In almost all the years of Israel's existence, the heads of its military and other defense organizations were practically sacrosanct. Israel may be the only country in the world that is forced to fight for its very existence on a regular basis. Its people live under a long-standing state of siege, surrounded by enemies who would like to see them thrown into the sea. That is why Israelis are so aware that without a powerful Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the military's superiority in the air and top-notch intelligence agencies, the country wouldn't last a single day in this part of the world.
Ever since the state was first founded almost 70 years ago (1948), there has been a flourishing romance between Israel and its generals. The IDF's chief of staff was a consensus figure who almost always topped the popularity charts by an enormous margin. There was good reason that the position of chief of staff was considered to be a springboard to future political leadership. Two chiefs of staff, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, went on to become prime minister. So did a major general — Ariel Sharon. At one point, Israelis knew the names of every general serving on the general staff, and flags with their pictures flew from the ramparts on Independence Day. Everybody knew their names.