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  • Writer's pictureNetta Schramm נטע שרם

The Hannibal Directive: Naming a Duality

In 2019 I participated in a conference in London titled Claiming the Classical. My short remarks were devoted to an analysis of a cancelled IDF directive for managing captured soldiers.

My point is very simple: the name of the directive is indicative of its content. Unlike other IDF directives with names deriving form biblical sources or local flora, this contested form of action was given a "foreign" name.


This short piece is evidently one of the few discussions on the topic and is often read by reader across the globe (so says academia. org).


Exceptions to this general rule can be found in Israel, where the dominant axis of identification is biblical rather than classical. Classical allusions can therefore evoke a sense of the rhetorical ‘Other’, as in the case of the name chosen for a controversial military protocol to prevent soldiers being taken captive, even at the cost of those soldiers’ lives. The name chosen was the ‘Hannibal Directive’ – drawing not from biblical precedents, but from the peri-classical world of Carthage. The choice of name served as a distancing mechanism, allowing the Israeli state to disassociate itself as much as possible from an unpopular military strategy.

A summary of my presentation was published here, and the lecture notes are also available.

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