Last modified: 2015-06-29 by andrew weeks
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The Israeli navy uses the same ranks as other branches of the
Israel Defence Forces (IDF), thus there are no admiral-like
ranks. The flag that appears as rear admiral in Album des Pavillons 2000
is charged with the rank insignia of an Aluf (Major
General) which is the rank of the GHQ members and the commander
of the branches and regional commands and the second in the rank
list. Since the only one in the navy that has this rank is the commander of the navy (who has his own
rank flag), this one cannot be a rear admiral flag. I
never saw that flag, but if it is exists it is in use, probably,
only when another Aluf apart from the commander of the
navy is visiting a naval vessel or base. IDF ranks are shown at
the IDF website,
Navy symbols and ranks at the Navy website.
Dov Gutterman, 6 February 2002
Of course, it is always difficult to translate ranks, but it
has always been the practice of doing so with the most
approximate rank in English (etc.). Rank systems are sometimes
not quite equivalent - therefore some NATO members changed rank
systems recently - so only an approximation is possible. When a
language has no special terms for naval ranks these would be
translated in the appropriate English (etc.) naval ranks. It
seems to me that rear admiral (i.e. a two-star flag
officer) would be sufficiently close to what a naval Aluf
is. (I guess the rank symbolized with branch and sword only
without the leaf would be equivalent to commodore, in case of the
Željko Heimer, 6 February 2002
As far as I recall, there has never been more than one Rav
Aluf (Lieutenant General), even in wartime. There are about
20 Alufim (plural of Aluf, Major General). The
Israeli rank equivalent to Brigader General is Tat Aluf
a more recent rank than the others.
One obvious difficulty here is the literal meaning of these words. You need not understand Hebrew to see that Aluf literally means General. Rav Aluf means something like Chief General and Tat Aluf is, I believe, short for Under General.
To make things more confusing, lower Israeli ranks use Aluf as well. The Colonel equivalent is Aluf Mishneh (literally Deputy General), and the Lieutenant Colonel equivalent is Segan Aluf (Assistant General, or, considering that the Lieutenant equivalent is a Segen, perhaps even Lieutenant [in the original meaning of "assistant"] General). And yet neither of these ranks is a general rank by any account.
Nathan Lamm, 10 February 2002
All translations of military ranks are more or less arbitrary
unless they are obvious cognates, and then sometimes they are false
friends that are not, in fact, equivalent. It makes a lot
more sense when translating from languages like Hebrew, Arabic,
Chinese, Japanese etc. to use the Western traditional naval
titles to apply to naval officers and the traditional army titles
to apply to army officers. After all, aluf no more means
major general than it does rear admiral; it
means thousands, as in commander of thousands. Rav
aluf does not translate as lieutenant general but
as chief commander of thousands and tat aluf as
sub-commander of thousands, not brigadier.
Furthermore, the Israeli Navy itself uses traditional naval titles in referring to its own officers when dealing in European languages. So my vote would be to translate rav aluf in this context as vice admiral, aluf as rear admiral, and tat aluf as commodore.
As to who would use the rav aluf flag, it is not at all uncommon for navies and other services to have flags on the books for ranks that no one actually holds. The US Navy has a flag for fleet admiral, and there has not been one of those since 1966. As one can see in Album des Pavillons 2000 itself, lots of navies have the full set of rank flags all the way up to four or five stars, even though they have no one above one- or two-star rank in actual service.
Joseph McMillan, 11 February 2002