Richard Melson

February 2006

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The IDF: An Uncomfortable Analysis
by Moshe Feiglin
Arutz Sheva - February 26, 2006

Moshe Feiglin is head of the Manhigut Yehudit [Jewish Leadership] faction in the Likud party and a former prime ministerial candidate in the Likud primaries.



The IDF is part of our culture and national ethos. But the time has come to examine its objective status, the role that it is playing today in the State of Israel and the Gordian knot between it and the belief-based public. Our future depends on our ability to honestly assess our situation. Incorrect analysis will turn the naive, belief based public into the major tool for the destruction of Israel.

What is the Current Strategic Threat to Israel?

On the surface, the answer is simple. An all-out war against us by the Arab nations. Atomic or unconventional warfare directed at Israel from one of the more extreme Islamic states. Terror on a scale or quality that poses a strategic threat.

However, if we try to look deeper, and penetrate the barrier of accepted thinking, we will reveal that Israel -- until the mid 80's -- had le! arned to decisively counter all the above threats. An all out conventional war like the Yom Kippur war is no longer on the horizon. The Syrian army is still armed with outdated Soviet weapons and is no longer a real threat to Israel. The Egyptian army is indeed armed from head to toe with modern Western weapons (thanks to the "peace" agreements), but the place of the traditional ground war that we have known in the past is being usurped by high tech warfare, in which Israel has a pronounced advantage. The IDF is downscaling its armored forces because it understands that the battle will no longer be determined by classic tank combat. It seems that Egypt has understood that the indirect force approach is superior to direct war. As a result, it is focusing its efforts on transferring arms to the murder organizations in Gaza. In any event, the prospect of a conventional ground war attack by Egypt in the foreseeable future does not seem significant.

Since the War of Independence, the Jordanian army has not been a real strategic threat to Israel. (Jordan's attack on Israel in the Six Day War was simply a miracle that compelled us to liberate Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria). The real strategic threat on our Eastern border was from the Iraqi army, which had always joined wars against Israel. Currently, that army is non-existent.

We are left with the nuclear threat and the strategic terror threat. When it destroyed the Iraqi nuclear plant in the 1980's, Israel proved that when it is sufficiently determined, it could deal with this type of threat before it even gets off the ground. Israel also knew how to deal with the threat of terror. Just prior to the Oslo Accords, the murderous terror empire of Arafat was on the brink of bankruptcy in its exile in Tunis. From the mid 1950's (when the famous anti-terror 101 Batallion was activated) until the Oslo Accords in the mid 80's, it was Israel that taught the world how to fight terror. Today, Israel teaches the world how to surrender to terror. This is not because terror has become a strategic threat, but because in Oslo, Israel chose to make it so. Israel chose to flee Lebanon and to put the mid-north town of Hadera within range of Hizballah's chemical missiles. This is undoubtedly a strategic threat -- but it is a threat that we, ourselves, created.

If there is no real strategic threat hovering on the horizon, why do research polls show that the majority of Israelis do not believe that Israel will exist in another thirty years? If the external threat has decreased so significantly, why do we all feel so powerfully that Israel is at the threshold of collapse? What is the strategic threat?

The strategic threat to Israel is completely homegrown. Israel is disintegrating from the inside. The self-destructive course on which we are being led by the elites is initially expressed by the abandonment of our homeland to our enemies and by turning the settlers -- the sector most loyal to Israel -- into the enemies of the nation. However, this process takes root and is expressed by a total rejection of our very right to exist.

In the fifties, Israel went to war against Egypt because of terror attacks stemming from its territory. Today, much of Israel's southern flank is subjected to a steady barrage of rockets, but nobody expects a united effort to stop it. The shock and horror from the terror attack on the bus in Ma'aleh Akrabim fifty years ago is engraved on Israeli consciousness to this very day. But who remembers when the last bus was attacked this year? We have lost our sense of righteousness and with it, the will for our basic existence. The people of Sderot went on with their daily lives while nearby Gush Katif came under rocket fire (until it was destroyed by the IDF). In Ashkelon the show will go on when Sderot is destroyed. And in Tel Aviv they will continue to party as Ashkelon is abandoned.

Israel is being led by a small oligarchy that doesn't believe in the justness of its cause. It has nothing worth dieing for and nothing worth living for -- except itself. This oligarchy will always prefer to preserve itself in the short run at the expense of the very existence of the state in the long run. It sees itself as the Founder of the state and the Creator of a new nation -- the Israeli nation -- to replace the outdated Jewish nation of the exile. As French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau explained -- the oligarchies see the state and its citizens as their private property. As long as the state supplies the oligarchy with the ability to rule and the appropriate cultural environment, it has the right to exist. It is just and fitting to take existential risks in order to preserve the rule of the oligarchy and its values. The leadership is not meant to serve the state, but rather, the state must serve the leadership.

Lieutenant Colonel Shlomo Baum, of blessed memory, once told me, "Shimon Peres doesn't care if the entire state turns into a heap of ashes -- as long as he is standing at the top of the heap." At the time, I thought that he was exaggerating. Today I know that this is true not only of Peres, but of the entire oligarchy that controls the State of Israel. This oligarchy is the strategic threat to the state.

What is the Strategic Mission of the Army?

Once again, the answer seems simple. The IDF is the Israel Defense Forces. The strategic mission of the army is to defend the state of Israel. But a simple inspection of our reality since Oslo reveals a totally different picture. The IDF's top commanders do not concern themselves with defending Israel, but rather with defending the ruling oligarchy. They do not see their main goal as providing security for Israel, but rather as carrying out the orders of the oligarchy. Any general and self-respecting soldier would have resigned (and in some armies, committed suicide) rather than give guns and ammunition to the murderers of the PLO. How could an army whose mission is to defend the nation open its weapons arsenals to an organization of murderers who have spent the past decades brutally murdering the women and children of the very nation they are supposed to protect? How can an army whose mission is to defend the state arm an organization whose declared aim was and remains the destruction of that very state? But the IDF carried out its orders to the letter, with no opposition. In the same way, it carried out its order to destroy Gush Katif and expel its residents.

When the army's clear mission is to defend its country and its citizens, confusion ends. Even the US army displayed this basic common sense when it refused the New Orleans' mayor's orders to forcibly evict residents from the Katrina stricken areas. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, in charge of military relief, adamantly told the mayor that the fighters will continue to deliver water and basic supplies to the victims, but they will not forcibly remove citizens from their own homes.

A quick appraisal of the ethical code and goals of the army stamped in every soldier's ID card shows that they could serve -- with no changes -- General Motors or IBM. "Excellence," "Responsibility," "Fellowship" and the like. In effect, the IDF absolves itself of any commitment to its homeland, to the nation of Israel or to its values. Its commanders declare time and again that the mission of the army is to carry out the orders of the government. But obedience is a tool -- not a purpose. Put simply, the IDF is not the Israel Defense Forces, but rather a professional and disciplined military organization that is prepared to assertively implement any mission entrusted to it by the ruling oligarchy.

At times, the army will be ordered to act against an external enemy and at times it will be ordered to act against an internal, political enemy. But for the army this is irrelevant. The Israeli general is not concerned with his homeland, his nation or its values. Only one thing interests him -- carrying out his orders. As a reward for his obedience the Israeli general will rise quickly to the top and will also become part of the oligarchy when he retires from the army -- whether as a politician or as a director in one of Israel's centralized economic monopolies.

The painful (but accurate) truth is that the strategic mission of the IDF is not to defend Israel, but rather, to defend the ruling elite. "The Israeli army will not be able to survive as an effective fighting force if it continues to place itself in the middle of the mainstream political debate in Israel," said an American army commander to the Jerusalem Post a! fter the events in Amona. "It cannot survive if it allows itself to confuse the Israeli public with Israel's enemies." The IDF today is not a counterpoint to the strategic threat on Israel. On the contrary, it enables and empowers it.

The State: A Monopoly on Power

The basic attribute of a state is its monopoly on power. The ability of a nation to use force to maintain its sovereignty is what separates it from a community or any other societal group. The central authority to implement judgment and power is what makes a state a state. (This is also how Maimonides defines a king in his work Mishneh Torah). Without an army, there is no monopoly on power, no state and of course, no rule. As the purpose of the oligarchy in Israel is to rule (and to enforce its values), the body that empowers it to do so is the army.

Who is the IDF?

The IDF is the largest and most complex organization in Israel. But the heart of the army is those officers and soldiers who are at the front lines of combat -- what historian Uri Milstein calls the "blood line." They are but a small percentage of the entire organization but they are the pinnacle of the army -- the fighters positioned to give up their lives -- most of them in the infantry. These are the angels that risk their lives to guard our lives every day. They enlist in the army with an authentic desire to serve their country.

At the beginning of the 1990s, when Rabin shook Arafat's hand and recognized the "just claims" of the "Palestinians", these angels were still children. They don't remember that before the grotesque handshake soldiers did not guard shopping centers and stadiums, Israelis shopped freely in Arab towns and soldiers patrolling their narrow alleys were not in serious danger. They don't remember the time when busses and cafes didn't periodically explode. The soldiers of the blood line don't know that in essence, the oligarchy that sends them to the front lines are the very people that created the strategic danger for which they are now being asked to risk their lives.

The soldiers of the blood line also don't understand that the settlements do not interest the elite that sends them there. What interests them is their monopoly on power. In other words, as long as the settlements (still) exist, and due to the fact that we, the oligarchy, have created a dangerous security situation, we must provide a semblance of security so that we can retain our monopoly on power -- and rule. So the young angel that is sent to guard the settlements may think that he is there for the settlers, but the bitter truth is that he is there to guard the ruling oligarchy.

This precious group of blood line soldiers are the people sustaining the army, the state -- and the oligarchy that presents the true strategic threat to the state.

Who are the Fighters on the Blood Line?

Just weeks before he expelled the Jews of Gush Katif from their homes, Chief of Southern Command, General Dan Harel admitted that the majority of infantry fighters are from the national religious public. Children of settlers make up a large share of this group. Research done by Dr. Yagil Levi shows that the number of settlers killed in the line of duty in the IDF is more than three times their proportional representation in the general population. The number of fatalities from among the entire national religious public is even larger. More than any other sector, it is the national religious that send their sons to the blood line units -- with sincere faith that they are serving their nation and homeland.

The Pyramid of Madness

We are dealing with a reverse pyramid in which the idealistic fighters hold up the oligarchy that endangers the existence of the state. But the pyramid becomes pure madness when we understand that its apex is not resting on the shoulders of the fighters, but instead is piercing their hearts.

For the oligarchy, the settlers are the greatest danger to their rule because they actualize their Jewishness outside the synagogues -- on the real earth of the Land of Israel. They are the only sector that can present an authentic alternative to the dictatorship of the oligarchy. That is why they are intent on destroying the settlement enterprise.

To this end, the oligarchy in Israel has labeled the settlers as enemies of the people. They have no human rights, no right to defend themselves or to be protected (as proven by the thousands of missiles that rained on Gush Katif with no reaction) no right of purchase, can be driven from their homes, their liberty can be taken from them in trials that are nothing more than the theatre of the absurd, and thugs in uniform can break their heads open and molest their daughters.

It is precisely the sector that is being most cruelly trampled that makes it possible for this brutal oligarchy to exist. It is the loyal and idealistic settlers that, more than any other sector -- send their sons to the blood line to defend the state. But in reality, they are not defending the state but rather the oligarchy that is destroying it. The oligarchy continues to feed the terror monster that it planted in the heart of our country with more and more pieces of the Land of Israel, money, infrastructure and resources -- the fruit of the hard labor of Israeli citizens. It is the IDF -- the children of the settlers -- who are called upon to rob the settlers -- their own parents -- of their property and to hand it over to the terrorists.

This of course increases the appetite of the terror monster, the security situation worsens, the rule of the oligarchy is compromised and then it sends the army (the children of the settlers) to restore security to the citizens or in other words, to strengthen the rule of the oligarchy. All the while, the oligarchy forces its Western values on the IDF, making sure that any military actions taken are not effective and do not upset European or American sensibilities. Better that 10 soldiers die than, heaven forbid, the mother of a terrorist.

And Now for Some Good News

The real front in the battle for the existence of the state is in the hills of Judea and Samaria -- much more than in the Oligarchy Defense Forces. A young man who works to strengthen the settlements today defends his country no less than a combat pilot or elite troop in the service of Olmert -- who profoundly endangers them.

The good news is that the key to reversing the mad pyramid and standing it on its base is in the hands of the settlers. They are the people providing the energy that maintains the state. Will they use their energy to liberate it?

The choice is in their hands.

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Moshe Feiglin - The IDF: An Uncomfortable Analysis

Freeman Center For Strategic Studies

Sunday, February 26, 2006