The chief commander of the Expulsion from Gush Katif, Dan Harel, is praising Israel’s new Iron Dome air defense system that has, during the latest fighting between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, successfully intercepted most of the rockets headed for Israeli cities and towns. He forgot, however, to remind Israelis of the leading role he played in the operation that created the need for Iron Dome in the first place. The media and reserve generals are lauding the abilities of the system that gives the government the maneuvering space needed to weigh the situation carefully. Without Iron Dome we might, perish the thought, be forced to re-conquer Gaza.
The Iron Dome system does not give us maneuvering space to weigh the situation and its consequences. On the contrary, it is a fig leaf that absolves our leadership of its main role: preserving state security.
The Iron Dome is a tremendous technological accomplishment. But the great technological success is also our great strategic failure.
Let us imagine that the IDF had decided to equip itself with the ultimate tank. Our brilliant engineers come up with a revolutionary proposal for a new type of tank shield. There is only one drawback: for every centimeter of shield, the tank’s cannon loses one meter off its length and its range decreases by 20 kilometers. By all calculations, if we completely forgo the tank’s ability to shoot and move, we will have a miracle tank, impervious to anti-tank weapons.
We all know how a tank like that would end up: It would never win a battle and its crew would eventually be taken captive.
All those Iron Dome enthusiasts need to take a short walk down memory lane. Try to remember Israeli mentality before Oslo. Let’s say that the year is 1991. Now take this week’s news reports on missiles in Beersheba and Ashkelon and broadcast it as it was aired in 1991. How would that news report play with the masses?
We would probably think that it was a practical joke. Remember that missiles in Ashkelon are a casus belli – a reason for an all-out war.
But how is this war defined today? Government and IDF officials, and the media, are simply calling it a “round of fighting.”
The Iron Dome reinforces the legitimacy to attack Israel’s cities, highlighting the fact that Israel itself is no longer very legitimate.
Defense systems are important, just as tank shields are vital. But that is true only when we are on the offensive and focused on victory. In defensive-defeatist mode, these systems draw the end near. They are like aspirin for cancer.
By the grace of G-d, as I write this column, there have been no serious Israeli injuries. But the nation’s leadership must first and foremost weigh its actions in light of national security. Just as with Gilad Shalit our leadership has taken the opposite tack, as it sells our future security for a short-term panacea.