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Non-violent war is of a different nature than its physical counterpart, though both share the aim of destroying Israel. But precisely because non-violent war is still a form of war, it cannot be fought by bureaucratic ministries even if combined with private organizations.

In such a war, intelligence agencies must play a far more crucial role than has been the case up to now. They have to collect systematic information about who Israel’s non-violent enemies are, analyze their methods and what they may do next, and regularly produce creative ideas to expose and fight the attackers. As in any other field, the knowledge and skills needed to accomplish these tasks only accumulate over the years.

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This approach should have begun – at the latest – in the early 1980s after the First Lebanon War, when the delegitimization of Israel accelerated. None of the successive Israeli governments has properly fought this non-violent war or even understood it in significant detail. That makes the need all the more urgent for Israel to start responding in a far more systematic way.

Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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