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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Israeli politics’

Jerusalem Landfill Plan Shelved

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

A zoning plan that would have enabled the creation of critical Arab facts-on-the-ground in a strategically vital area of Jerusalem has been shelved thanks to efforts by several Zionist organizations.

The rejected plan involves a tract of land outside Anatot, north of the Old City and south of Pisgat Ze’ev, and also east of French Hill and northwest of the in-the-news E-1 area outside Maaleh Adumim. As reported here several months ago, a proposal was raised to build a landfill there, at the western edge of the Og River bed, for surplus construction waste. The goal was to reserve the area for use as a public park 20 years from now – thus supposedly insuring that the land would not be populated by hostile elements, and preventing Maaleh Adumim from turning into an Arab-surrounded enclave.

However, many Jewish groups feared that the idea was bound to boomerang: The only ones who would be prevented from building there would be those who follow the law – namely, Jews. But Arab elements would certainly follow their general modus operandi and build houses without legal sanction. The bottom line, it was feared, would be a greatly strengthened Arab presence in an area critical to national Jewish demographics.

In addition, the Israel Land Fund, the Legal Forum and Green Now filed environmental and property-rights objections to the plan. “The property is owned by Jews, and they should be allowed to build there,” said a source close to the case. “We don’t need a park there in 20 years; we need Jewish construction there now.”

This past week, the Jerusalem Municipality informed the three groups that a scheduled discussion of the plan had been canceled, and that the plan is being withdrawn.

The very fact that such a plan was submitted and considered, however, shows us once again that we must continue to fight in every venue to ensure Jewish national rights to every part of the Land of Israel – even 65 years after the establishment of Israel.

This lesson is all the more poignant as we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim – the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War 46 years ago.

The Jewish people’s bonds with the Holy City are unshakable, to be sure – but they may have weakened ever so slightly over recent decades. Consider the following commitment expressed in 1949 by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, in an urgent letter to foreign minister Moshe Sharett. Sharett was then in New York, and the United Nations was considering a proposal to grant control of Jerusalem to an international body.

Ben-Gurion wrote as follows: “I will propose in tomorrow’s government meeting the following government declaration in the Knesset: Israel will not accept any form of foreign rule in Jewish Jerusalem and its elimination from the state. If we face a choice of leaving Jerusalem or leaving the United Nations – we will chose to leave the United Nations.”

The 28th day of Iyar, 5727 – June 7, 1967 – was the day the Jewish people regained control over their holy capital, Yerushalayim. It marked the end of a 1,833 year period during which we were foreigners in our own capital city.

Despite Jordan’s lack of official status, Israel had no plans to oust the Jordanians from the Old City, even after war broke out. Though Jordan shelled Tel Aviv on the first day of the war, Israel assumed this was just a gesture of solidarity with Egypt, and sent a message promising not to attack Jordan if it stayed out of the war. In probably the one act of his life he most regretted, King Hussein refused; within two days his forces had retreated across the Jordan River, and all the area west of it, including the Old City of Jerusalem, was Israel’s.

Seven months later, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel set the date of 28 Iyar as a “day of thanksgiving to God for the miracles that occurred on that day, and for the liberation of Jerusalem.” The Government of Israel followed suit in May 1968, setting the date as Jerusalem Day.

For 30 years, the holiday was a “local” one, until May 1998, when the Knesset granted it the status of a national holiday.

As with all of our holidays, the question we must ask ourselves afterward is not “How did it go?” but rather, “What did it do for you – what effect did it leave upon you?”  We must make sure to commemorate Jerusalem Day with sincere thanks to God for the miracles He wrought in our generation, and we must redouble our genuine appreciation for the historic national process in which God has placed us: He promised the Land to our Patriarchs, brought us there amidst great wonders, exiled us when we strayed from the path, and promised to return us at the right time – and here we are! The process is still just in its beginning; it is up to us, on many fronts, to advance it along.

‘That’s Just How It Is In The Knesset’

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Last week, a few minutes after my stormy exchange with haredi members of Knesset, I went to what we in the Knesset call the “back cafeteria.” It is not exactly a cafeteria but rather a lounge area behind the plenum where members of Knesset alone can enter.

There are couches and chairs, a smoking room, an espresso machine, and a large plasma TV that broadcasts the Knesset channel. This is the place where Knesset members can rest a little, gossip, close deals, and even develop friendships far from the public eye.

I took a coffee and sat with two fellow Yesh Atid MKs, Rena Frenkel and Yifat Kariv, who were still short of breath from the emotions that had just been unleashed in the plenum. After a minute, UTJ MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, whom I had engaged in most of the debate, appeared next to us.

Gafni is a complex person. Most of the time in the plenum he acts haughty, attacking and shouting – a “hero of interruptions” who is equipped, as I mentioned from the podium, with a very strong pair of lungs that enable him to deafen you without a microphone.

But the moment he is away from the cameras he becomes a sweet, reasonable person whom you can come to agreements with regarding laws and committee work. In my eyes, and apparently in his as well, this is not duplicitous. When one is in the plenum, one is a representative of the public. When one is in the back cafeteria, one can be a human being.

“You are making a mistake, Rabbi Gafni,” I told him.

“Regarding what?” he asked.

“Regarding the debate.”

“Why?”

“Listen,” I said. “Tomorrow I am ascending the stage at the National Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv to give my first comprehensive speech as finance minister. I am going to present the principles of the economic policies I plan to present to the government, to provide details regarding my vision for Israeli society, and to explain for the first time the reforms the finance ministry is planning to pass in the Economic Arrangement Law. ”

“So what was the mistake?” Gafni asked.

“The mistake,” I answered, “is that from every perspective it would be better for me to present this speech in the Knesset. In my view, it is more democratic and more fitting that members of Knesset be the first to hear from the finance minister regarding his financial program rather than reading about it the next day in the newspaper.”

“You are very right,” said Gafni, “so why don’t you do that?”

“Because your faction won’t let me even complete the first sentence,” I said. “We both know precisely what will happen. I will start to speak, you will begin to scream, and I won’t succeed in explaining anything. An economic plan is complex and it deserves to have a real discourse and thoughtful dialogue based on facts and realities. I need twenty-five minutes to explain the budget and I don’t think it is too much to ask MKs to listen with seriousness and without interruptions for twenty-five minutes to something that will set the course for the country’s economy.

“If you would agree to give me this opportunity, I am prepared to sit afterward for six straight hours, to listen to your side regarding every detail in the budget, to take notes, and to look into every issue with seriousness and in good faith.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” said Gafni.

“Why not?”

“Because that’s just how it is in the Knesset.”

“What kind of answer is that? If that is so, then we need to change it.”

“It won’t work.”

“But don’t you agree with me,” I insisted, “that this is how it should work? That this will bring honor to the Knesset and to ourselves?”

“It could be,” Gafni said with hesitation.

“So I want to challenge you,” I said. “Go to the members of the opposition and get them organized. Tell them the time has come to change the rules of the game and create a new discourse. We will establish a couple of hours without interruptions from the floor and I will listen to you and you will listen to me. Perhaps a dialogue will emerge that will make us better. Want to try?”

Orthodox Women May Stand to Lose Under Sharansky’s Proposal

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Natan Sharansky recently put forth a proposal to renovate and extend the Western Wall plaza to include Robinsons Arch, thereby creating an egalitarian prayer space alongside the ones currently designated for men and women. As an Orthodox woman I am not egalitarian, nevertheless, I think creating space to include all the denominations comfortably at the Kotel is a positive thing, nobody should feel excluded from Jerusalem’s holiest site. Despite that, I am very disappointed with what this proposal might mean for Orthodox women.

Though Kotel access and inclusion for the progressive denominations is an important issue, Sharansky was specifically charged with coming up with a solution in response to the escalating conflict surrounding the Women of the Wall. Though some people may conflate those two issues they are in fact separate and distinct and in this case it looks like the issue of denominational access has won out over women’s rights. And what is even worse is that it is the women’s hard work which enabled this victory and yet is coming at their own expense.

As an active Orthodox feminist I have invested years of my life to advancing women’s rights within the framework of Halachah, studying at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education instead of seeking ordination from one of the liberal movements, working at the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, serving as an intern at Congregation Ramath Orah on Manhattans’ Upper West Side, founding and leading various women’s tefillah groups where women could be represented and share their voices without having to abandon their communities to do so.

I was also a huge proponent of Women of the Wall (WOW) for many years. I saw WOW as my sisters in Israel struggling for women’s Halachic rights at the Kotel, the same way I was struggling for them here in America. Not a violation of Halachha, but a fight against patriarchal social norms that prevent me, and millions of other women, from actualizing our Halachically permitted potential. Anat Hoffman, in an opinion piece she wrote in the Forward in 2010 states

Simply put, our goal is to obtain the freedom to pray and to do everything that is Halachically permitted for women on the women’s side of the mechitzah (the barrier between men and women). This includes reciting prayers together that do not require a minyan, and, yes, most of all, it includes reading from the Torah. At a minimum, we want to be allowed to pray at the Wall for one hour each month, free of injury and fear. This should not be a provocative request. If I wanted to mount a provocation at the Wall, I certainly wouldn’t do so by inviting a group of modestly dressed women — most of them devoted Orthodox Jews — to show up early in the morning to pray in a manner entirely consistent with Halacha. That some are provoked does not make us provocative. We have been waking up early to pray every Rosh Hodesh for the past 21 years — this is no fad, no political act. It is done for the sake of prayer. Over the past week a number of people have questioned the premise that an egalitarian section at the Kotel does not address the needs of progressive Orthodox women. In response I would say firstly that I should not have to leave a space or community that I am an active part of in order to assert the rights afforded to me by Halachah, as an Orthodox women in a de facto Orthodox space shouldn’t my actions be a valid part of the greater whole that determines the status quo by which we set our norms? Secondly, davening in an egalitarian space is probably not seen as a Halachically viable option for most Orthodox women for whom an allegiance to Halachah is paramount to their other needs.

Thirdly, the proposed space is not a free for all space, even if a group of women wanted to get together within that proposed space and hold a women’s tefillah group, not a minyan, I question whether they would be able to. I have enough liberal friends and have been exposed to the progressive denominations sufficiently to see that they too have a bias and I question if such a group would be welcome.

An Autonomous Haredi State: Having Their Cake and Eating It Too

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

The Haredi publication Hamodia (as reported by The Jewish Press) has called for establishment of their own autonomous zone in Israel. The feel that they have been mistreated.

Here is how the Times of Israel put it:

As the Knesset works on legislation that could see most ultra-Orthodox men required to serve in the IDF or other national service frameworks, and planned budget cuts threaten the community’s already strained economy, Hamodia, the mouthpiece of the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Yisrael party, suggested self-rule was the best answer to unwanted secular intrusion.

Hamodia said:

Autonomy means independent administrative rule for internal matters without sovereign political status, with legal and financial independence and police, but without an army or foreign policy.

I find this approach to be both intriguing and at the same time very self serving. And frankly somewhat humorous. I have always thought that places like Meah Shearim ought to be given what they want – complete independence from the State of Israel. They don’t think that the Jewish people have a right to their own state pre-Moshiach? That’s fine. Give them Meah Shearim and they can give it to which ever non-Jews they choose to live under. I hear that there are some Palestinians that might be interested.

But this is different. Hamodia isn’t talking about only the rejectionist Jews of Meah Shearim. They are talking about all Haredim – including those who have in the past worked with the government.

And they aren’t talking about seceding from Israel. They are talking about living there autonomously. They want to build a society of their own. They claim to have the ability to build their own infrastructure. They will have their own judicial system; their own political system; their own electric companies, roads, water works… and everything else necessary for a society to function independently. They look to Haredi cities likes Bnei Brak and Beitar as their models for success.

Really? Hamodia thinks that a society that does not educate their children in anything but Torah study will enable them to build a society that functions? Where are they going to get people with the expertise to build all of the necessary components of a modern society? The engineers, the doctors, the dentists, the lawyers, the accountants, the urban planners, the police, the judges and the myriad other trained people who will be qualified to do the things that a city needs to function? From Brisk?

But let us grant that they will somehow find a way. Maybe they will change the paradigm a bit to allow some of their students to learn those disciplines so that they can have such a society. (Although I doubt it.)

But here is the problem. They still want army protection. That is the advantage of having autonomy. You can then eat your cake and have it too. They will graciously allow secular and Dati Leumi Israelis to put their lives on the line for them. Isn’t this what the whole debate is about in the first place?!

It does not cease to amaze me how clueless some of these people are. How can they think that this would in any way be acceptable? How will this new autonomous entity share the burden? Maybe they think this is all about money… that their offer to live autonomously means that they will relieve the Israeli taxpayer of the burden of supporting them. I don’t know… that is an enticing concept. But if so, where will they get the money to replace what they receive now? How will this under-educated (aside from Torah knowledge) class with little marketable skills survive?

The only way their sincerity about living autonomously can be tested is if we require them to have their own army. That would be fair. Without it… all this amounts to is formalizing the status quo with respect to sharing the burden. Only they will be doing so in the form of an autonomous state. Why would the government of Israel want to do that? In my view it would be an act of true humanitarian nature to deny this option to them. Because they will surely fail – even if they are granted protection by the IDF.

What about Bnei Brak or Beitar? I doubt they could exist as autonomous states. Don’t they realize that?

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

What Are They Crying About? (Conclusion)

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The ultra-Orthodox were also on a sort of automatic pilot.

Their society did not talk about the redemptive process and all types of glorious concepts. They simply waited for Mashiach. They learned Torah, fulfilled the directive to settle the land of Israel in their own way, and protected their communities from the winds of heresy with all their might. The irreverent Zionists who suddenly decided to play state making reshuffled all their cards. After all, it cannot be that the Mashiach wears an Israeli farmer’s hat. For the ultra-Orthodox, a serene prayer at the Western Wall under the enlightened flag of her majesty is ten times better than the unnecessary wars that the “heretics” brought upon us.

But somehow, their logic continues, the “heretics” actually established a successful state. And to prove how serious they were, they even asked us to join in on the democratic game. Now that you have engaged us against our will in a state that we do not want, we will try to salvage as much as possible for our communities.

At first, it seemed that the competing religious ideology that viewed Zionism as a positive development was flourishing. The National Religious Party had 12 Knesset seats. They controlled the religious institutions. They were the source for Israel’s chief rabbis and engaged in dialogue with the state. The ultra-Orthodox approach seemed to have reached its end.

But then everything changed. The religious Zionists began to sink, their rabbis looked to the ultra-Orthodox rabbis for approval, their political institutions became increasingly less influential, the state scorned them, and their leaders paid homage to the rabbis in ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak – not to the rabbis in religious Zionist Kiryat Moshe.

For an entire generation, it seemed that the ultra-Orthodox ideology was more realistic. Proof of that was Aryeh Deri’s consistent observation that no government could be formed without Shas – true, until the past elections. And then it turned out that a government could be formed without Shas – with those very same religious Zionists whose influence had almost dissipated.

That is how the ultra-Orthodox ideological self-confidence evaporated – to be replaced by cries of pain and insult. It is always easiest to blame the rest of the world and not to make an accounting of your own ideology. That’s fine. The religious Zionists did the same thing. But ultimately, reality prevails.

In truth, the religious Zionist ideology was not destroyed. Its foundations were genuine. Those foundations also exist in ultra-Orthodox ideology.

The religious Zionists correctly understand the redemptive process. But their abundance of love caused them to relate to the state as a means – not as an end. Danger! From this point, it is very easy to descend into a soft type of fascism. It is a kind of idol worship, as the halachic decisions made by some religious Zionist rabbis obligating soldiers to obey orders to drive Jews from their homes testify. When the individual belongs to the state and not vice versa, when the state is both father and mother to its citizens, the resulting crisis is just a matter of time.

For their part, the ultra-Orthodox correctly understand the danger of the state – any state. But they completely miss the redemptive process, leaving them outside of history and even outside of society.

Just as the Gush Katif crisis opened the religious Zionists up to their surrounding Israelis, creating diversity and new options, the same will happen now to the ultra-Orthodox. Everybody will gain from this process – first and foremost, the state of Israel and Israeli society.

The state of Israel is stuck, and not only because it does not have an answer for the missiles from Gaza. Bereft of its faith, it is incapable of dealing with all the deep-level challenges of our era. That faith, existing among believers of all stripes and all ideologies, will rise out of the crises to create a faith-based Israeli culture – a new type of vision.

Canadian Ministerial Visit to Jerusalem: A Geneva Convention Lesson

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Oh, the irony! Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, has been lambasted for meeting with an Israeli government official in eastern Jerusalem – but barely anything has been said about the minister with whom he met: None other than Justice Minister Tzipi Livny, possibly best known for her willingness to divide Jerusalem in a final settlement with the Palestinian Authority.

As noted here in the past, Livni basically lost her chance to be prime minister because of her stance on Jerusalem. In late 2008, after she rose to the helm of the Kadima Party, Kadima won the national election and Livni was handed the chance to form the government. However, in part because of her willingness to grant Arab control to parts of Yerushalayim, she was unable to sway the Shas Party to join her coalition and Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister instead.

Earlier that year, then-Foreign Minister Livni led negotiations with the PA – and promised PA chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would cede the entire Atarot airport complex in northern Yerushalayim. She has repeatedly stated that though she knows the entire Land of Israel is ours, she believes there will be peace only if Israel agrees to split Yerushalayim.

Others believe, of course, that statements of that type actually keep peace from arriving, for they encourage the Arab parties to maintain their intransigence.

Rather than ask why Minister Baird met with Minister Livny in the eastern Jerusalem office, why not ask why Minister Livny agreed to meet there with Minister Baird? She certainly knew the fallout that would result, placing her in the same corner as the Land of Israel loyalists with whom she started her career (her father was an Etzel officer in 1948, along with Menachem Begin, and she herself was a longtime Likud member and MK). She has not commented on the matter on her Facebook page or in any other public forum; she would likely prefer that the matter be forgotten.

In any event, John Baird has once again been shown to be true-blue with Israel. He also toured an IDF outpost in the Golan Heights on his recent trip, and in the past has visited the Old City of Jerusalem with an Israeli escort. Both the Golan and eastern Jerusalem are considered hot spots that many Western political officials make sure not to visit so as not to be viewed as recognizing Israeli control there.

Minister Baird deflected all criticism of these visits, however, and especially the most recent one in the Justice Ministry. He said they are “irrelevant” to the larger discussion of Middle East peace.

“I’m just not interested in getting into the semantic argument about whether [if] you have a meeting with one person on one side of the street it’s OK, and [if] you have a meeting on the other side of street it’s not,” Baird said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor also defended the meeting. “There should be nothing unusual about meeting Israel’s justice minister in [eastern] Jerusalem,” he said. “What is strange is that this is the exception.”

Though Canada’s embassy in Israel is not in Jerusalem but rather in Tel Aviv, and though Minister Baird emphasized that he supports the PLO’s bid for statehood, Canada is a very strong friend of Israel – possibly its best in the world.

“The great struggle of our generation is the struggle against terrorism,” Baird told an Israeli TV station last week, “and far too often, the Jewish people, Israel, has been on the front lines of that struggle. We want to work with Israel to see a lasting peace in this region.” He also related that he had urged Abbas to agree to resume talks with Israel without preconditions, but to no avail.

Canada and Israel have strong, multidimensional bilateral relations that have only intensified in recent years. The relationship has been marked by increased cooperation in public security, defense, trade and investment, with increasing numbers of ministerial visits.

“Israel appreciates Canada’s moral stand on a range of issues,” said Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Mark Regev, “and we appreciate Canada’s friendship.”

The PA did not let Canada or Minister Baird off lightly for his visit in eastern Jerusalem. Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat sent him a sharp official letter of complaint, alleging that he had violated international law by “knowingly aiding another state in the perpetration of a crime.” The referred-to “crime,” based on the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, is that of attempting to annex what Erekat called “our capital,” and of transferring civilian population to occupied areas.

However, many legal scholars agree that Israel’s policy in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem in no way violates the Geneva Convention.

Eli E. Hertz – a member of our International Keep Jerusalem Council and president of Myths and Facts, Inc., which researches and publishes important topical matters regarding global U.S. interests – has written on this topic extensively. He explains that when the Convention refers to “occupied territory,” it has the Nazi occupation of Europe in mind, and that there is no legal basis for using the term in connection with the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Hertz quotes Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, as categorically rejecting use of the term “occupied territory” to describe Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. This, for the following reasons:

● The relevant clause, relating to the invasion of sovereign states, is inapplicable, because Judea and Samaria (Yesha) did not belong to any other state. Israel did not capture Yesha from its legal sovereign, but rather from Jordan, whose rule there was recognized by only two countries: Great Britain and Pakistan. Even the Arab League did not approve of Jordan’s “annexation” of these areas.

● The relevant article in the Convention was formulated in light of the Holocaust, seeking to prevent genocide – which is not a fear in the present situation.

● Settlement of Jews in Judea and Samaria is voluntary, does not displace local inhabitants, and is associated with a dramatic improvement in the economic situation of the [local Arab] inhabitants since 1967.

As such, Israel is not in violation of international law, and Minister Baird took the proper moral stance in recognizing that Israel, and not any Arab entity, has the most valid claim – if not the only one – to the Holy City, Yerushalayim.

To help spread the message that Jerusalem is Jewish, KeepJerusalem.org invites you to participate in our eastern and northern Jerusalem bus tours. For information, e-mail tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit our website at www.keepjerusalem.org.

Understanding Israel’s National-Security Policy

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Most of my Jewish Press columns deal with Israel’s most urgent national security problems, especially those that have, or have had, a real or prospective nuclear component. What I have never dealt with on these pages, however, are the important and corollary issues of how Israel actually makes its national security policy.

Now, auspiciously, Charles D. Freilich, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard and a professor at Tel Aviv University, has written Zion’s Dilemmas: How Israel Makes National Security Policy (Cornell University Press), an authoritative and authentically magisterial answer to this vital question. There is much here for the reader to learn.

Let me start with the author’s conclusion, because, paradoxically, it represents an ideal place for me to begin. “The Lord is my shepherd,” quotes Freilich from the Book of Psalms, “and fortunate this is, for the decision-making process in Israel is deeply flawed.” Following 256 pages of meticulous and systematic investigation – an investigation that proceeds with all of the best architecture of modern social science, including appropriately careful delineations of “‘independent” and “dependent” variables – Freilich is intent to call all things by their correct names.

This is no narrowly partisan exegesis. This is no attempt to present a uniformly positive or contrived picture of Israel’s national security establishment. To the contrary, the author offers an entirely honest and open consideration that is often conspicuously less than visceral praise. To be sure, there is also a good deal of praise in Freilich’s book for the Israeli DMP, or decision-making process, but it is correctly based on a dispassionate and detached assessment.

What we learn is that needed changes in the DMP have simply not kept up with the growing complexities and synergies of Israel’s always-hostile external environment:

“Nearly sixty-five years after independence, the same basic political processes, which so successfully gave rise to the nation in its formative years, are still largely intact.”

Especially troubling to the author, the reader will discover, is that Israel’s DMP is more “chaotic” and “politicized” than in other countries, not by any means an intrinsically fatal disadvantage, but one, nonetheless, that has still managed to generate injurious “pathologies.”

Worth noting, at this point, is that Freilich has served as a senior analyst in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and also as Israel’s deputy national security adviser. His assessments, therefore, are not simply an expression of outstanding academic scholarship, but the well-reasoned product of a distinguished and astute observer, one who has already had an important seat at the government table.

As a political scientist, I can admire the graceful way the author moves effortlessly between fashioning general theory and tendering elucidations of pertinent history. Combining the perceptual strengths of Isaiah Berlin’s “hedgehog” and “fox,” Freilich helps us see both one big decisional canvas and also many smaller, constituent elements.

Shaping a consciously nuanced model of national security decision-making in Israel, he applies it to assorted and carefully selected events of the past thirty years, ranging from Camp David I to the “disengagement” from Gaza in 2005 to the Second Lebanon War one year later.

The result is plainly disconcerting, as these seven cases reveal many critically lost opportunities, flagrantly unpardonable decisional errors, and an always highly politicized decisional context. While Freilich underscores the liabilities of Israel’s too-informal planning process, he also notes that this flawed process has allowed a relatively high degree of latitude or flexible response, as well as a gainfully self-serving sensitivity to pragmatic solutions.

Particularly helpful to the serious reader is the author’s continuous emphasis on “existential decision-making” as a critical component of Israel’s national security environment. Undoubtedly, this particular component is indispensable to understanding what drives the country’s DMP at its very core. In this connection, however, I would have liked to see greater attention paid to important details of Menachem Begin’s decision to attack Iraq’s nuclear reactor on June 7, 1981.

Of course, each reader will choose to assess the author’s selection of case studies differently according to his or her own personal hierarchy of concerns. But the connections between Operation Opera and the current threat of a nuclear Iran are unambiguously of the very highest urgency. Jurisprudentially, the attack on the Iraqi reactor was treated by Israel as a permissible expression of “anticipatory self-defense.” One may surmise that any future Israeli preemption against Iranian nuclear assets and infrastructures would have to be cast in very similar legal terms.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/understanding-israels-national-security-policy/2013/04/17/

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