Key Elements of the Security Conception Undermined

מתוך סמינר 2.0 לעדכון תפיסת הביטחון הלאומית | Seminar 2.0
קפיצה אל: ניווט, חיפוש
This document is part B of the document titled A New Vision For Israel's National Security Conception

The previous section: Foundations of Israel's National Security Concept

This part of the document describes the leading trends which conflict with aspects of the current conception, and includes a chart which summarizes the gap.

Central components of this security concept are being undermined in recent years (see table):

  1. The Jewish people and Israel are drifting apart – A growing number of Jews do not see Israel as a central component of their identity, they do not support it, and are not involved in it. Some are critical or hostile to Israel. At the same time, Jewish communal institutions are weakening, and therefore the ability of Diaspora Jews to support Israel and connect to it as an organized community is eroding.
  2. Continued control over the Palestinian population undermines the balance between Israel's democratic identity and its Jewish character.
  3. The United States is no longer Israel's 'stable rock' – The United States is in a continuing crisis of governance manifested primarily in its economic situation and international status. Moreover, the rise of China and Russia, the United States' experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its energy independence shift its attention from the Middle East.
  4. Fundamental delegitimization of Israel in the Middle East is led by a network of non-governmental organizations – For the past decade, Israel has stood against a systemic and systematic attack on its political model, which aims to deny its fundamental legitimacy as the nation state of the Jewish people. This campaign is taking place in the Arab and Muslim world and through a network of organizations and activists worldwide.
  5. Israel's central alliances in the Middle East are in a state of upheaval and are weakened as channels of influence – The regimes in Egypt and Jordan have weakened relative to rising civil societies there, and they are faced with significant internal challenges. As a result, the ability of the leadership of these countries to exert influence has diminished. Turkey scaled back its ties with Israel and in practice dismantled the strategic alliance between the two countries.
  6. The 'Arab Spring' has ushered in chaos and the collapse of state 'addresses' in the Middle East – Major countries in the Middle East have broken down into players and sub-state units with unique religious, geographical, cultural, and national identities. This development obstructs the ability to shape the region through direct contact between leaders by means of rational discourse focused on advancing national interests. In addition, regional upheaval has resulted in a great deal of hesitancy and bewilderment in Israel and in the Western countries. These countries are challenged in crafting and implementing policy aimed at avoiding far-reaching breaches of international law and standing agreements, as well as humanitarian catastrophes.
  7. How it affects Israel:
    • On the one hand, religious and secular fundamental hostility against Israel has been renewed in the young generation of the Middle East – This generation has not experienced the decisive military defeats of the previous decades, but has inherited the perception that Israel is a Western and colonial foreign implant. This situation also exists in Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority.
    • On the other hand, Israel is not the primary focus of the region – Most of the major conflicts in the Middle East are internal Arab or internal Islamic and not related to Israel or its conflict with its neighbors. Moreover, a broad layer within the elites and Arab public is developing that rejects attempts to divert discourse from the failures of Arab society by using Israel as a scapegoat.
  8. Iran is approaching regional hegemony and military nuclear capabilities – This development could undermine Israel's alleged nuclear exclusivity, and focus the attention of the international community on Israel's capabilities in this arena.
  9. A military response to the IDF's operating concept has emerged, and conflict is being diverted to additional fields– Israel's adversaries have developed a response to Israel's military and technological superiority that is succeeding in preventing Israel from attaining swift victories without causing significant damage to personnel or to the home front. Additionally, they have developed combat arenas in which Israel has no advantage. Thus, with the exception of the case of Iran, Israel is facing organizations and movements with no state 'addresses.' Israel experiences difficulty in predicting their actions, and in deterring and defeating them. Therefore:
    • Rounds of fighting are becoming longer and occur more frequently;
      Israel's advantage in the combat field is exploited in other fields to damage its legitimacy;
    • The cost of military systems is rising with the costs of new technologies;
    • Ongoing security needs in routine times are increasing;
  10. The home front has become the primary arena that is targeted by frequent and sophisticated rocket attacks.
  11. There is increasing complexity and diverse influences operating both at points of conflict and within the overarching system, resulting in:
    • Difficulty in assigning discrete fields of responsibility and authority in light of the increasing interconnectivity and interdependence between clearly defined fields;
    • Rising importance of non-military dimensions in comparison with past conflicts in which military and political dimensions were dominant. These non-military dimensions include, for example, the battle for legitimacy, international law, the economy, home front resilience, and the media. In this evolving reality, a battle could occur in which there is no clear connection between the military achievement and national success.
    • Difficulty in the ability to understand, evaluate, and define scenarios, and to plan and design a campaign. These difficulties lead to hesitation and reactiveness.
  12. Cracks are surfacing in the 'People's Army model' that was based on the principle of 'the whole nation is the army' and on the division of roles between the regular and reserve units, in which the role of the reserve system is to achieve victory in battle.
  13. Continuous decline in the compulsory military service ethos – An increasing proportion of citizens eligible for recruitment do not complete full and significant military service. In addition, the Arab and ultra-Orthodox populations, which do not serve in substantial numbers, represent significantly growing sectors of the population;
    • Unequal burden in reserve duty – Most able-bodied citizens do not serve a significant reserve duty. The reserve duty related to combat support is negligible, while the burden on those who serve in reserve duty field units is heavy and rigid;
    • Gap between the professional capabilities of the reserves system and the expectation that it constitute the decisive force in battle – The professional capabilities of the reserves are eroding due to training cuts, the broad utilization of the daily operational employment of the military, and the pace of technological change;
    • The army is generating social gaps between elite and technological units, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the 'ordinary' military infantry units, armored units, artillery corps, etc. and home front commands and units. For the former, service is a springboard for human and social capital. For the latter, service can represent a waste of time for those who serve as well as in the broader national perspective.
  14. Israeli society is increasingly challenging the authority of the representatives of the national security system – Complex processes in Israeli society and in the world are leading to breaches in the trust that in the past citizens granted to those in national security leadership roles as unquestioned exclusive authorities.

Table 1: Components of the security strategy against the trends of change


Emerging trend

Components of the security strategy

Diaspora support for Israel is not to be taken for granted as it was in the past

Growing distance between Israel and the Jewish world

The State of Israel is the Jewish state


Challenge to the internal and external legitimacy of the State of Israel


Prolonged control of the Palestinian population and increasing difficulty in ending it. Resulting imbalance between Israel's democratic character and Jewishness

A Jewish majority in the State of Israel

U.S. is not a 'stable rock' as in the past. Israel's ability to influence the Middle East through cooperation decreases


The United States is facing an internal crisis; its dependence on the Middle East decreases, whereas its interest in the Far East increases

Alliance with a superpower

Egypt and Jordan face internal crisis. Turkey turned a cold shoulder to Israel

Israel's establishment of alliances in the Middle East and beyond

Increasing challenges to Israel's political model (Zionism)

A civilian campaign to delegitimize Israel

Fundamental legitimacy of Israel's existence within its borders


Increasing complexity of the arena; lack of political tools to influence

Chaos in the Middle East; the collapse of 'state addresses'; entry of numerous sub-state actors; religious extremism

Rationality / realpolitik in Israel's relations with the Arab world


Growing criticism of the defense establishment and the government when it acts in the political-security field

Opening of the security discourse and activities to include a wider array of actors outside of the institutional system

The state bears exclusive responsibility for national security

The intensified process of emergence in the region renders constant change the new status quo. The conservative 'Iron Wall' approach has currently for the most part run its course 

On the one hand, Israel has achieved absolute military superiority over its rivals for the foreseeable future and interest in Israel is currently diminished in large segments of the Arab world. On the other hand, hostile energy is renewing itself among religious and secular populations and Iran is striving to acquire a nuclear weapon 

The 'Iron Wall' approach to frustrate the Arab objective of destroying Israel is through an activist military that aims at preserving the status quo

Rounds of fighting are longer, more costly, and more frequent than in the past, and do not result in clear Israeli victories

Israel's enemies have developed a combat doctrine that prevents Israel from achieving decisive victories without damaging the home front

Deterrence through decisive victories against enemy armies based on a technological advantage


The Middle East could reach nuclear co-existence. Additionally, the strategic weapon is irrelevant to most of Israel's conflicts

Iran strives to be a regional hegemon with nuclear capabilities.

Existential deterrence by a strategic weapon

Declining effectiveness of the Israeli response


Increase in the centrality of non-military challenges

The security challenge is the main challenge facing the country. The defense establishment is entitled to priority in the allocation of resources


Lack of early warning and ineffective preparation


Strategic events that emerge from the bottom-up

Warning system that enables early preparation

Erosion of the social contract surrounding reserve service

The burden of service is not equal. The reserve system is not professional enough to exact decisive outcomes

The reserves: "The whole nation is the army." The reserve system will win the war.

The army generates social gaps

The army is professionalizing. Additional compensation for those who serve in elite technological and operational units. Unequal service burden

The People's Army Model: The IDF has priority in the allocation of national resources, and in return takes on tasks that are not related to national security



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