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Israeli footage showing Marmara activists attacking Navy Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office
Israeli footage showing Marmara activists attacking Navy Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office
 
 

Israel losing the war

In this day and age, army must take back seat, let PR professionals run the show

Alex Fishman
Published: 06.20.10, 11:40 / Israel Opinion

We are in the midst of a war, and we’re losing it. Not because we’re weak, or stupid, or because justice isn’t on our side; rather, because in mental and organizational terms we’re unable to adapt ourselves to the new rules of the game.

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As long as the army is the leading element in this war, we’re failing. In this war, the military is indeed part of the setting, logistics, and pyrotechnics. It provides the extras and at times also the main actors, yet the army cannot serve as the scriptwriter, and in most cases it cannot serve as the director.

 

This is the reason for the Israeli failure vis-à-vis the Turkish flotilla, and regrettably we can assume that the Lebanese sail and the ones to follow will else end with some kind of international scandal; it’s important for us to understand why that is.

 

The war guides written by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and by Hezbollah refer to Israel’s elimination via a war of attrition, to be managed on three fronts. On the economic front – boycotting goods, undermining tourism, continued heavy Israeli investment in security, and so on. On the diplomatic-moral front – de-legitimizing the State of Israel, with the flotillas being one of the means for achieving that goal. The third front is wearing us out in the military theater.

 

The third clause is more problematic for them, as it isn’t daily and is subjected to the global interests of Iran and Syria. On the other hand, on the two other fronts we are in the midst of a war, and it’s not necessarily being managed via military means.

 

Hence, the manager of this war on our side should not be the army via the IDF spokesman, but rather, someone on the highest national level, with the best professionals, who would have the knowledge and ability to write the “scripts” for the war and enforce them on all our executive arms, including the army.

 

Hezbollah’s B-movie

The IDF, as an organization that keeps on learning and drawing lessons, knows that we are in the midst of a war of images. Hence, when the military planner builds an operation, it includes a clause about media and PR as part of the operational plan. Yet here is where the mistake lies, as well as the mental block of military personnel: When it comes to current operations, such as the flotillas, media and PR should not be a mere clause in the operational plan. They constitute the core; the essence of the whole plan.

 

The military operation should be a clause that is subjected to this core, rather than the other way around.

 

The army may understand this, yet it is unable to change. For example, it was decided not to fire at the Turkish ship in order to stop it. Yet it didn’t end there. Try to convince the Navy chief that he’s sending in commandoes and missile boats in order to serve as extras in a script written by a civilian who knows nothing about military issues, and on top of that, one who demands that the army adapt its military plan to the cameras of the world’s leading television networks.

 

The logic of a military plan dictates, for example that the raid on the Turkish ship needs to be carried out in early morning hours, under cover of darkness. This is how a military man thinks. Yet a person who thinks about media and PR, and who knows that what’s important is that which can be seen, would choose the opposite option: Such person will demand that the Navy chief prepare a plan that will be carried out in daylight, will look good on television (in line with a script written by this person and executed by the Navy) – and make it clear to the world in simple terms who the “good guys” and “bad guys” are.

 

This logic contradicts the military logic, and hence we should not let military men write the scripts.

 

The Turks wrote a script for a Turkish film for us, where we played the role of “bad guys” in line with the orders of the Turkish director. Indeed, the whole world is shedding tears and hating us at the moment. Meanwhile, Hezbollah is already writing a screenplay for a B-movie, known as the “women flotilla,” and we’re about to fall into the trap yet again.

 

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