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Eitan Haber
Photo: Shalom Bar Tal
We need another army
Op-ed: IDF isn’t enough in face of global de-legitimization campaign faced by Israel
The relatively few people who ever participated in an Israeli government session, any government, are well familiar with the following moment: At the end of a furious debate about some issue, be it growing flowers in the Dead Sea or importing fallow deer from Turkey, silence prevails for a second or two, before everyone turns their gaze to the other end of the table, where he sits: The IDF chief of staff.

 

Everyone expects him to come up with a solution for any problem. We need to count all the seashells in Israel? The IDF shall do it. We need to execute millions of ants raiding our forests? The IDF shall do it. Mr. Army Chief, what do you propose?

 

Since the State’s inception, the IDF had been the solution to any problem and the cure for any malady. The ministers, all of them, are overjoyed when the chief of staff speaks up (as long as he doesn’t say this isn’t a security problem and that the IDF has no business dealing with it.)

 

For dozens of years now, the army has been the executive arm for governments seeking a responsible party and people who would carry out any mission. At worst, the IDF can also provide commission of inquiry members within two hours.

 

This reality creates a distortion in thinking patterns and the search for solutions. Almost any real problem is resolved via force. Who else would block a hostile flotilla heading towards us? The Environment Ministry’s Navy?

 

Israel has not had, does not have, and will likely not have an executive arm that doesn’t shoot and kill. This is apparently the price of 62 years of hostility and security. In Israel today there is no government body that thinks otherwise, operates differently, and can win over hearts worldwide. Everyone – the whole State and every government – dances to the IDF’s tune.

 

Memories of Nazi era

In the current diplomatic climate, one can’t help but take notice of the de-legitimization weapon being directed at Israel. The Jews have shifted from being the world’s favorites to being pariahs. It appears that there are no righteous people in the global Sodom. The world is indeed against us.

 

The following comparison may be infuriating, yet the process we see now is more or less what the Nazis did ahead of World War II: They made the Jews illegitimate and (almost) the whole world cheered them on, or just kept silent at best. The de-legitimization was followed by extermination.

 

The world was and will always be cynical. Ms. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy are looking to the future and counting potential voters. They still try to be Israel’s friends, for the time being, yet the anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist shouts are already making their way from the streets to their offices. What will they be doing in the face of millions of Muslims in Europe?

 

We’re already in the midst of the war – which is not military in nature at this phase – for our existence. It’s a war that does not involve killing or shooting. Have we identified the danger? And what are we doing in order to counter it?

 

Israel must immediately establish a huge body – a sort of IDF in a different format. We need an army without uniforms that would attempt to fight back against Islamic, global Jihad, against the ubiquitous de-legitimization process, against the indifference, and possibly also against the despair among us.

 

In his interesting doctoral dissertation, Nachman Shai reviewed Israel’s public diplomacy failures in recent decades. At the conclusion of a fascinating analysis, he proposed that we rely on the “molecules” – that is, hundreds of thousands of Jews and non-Jews worldwide who would assume the task of winning over their neighbor, their priest, the shopkeeper who emigrated from Pakistan, their mayor, and possibly even their prime minister.

 

What we need today is an immense, well-resourced body that would aim to win the hearts of billions of human beings wherever they are, in a bid to turn the tide; a body that would aim to cover whole states and continents and use all available (non-military) tools and all means at our disposal (and while at it, possibly also wake up the Jewish people from its current stupor.)

 

Ages ago, veteran journalists would end such article with five words: “Our lives depend on it.”

 

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