INTO THE FRAY column: The IDF & Gaza: Soldiers or sociologists?

For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column

The IDF & Gaza: Soldiers or sociologists?

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Has the IDF brass forgotten that they are soldiers, charged with providing military solutions to physical threats to the nation’s security; not sociologists, tasked with diagnosing the societal ailments of its sworn enemies

It appears this week on the following sites (in alphabetical order):


Several short excerpts:

the IDF General Staff has been insisting there is only one thing Israel can do about Gaza. According to our generals, Israel needs to shower Hamas with stuff. Food, medicine, water, electricity, medical supplies, concrete, cold hard cash, whatever Hamas needs, Israel should just hand it over in the name of humanitarian assistance. Every single time reporters ask the generals what Israel can do to end Hamas’s jihadist campaign, they give the same answer. Let’s shower them with stuff. – Caroline B. Glick, Who Leads Israel? June 1, 2018.

Israel’s security establishment continues to look for solutions to the situation in the Gaza Strip, as security sources on Monday warned about an approaching complete economic collapse in the Gaza Strip…Those sources pointed out that preventing a humanitarian disaster in Gaza is an urgent matter of national security for Israel. – David Isaacs, Israeli Defense Establishment Warns of Complete Economic Collapse in Gaza, Jewish Press, June 11, 2018.

We are still faced with the absolutely crucial problem of making the intellectual and imaginative effort not to project our ideas of common sense or natural motivation onto the products of totally different cultures… [People] assume that the light of their own parochial common sense is enough. And they frame policies based on illusions. Yet how profound is this difference between political psychologies and between the motivations of different political traditions, and how deep-set and persistent these attitudes are. – Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century, 1999.

Earlier this week, the Israeli security cabinet convened to discuss the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Thankfully, the meeting…did not produce any operational decision or any undertaking on the part of Israel to attempt to alleviate the situation in Gaza.

A recipe to enrich Hamas

However, the very fact that a security cabinet meeting took place at all to discuss how improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza could somehow contribute towards easing the security situation, is in itself disturbing and disappointing.… For it is demonstrably incontrovertible that the privation in Gaza is the result of, not the reason for, the incandescent hatred of the Jewish state.

Beyond the IDF’s professional purview

Arguably, one of the most disconcerting elements of the security cabinet meeting was that it seems to have been convened under pressure from senior IDF officers, who consider that a collapse of civilian infrastructures in Gaza was imminent, and such collapse would precipitate a severe security predicament for Israel…This, in many ways, is an inappropriate overreach by the IDF, well beyond its professional purview..

Tactical genius, strategic myopia

IDF destroys terror tunnel in Gaza
IDF destroys terror tunnel in Gaza

As someone who served for several years in operational capacities in the Israel security establishment, I have great respect for the ingenuity, dedication and sacrifice of the men and woman who serve in it. …Accordingly, it is no easy task for me to level criticism at those for whom I have a sense of genuine regard and natural comradeship. However, it is becoming increasing apparent that the Israeli security establishment is seemingly incapable of translating its indisputable and undisputed technical/tactical genius into clear and coherent strategic wisdom.

Both inappropriate and invalid

Anti-Semitic Friday sermon in Gaza: Sheikh As’ad Abu Shari’a, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement , May 11, 2018
Anti-Semitic Friday sermon in Gaza: Sheikh As’ad Abu Shari’a, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement , May 11, 2018

Indeed, not only are the IDF forays into the realm of sociology formally inappropriate, they are also substantively invalid…After all, the grim state of affairs is not the result of any scarcity of international funding or Israeli largesse. In past years, Gaza has had an abundance of both –and has squandered them both…

Occupation as a humanitarian remedy??

… under Israeli occupation, societal conditions in the “West Bank”/Gaza soared beyond all recognition—only to plunge once it ended….Last week, I urged readers to familiarize with themselves with an article, “What Occupation?”, by Prof. Efraim Karsh… It provides staggering statistics on the meteoric socio-economic development of the Palestinian-Arabs under Israeli administration…

Occupation as a humanitarian remedy?? (cont.)

Under Israeli “Occupation”, the Palestinians-Arabs made vast progress in social welfare: “… mortality rates in the West Bank and Gaza fell by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 1990, while life expectancy rose from 48 years in 1967 to 72 in 2000 (compared with an average of 68 years for all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa). Israeli medical programs reduced the infant-mortality rate of 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 in 2000

Carpe diem: Humanitarian crisis as an opportunity

…since the IDF would certainly balk at the prospect of re-instating the “Occupation”—especially if it is indeterminate and open-ended, while we wait for Palestinian-Arabs to morph into something they have not been for the last century and show no sign of doing so in any foreseeable future, there is only one other alternative to alleviate the humanitarian crisis…This is to fund the permanent relocation/rehabilitation of non-belligerent Palestinian-Arab individuals to third party countries, “outside the circle of violence” and free of the clutches of the cruel corrupt cliques who have led them into disaster after disaster for decades…

In this regard, the current humanitarian crisis is an opportunity—and should be recognized as such…The time has come for Israel to seize the moment. Carpe diem!

As usual your talkbacks/comments/critiques welcome,
Best wishes,

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