A journalist looks around and beyond reporting asks himself: What is it that I do not see? Who is not here who should be? Why is something done in a certain manner and not another?
An analyst looks at commonalities, trends and correlations. Since forecasting is an art, and given that one usually fails in forecasts since one often bases them on past behavior, analysts restrict themselves to providing a set of scenarios, from the probable to the less likely. The choice between the different scenarios is left for decision makers.
A history buff studies history, knowing it is bound to repeat, and attempts to bestow his knowledge on those intent on completely ignoring the past and determined to reinvent the wheel.
The general public trusts the head of state, elected officials and their vast support staff and the military and its various branches to do the right thing and protect them.
And what of the decision makers? They pray nothing bad will happen during their term, on their watch. They often choose the path of least resistance, until life explodes in their faces and presents difficult challenges they must overcome.
A true leader will have to face the inevitable, but will he or she posses the wisdom and courage to do whatever it takes to change the culture that created such current mishaps?
Take the United States, for instance: Are we better prepared today to thwart another 9-11 attack? The answer, despite the billions spent and wasted, is probably not. Why? Because we look at a very successful terror attack and think the terrorists will attempt it again, in exactly the same manner.
Thus, we created a bureaucracy of inept personnel afraid to engage in the only effective defense, behavioral profiling. They shun the obvious lest they affect the sensitive nature of freedom-fighter terrorists and peace-loving others who support them. Instead they target babies or the very elderly in airports for they do, after all, need to justify their salaries.
And what of the terrorists in the meantime? They do not stop devising and preparing for a brand new day, another attack no less daring and equally as ingenious as the previous. In short, it will be the definition of elegance and hit us hard.
So what is left for us to do? In the short run, pray. In the long run, elect someone else to govern us, to set an example, to lead.
Is the situation any different in Israel? It is after all smaller, in terms of the geography of the country, the size of its population and the way everything is connected and thus controlled. In Israel, for instance, various government agencies are interrelated, and it is very easy to track – thus control – an individual’s activities. One need only tap into the vast resources of the government’s various databases. [The flip side is that such interconnectedness makes an attack more ominous, for if penetrated, as happened today, by a particularly malicious agent, unimaginable havoc can be caused, not restricted simply to shutting down the main Government, military and intelligence services gates to the world.]
In Israel, also, processes are accelerated, history is condensed and all experiences much more intense than elsewhere. Thus, one would expect Israel to learn faster, implement more quickly and be ready for whatever comes next.
Instead, Israel is entangled in internal bureaucracy that has slowed it down. Like fatty buildup in arteries, Israeli bureaucrats hang on to their seats and benefits, their nine-to-five workdays and steadfastly refuse to do anything to rock their cushy boat.
Israeli generals, not soldiers, express one too many opinions, typically with an eye to politics. Political correctness has spread like a virus there, also, and confusion is a tool readily and widely exploited by the enemy.
Israel suffers from yet another malady: complacency. Momentary comforts are too attractive to release, the span of horizon is limited to the immediate and too few are willing to sacrifice their own wellbeing for the sake of others or their country.
In short, Israel has become America, except the process there took only from 1948 to the present, whereas in the vast wilderness and expanse of America it began in 1776. Is Israel doomed to fall continuing down the same path as the United States? If everything in Israel happens quicker, then its downfall will signal and signify the eminent downfall of America. Possibly this is the reason Senator McCain called Israel the “Canary in the Coal Mine” and warned Americans we are Islam’s real target.
Let us backtrack for a minute to Israel: Can we diagnose what is wrong and offer a remedy? The journalist in me viewed the past four years and the inevitable shaky ground on which Israel stands and discovered the following: Israel is focused on past failures constantly, and relative to a miserable past performance, it is now doing better.
In the 2006 Second War in Lebanon, the Israeli military was caught with its pants down. One of the strongest armies in the world was exposed having personnel that lacked training, accessed expired supplies and outdated equipment and entangled by agencies not talking and failing to share vital information. Warning signs were evident during the preceding five years, but were ignored in favor of the comforts of the status quo.
Bad times would come, but we will deal with them on as needed, was a prevailing attitude. Why else did Israel ignore the buildup in Southern Lebanon? All indications of an eminent war were there, all stupidly ignored.
At the end of 2008, as Israel embarked on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Israel was very pleased with itself, for many of the past failures exposed were indeed corrected. What Israel failed-or rather refused-to see, and what was evident to me is that the enemy did not freeze during this period of time. It has continued its race, maintaining and increasing its superiority gap over Israel.
I have also seen a clear lack of will, complete loss of conviction and thus all the ingredients to ensure failure. Israel stopped fighting for its own right to exist in the Land of Israel. “Not sure any more,” is the common, confused answer. Such an attitude must lead to exactly one inevitable conclusion: Defeat.
If it were not obvious during the “Maritime Incident of May 31, 2010,” allow me to clarify. Even the name assigned the incident is misleading. It was the Turkish Terrorist Flotilla that resulted in the Goldstone Report and Israel’s conviction in the court of world public opinion. The damage was done. The only temporary remedies that managed to raise Israel’s moral were a sixteen year old boy from Beverly Hills High School, who stood alone against a mob on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, and the satiric segment by Jerusalem-based Caroline Glick’s LATMA, *We Con the World*.
These were individuals or non-government organizations (NGOs). What was the Israeli Government’s or Israeli Defense Forces role in defending Israel? They engaged and were entangled in Israel’s new favorite pastime: Commissions of Inquiry (usually headed by a retired judge) and cross-blames (“you are responsible,” “no, you are responsible!” while no one looks at oneself to share even some of the blame and improve one’s ways).
A year and a half has passed and the flare of flotillas, flytillas and walking onto the borders has subsided a bit, although all methods are still tried. Just today Israel stopped two vessels on their way to Gaza and is deporting those on board either back to their countries or to Gaza. Israel, clearly, has not learned the lesson. If you were the “Freedom Fighters” determined to provoke a reaction, would you not try again, and again? You have achieved international focus, followed by a short processing by those so-called evil, brutal and ruthless Israelis, then an all-expenses-paid flight back.
Once again we fall into the trap of believing we have the “upper hand.” We do not, not in Israel, not in America and definitely not in the West. The last major attempt at a Free Gaza flotilla was thwarted, thanks in large part to the work of NGOs like Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Center) and foreign governments such as Greece, Cyprus and others.
If there is one lesson history buffs would emphasize it is the importance of self-reliance. Israel must trust no one to do its work. Israel must be capable, driven and determined to see things through. Israel cannot depend on NGOs or foreign governments to do what is necessary for its own survival and best interests. It matters not if Israeli agents helped disable some of the vessels, or for that matter who receives the credit. The message was simple: Israel is unwilling, or incapable, to secure results on its own. Such dependency on others-or even the mere expectancy-is a fatal mistake.
What should Israel do differently? Take off the gloves, focus its attention and fight back. Israel should not leave the work to NGOs when there are ministries and other bodies not performing their jobs. Israel cannot wait for other countries to do its dirty work because good will goes only so far. It will happen once, twice, even thrice, and then people and countries will begin asking themselves: Why should we fight when Israel fails to act?
Long ago I worked at a think tank that would present alternative scenarios and different approaches to decision makers. The decades have passed and it is time to belong to the cadre of decision makers. Those at the helm in Israel have failed and Israel is so lean, there is no extra room to be gallant or to lose.
It is time to lead, take matters into our own hands and fight for Israel’s survival. Apparently, what is seen from outside of Israel is either ignored or does not percolate in Israel. There is clearly a disconnect, one that has not been bridged despite the various upheavals and unpleasant experiences Israel has endured in recent years.
Israel is on borrowed time, its enemies are strong and becoming more and more emboldened with every Israeli defeat and every step they take.
World anti-Semitism is raging out of control, reaching a boiling point, and a vow made long ago of “Never Again” can only succeed as long as there is an Israel, and a strong one.
For the sake of every Jewish person around the world, and for humanity as a whole, Israel must wake up and take matters into its own hands. No one will stand with Israel for long, for too many will be happy to see it fall and disappear. In fact, far too many in the world rejoice in Israel’s suffering. Do not mistake a momentary euphoria for actual reality. No one loves Israel, and no one will willingly go to its aid.
Israel, gather all your journalists, analysts, history buffs, inventors, creators and thinkers. Have your leaders listen to them, decide on a course of action and implement the lessons learned from the past. Change direction, your behavior even your leadership. Failing a drastic, immediate change, you will find yourself in an abyss from which you may never escape or survive.