There is no other more important aspect to the existence of a sovereign country than its security. For Israel, this aspect is existential 2.O. Every single Jew who cares about the Jewish people and their sovereignty must have a stake in Habithonistim.
For years I have been warning about Israel’s weakening security within the country and beyond its borders.
Policies that shoot the country in its foot, i.e. giving away parts of its sovereign land; allowing Arabs to build illegally on Israel’s sovereign land and thus expanding into Israel’s land integrity; constantly evacuating Jews from their newly established community in Judea and Samaria; never ending any war with a total victory, rather, always a cease fire that brings about another war a few years down the road; allowing anti-Israel organizations, the likes of B’Tselem to constantly subvert Israel from within.
These are some of the security aspects that I either accuse Israel of mishandling or right out neglecting to properly tackle them.
I was seeking some answers. I approached Amir Avivi, Brigadier General (ret.) in the Combat Engineering Corps of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) who is the Founder and CEO of Habithonistim. The translation of Habithonistim from Hebrew is “security guards,” to assist me with my concerns. Here is what I unearthed.
After 2000 of years exile, ongoing persecutions, culminating in 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, Jews fought their way into establishing their third commonwealth, the modern state of Israel.
From a sense of mission, vision, commitment and audaciousness, Jews gathered in their ancient homeland, their count as of 2021 is 6,894,000.
Today, 73 years after becoming an independent state, the core values of self-determination-Zionism and the price Jews have paid to have their Jewish state, in their ancestral land, have almost been forgotten.
Israel faces a security threat from radical Islamic forces. Missiles, which rained on Israel, from Hezbollah to the north, from Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza to the south, are very scary, but Arab and Muslim rage, to include antisemitism, and Islam radicalism is much scarier. Also very scary is a possible nuclear Iran, from 1,071.54 mi (1,724.48 km) air-line distance to Israel, and wavering, or significantly reduced, support on the world’s stage.
Shameful lack of objectivity, deception, lies and biased reporting on Israel and its wars of defense often appear in world media.
Israel is considered to be the Jewish nation’s safe haven. As such, Israel must ensure its survival by having the ability to defend itself by itself. Since twice in Jewish history – First Temple destruction in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar and on August 4, 70 CE, the 9th Day of the Hebrew month of Av, by the Roman legions under Titus who retook and destroyed much of Jerusalem and the Second Temple – the Jewish people lost their sovereignty in their homeland, the Jewish people must ensure that this will never happen again. Placing national security interests above all else is the vital approach.
Married to Anat and father to two boys and two girls, Amir’s family is a proud 15 generations of Jerusalem resident Jews who arrived in Israel from Spain some 400 years ago. During the ongoing fighting for independence, in the late 30s and 40s, the Haganah – the main Zionist paramilitary Jewish organization in Mandatory British Palestine, between 1920 and 1948, when it became the core of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – gave Amir’s grandfather, then carrying the last name Dasa, the Hebrew name Avivi. That name was adopted and replaced the family’s original last name.
As a son of a prominent Israeli diplomat, Amir spent most of his childhood and youth abroad – Italy, Argentina, and the Ivory Coast, receiving his education in American and British schools. And thus he speaks Spanish, Italian, English and Hebrew.
At the age of 18, he arrived in Israel to serve in the IDF, first year as a Lone Soldier.
His draft service turned out to be a 30-year military career that included a platoon and battalion commander during the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield. Operation Defensive Shield was the the largest military operation in Judea and Samaria, AKA ‘West Bank’ since the 1967 Six-Day War. The operation’s stated goal was to stop the endless terrorist attacks on Israelis.
The battalion commander position was followed by his appointment as Aide-de-Camp, the personal assistant to then IDF Chief of the General Staff Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon. In this position Amir was exposed, first hand, to national level military and government discussions.
Founding the Habithonistim
In 2017 Amir retired from his military career. In the next three years he lectured on Israel’s national security needs and the Arab-Israeli conflict all over the world. He was invited to speak in the White House, Senate, House, parliaments and universities. He found that the prominent public arena is captured by the Leftist-Progressive narratives and there are no other balancing opinions.
In January 2020, Amir heard that then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump began talks about Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley.
Though Habithonistim was then just a Facebook group, in a letter to Netanyahu, Amir opined that the Habithonistim supports this sovereignty. The letter went viral and within two weeks, 300 retired IDF officers joined the Habithonistim idea.
Amir’s recruiting motto has been biblical, from the Ki-Tissa portion, in the book of Exodus: “And Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, who is for God he is with me, and they shall be gathered unto him.”
Habithonistim is a non-profit organization and a movement. Its board of directors is made of IDF high rank officers and of excellent standing public life persons. The organization was founded in February 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is Israel’s Defense and Security Forum, and its goal is to educate, influence and shape Israel’s strategic national security needs that must never cross any red lines, in order to create a secured Israel, currently and for future generations.
Since its inception, the organization has experienced remarkable exponential growth. Its membership now consists of over 2,000, of military reserve service, high-ranking Israeli IDF officers and commanders, also operators from the intelligence and police ranks, and some of Israel’s leading academics and researchers.
With its members’ background and expertise, Habithonistim can comfortably offer an authoritative voice of reason along which it can promote a realistic vision of Israel’s national security needs, based on objective military principles that can meet any future risk Israel may face.
Habithonistim are proud Israelis. With their knowledge and conviction with policymakers and the general public – of all ages – their love for the Jewish state and the Jewish people they are willing to do all that is required to defend and secure the Jewish state and the Jewish people’s future.
To ensure Israel’s national security, Habithonistim, with their authoritative and informed voices, educate policy makers and the general public about Israel’s security needs and the importance of maintaining defensible borders via security through strength policies.
Vision, Strategy and Perspective
The vision is to impact millions of people in Israel and all over the world as follows:
1/ Bring policy makers and the public to clearly understand that Israel’s national security is the number one priority to endure Israel’s survival and future;
2/ Revive the core of Zionism, the indisputable right of the Jewish people to self-determination;
3/ Revive the state of Israel’s Jewish values that are its national security’s core foundation.
By mobilizing tens of thousands of Israeli military reserve officers to serve as ambassadors for Habithonistim causes, policy makers, media and the public at large will be well informed and cooperative.
Habithonistim is seeking to build in Jerusalem an institute devoted to Israel’s national security interests and goals. Serving as a flagship center, the institute will educate, impact and shape policies and the national discourse. By having educational classes with interactive and advanced platforms, research and hosting conferences the institute will become a beacon that will impact millions.
Amir and I entered into a lengthy Zoom interview to which I prepared several questions and to which he replied as follows:
NG: “Why you, why not the government of Israel standing strong on the state’s national security issues?”
AmirA: “Basically Israel’s national security is made of two camps, each has a different approach, but both do not see the big picture. When looking at Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley’s sovereignty aspect they only see what may happen.
One camp sees it through applying sovereignty by which Israel will have to absorb 2 million Arabs who will become Israeli citizens. An idea they reject. They are wrong. Long term solutions could be found and implemented. Solutions to the conflict also could be found without endangering Israel’s existence and its vital national security needs.
The other camp is of the strong belief, not based on ideology, that Judea and Samaria is Israel’s ancestral heartland without which, national security wise, Israel cannot exist.”
NG: “When did you see the fault line and the need to establish Habithonistim?”
AmirA: “In 2004-2005, due to the Oslo Accords, the conflict’s fighting intensified and Israel’s national security deteriorated. Our command heard that then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to disengage from Gaza, evacuate the Israeli communities in the Strip.
A few days after we heard the rumor, in a cabinet meeting in which I participated on the sideline, Sharon asked Avi Dichter, then the head of Shabak, Israel Security Agency and General Ya’alon their opinion on the possible disengagement plan.
Both men were of the strong opinion that in one year after Israel left the Strip, Gaza would become hell on earth, a Gazastan. With an open border to Egypt. Arms would flow into Hamas’s hands in the strip that would aim at Israel. How right they were.
A few months later, PM Sharon, who claimed that Gaza would turn to be the Singapore of the Middle East, fired his Chief of Staff Ya’alon and replaced him with General Dan Halutz. Surprisingly, the military echelon changed their mind overnight; they were now for the disengagement.
There and then I realized and understood that neither the politicians nor the military establishment can be trusted. They look at promotion and secured salary not at our national security needs.
I was then in clear mind that we must have an apolitical institute that is thoroughly dedicated to Israel’s national security. I knew that Habithonistim must be established.
“Every single Jew who cares about the Jewish people and their sovereignty must have a stake in Habithonistim so it can develop to be a national institute which serves the entire nation of Israel from a strong Zionist-Jewish identity before there are any peace plans. Only strength can task Israel and the Jewish people’s national security.”
“In 1947 then-US President Harry Truman was strongly advised not to recognize Israel’s independence. Reason, Israel was weak, the Arabs states were strong. Immediately after Israel declared its independence, in 1948, the United States declared an arms embargo on the nascent Jewish state. The turnaround in relations came about after the Six Day War, in 1967, when the United States recognized Israel’s strength.”
“If you are strong, the better your name on the world stage, and the better relations you will establish. The Abraham Accords came about because the Arab states recognized Israel’s strength. Strength brings peace, prosperity and more friends from around the world.”
NG: “What about the Leftist organizations, funded by foreign countries that constantly subvert Israel?”
AmirA: “Habithonistim fights to clean up the radical organizations’ mess. We fight on social media and educate as well as influence policy decision-makers.”
NG: “Im Tirtzu study finds that between 2016 and 2020, the UN funneled some $40 million to 19 Palestinian organizations associated with the BDS movement. Israel Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan plans to demand ‘comprehensive discussion about the UN’s financing mechanisms.'” What say you?”
AmirA: “It is a fight over our land to get hold of as much land as possible which the European Union extensively funds to overtake. One approach is to establish farms on vast land. In the last five years we have already established 40 farms and there is a need for 60 more farms. Then we must sustain these farms. It is a constant battle to protect these farms from the Arabs who assault, steal and burn the property.
HaShomer Yosh are the guardians of these farms’ land from incessant land and animal losses. Losses come from theft, fires, physical violence, and yes, even deaths of those trying to guard their homeland.”
NG: “What is your ‘2-state solution’ position?”
AmirA: “It depends what it means ‘2-state solution.’ Leaving Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley is the destruction of Israel.”
NG: “What about Gaza?”
AmirA: “There is no good solution for Gaza, only a bad one and a very bad one. The IDF is getting ready to deal with Iran and Hezbollah and the Gaza issue is pushed aside because the only solution is to re-enter Gaza and destroy Hamas. In fact that is what Iran and Hezbollah would like to see happen which will weaken the IDF deterrence in Israel’s north. So, for now, the IDF continuously attacks Hamas and constantly aims to destroy its infrastructure.”
NG: “Is it all about demographics?”
AmirA: “As long as you can find a solution for the Arabs’ citizenship, healthy separation does not change. Coexistence and cooperation is good for both sides so long as there is physical separation with the Arabs having their own ID and citizenship card.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is an enemy terror group. I will be happy to see it dissolved and to find better solutions to the PA with only one sovereign – Israel – from the River-to-the Sea.”
NG: “What about the Israeli-Arabs who are going through radicalization that is dangerous to Israel?”
AmirA: “We need to strengthen our police and the border police forces at the expense of the IDF. We need to be tough on the Israeli-Arab radical Islamist problematic group and call them for what they are, the enemy of Israel. On the other hand cherish those Arabs who want to be part of Israel’s social fabric.
Many Israeli Arabs buy into the anti-Israel Arab narrative. We must apply the right education about Jewish history and constantly claim the true Zionist vision, which is the national home for the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Once we understand us we will understand the entire world’s complexity.
You cannot run a state without having red lines on your goals and interests; on what you can compromise and on what you cannot. And stay strong on all your points. The more the Arabs think that they can win the more they will continue to fight. But when they understand that they cannot win, they will come to the table and will compromise. Don’t just think, be brave to speak up.”
NG: “Antisemitism is on the rise; does it affect Israel and if yes how?”
AmirA: “My message to world Jewry: In the 19th century, when Theodore Herzl warned about the great danger the Jews in the Diaspora were facing he also was desperate to find a solution. He wanted to take the Jews out of the possible extinction he foresaw. So much so that he was prepared to suggest a Jewish state in Uganda. The Jews did not listen to Herzl. Six millions died in the Holocaust a few years later.
In the not so distant future we, the Jewish people, may face a similar reoccurrence, the like of the Holocaust; not as bad but bad enough. Antisemitism is not going to go away. The Diaspora has no future. Making Aliyah, moving to Israel, is the future.
In the next decade Israel must get ready to absorb millions of Jews. For that matter Habithonistim keeps spreading wider to secure Israel’s national land ownership, certainly not giving away more land.
The state of Israel needs more Jews. I myself care about the life of every Jew. I do not let political correctness stand in my way. I say to each and every Jew: not making Aliyah endangers you, your children and your future generations’ life.
Admitting that there is no solution to Antisemitism and Jews cannot really fight it is the first step. Investing in building Israel is the future.
For the past 27 years, on Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of the month of Av, in the Hebrew calendar, Israelis have been holding a traditional Flag Day evening walk in Jerusalem. The walk normally ends after midnight and the crowd then disperses to their homes. Not this year. Instead, many of the participants walked to the Western Wall for a prayer, asserting that good hearted Jews and Jewish spirit is not at all dead in the land of Israel, as the progressive media always toots.
This article is written on the 9th day of the month of Av, the day of mourning when Jews commemorate the destruction of their two Temples.
Here is Amir’s message today from Jerusalem, to the Jews wherever they are: “There is no national security without nationalism, Zionism and Judaism. No tank, radar, Iron Dome or a plane can replace the Jewish-Zionist spirit thanks to which Jews can fight and defend themselves in their homeland. I call on the Knesset of Israel, unite. Unity is the essence of the people of Israel. It is not possible that today there is a government that has handed the keys to rule and power to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. It demeans and endangers the State of Israel.”
The Jewish people’s war for existence is not against Iran or even the recent invisible enemy COVID. It is the Jewish nation’s battle for their self-determination and Jewish identity in their ancestral homeland.
The era of globalism has brought upon the Jewish people a new endangering enemy. That enemy is trivialization along with the lessening of self-determination and the importance of Jewish identity. Self-determination and Jewish identity are incorrectly seen as not that important and are taken less seriously than they should, even falling under the excuse that they are too difficult to maintain.
“We must take our future into our own hands and the Holocaust is our witness,” Amir manages to insert one more sensible national security claim.
I truly hope and pray that Habithonistim are on the path to change all that.