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The following essays were produced by leading Israeli legislators and analysts and distributed at a meeting of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus in May 2022. They are now available in English for the first time.
Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes, who began developing the concept of Israel Victory in the late 1990s, outlines its core precepts and lines of inquiry for putting it into action.
MK Zvi Hauser argues that the “astounding growth in the scope, range, and accuracy of Hamas’s rockets and missiles will leave Israel no choice but to make the dismantling of this deadly arsenal its goal.”
MK Evgeny Sova observes that Israel’s many battlefield successes over the past 75 years did not translate into “victory awareness,” which is when “the losing side admits to having lost” and “no one questions the war’s outcome.” It is “not enough to vanquish the enemy; the world must also know and be convinced that you won.”
The historic military victories of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) over the past 75 years were the result of two essential ingredients, writes Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak Brick: “brave warriors ready to sacrifice their lives” and a “founding emphasis on winning” whatever the cost. Unfortunately, those attitudes are “in retreat” in the IDF today, where a “defeatist mind-set” and “desire for loss avoidance” prevail. The result has been “a severe decline in the ground forces’ morale and capabilities,” for which Israel’s technological military supremacy cannot compensate. “Strengthening the IDF’s fighting spirit is a supreme national mission, which should be predicated on two main foundations: reviving the ethos of self-sacrifice and sanctifying the value of victory.”
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Hilik Sofer examines the crucial role played by the home front in Israel’s conflicts against Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations along its periphery. The growing ability of these enemies to threaten civilian population centers with missiles and drones is complemented by the growing willingness of Israeli Muslims to engage in violence when the country is under attack. Although the home front is “better prepared today” than during the 2006 Lebanon war, the “tardy and haphazard” response by Israeli police to this threat during the 2021 Gaza war underscores the need to establish a national guard and improve the state’s ability to provide other “necessary support” to the population during a prolonged conflict.
The eruption of widespread violence by Arab Israelis against their Jewish neighbors as Hamas rockets rained down on Israel in May 2021 caught Israeli police unprepared, but civil society organizations mobilized volunteers to carry out a “string of vital functions left lacking by the state,” explains Sarah Haetzni-Cohen. Building on this system of emergency civilian preparedness is an important component of Israel Victory.
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Amir Avivi argues that the Israeli government’s failure to curb “Bedouin lawlessness and criminality” in the Negev, which comprises more than half of Israeli territory, will encourage challenges to Israeli sovereignty elsewhere and “attract greater external aggression.”
Tom Nisani argues that the status quo on the Temple Mount, “preventing Jews from freely accessing their holiest site, conveys a message of defeat that emboldens Palestinian rejectionism.”
Shlomo Ne’eman argues that the tendency of Israelis to accept the legitimacy of, and even empathize with, the Palestinian narrative only “encourages violence and perpetuates the conflict.” Israelis must regain their forefathers’ “unwavering belief” in the justness of their cause.
Yifa Segal refutes the erroneous argument that poverty causes Palestinian violence and its corollary – that economic inducements are the best way to win over Palestinian hearts and minds to peace.