Courageous leadership

Israel does not follow an “excessively high moral standard” out of self-righteousness.

IDF soldiers take part in Operation Protective Edge (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF soldiers take part in Operation Protective Edge
Governance, leadership, security and values.
Sometimes, it seems as if there is no connection between these concepts. Sometimes we have the feeling that although we have a government, our leaders do not possess the values we cherish. And without a moral leadership, we cannot achieve security.
And sometimes even when our leadership does possess values we cherish, our security is still harmed. Why does this happen? It’s due to a lack of courageous leaders.
At a recent conference held by the IDF Military Advocate-General, Israel was blamed for causing great damage to Western militaries.
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 According to Dr. Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, a professor of public law, particularly public international law, European law and foreign constitutional law at Viadrina European University in Frankfurt, Germany, the IDF acted with great restraint and demonstrated superior values during its most recent military operation last summer. According to von Heinegg, though, the moral standards that the IDF sets are much higher than what is necessary and acceptable, which creates a difficult problem for other Western militaries, which cannot possibly keep to this standard.
Israel does not follow an “excessively high moral standard” out of self-righteousness.
It stems rather from fear. Israeli leaders are fearful of international committees of inquiry and anti-Semitic UN delegations that hold our fate in their hands. This fear reaches down to every single member of Knesset and heads of the security establishment, who worry about arrest warrants and bad publicity.
Soldiers worry that their photo could go viral on the Internet with the caption: war criminal. They fear hate campaigns that organizers claim are humanitarian, but which have only one goal: to root out all the Zionists.
During the most recent Operation Protective Shield, each step was first checked with a series of lawyers and legal advisers. Every target was double checked before it was bombed.
The day the IDF generals stopped leading the war and turned the reins over to the battery of lawyers and legal advisers, another level of Israeli deterrence was lost. This has been happening for years now due to the lack of offensive operations and clear and firm policies. Our Islamic terrorist opponents understood long ago that our bark is worse than our bite.
Nonetheless, I must admit that the IDF deserves praise for the efficiency program Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot inaugurated this week. Over the next two years, the military will cut thousands of jobs, close entire reserve battalions, and relieve 100,000 reservists of their duty. This plan, which includes a long list of tasks, should have been introduced years ago.
Considering that Israel cannot not manage to rehabilitate its educational system and has a health system that is on the brink of collapse, we certainly cannot afford to be shelling out 20 percent of our state budget for defense.
There is not currently an existential threat to the survival of the State of Israel. As much as the anti-Zionist forces surrounding us enjoy continuously harassing us and the possibility of one or a combination of them attacking us on any scale exists, these scenarios are unlikely. None of the neighboring Arab countries, the Palestinians, Hamas, nor any of the barbaric Islamist organizations in Syria and Lebanon is likely to attack us, for fear of reprisal.
Even Iran, despite all of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declarations, does not pose a threat to Israel’s existence. There is no doubt that the agreement the world powers signed last week with Tehran is terrible, to say the least, since it enables the Iranians to continue secretly developing nuclear bombs without having to deal with international inspectors, and its economy will now enjoy free trade with the rest of world, including purchasing weapons. However, Iran is still far from achieving its first nuclear bomb, and the truth is that even once it gets its hands on one, it will mainly be used for deterrence.
But if this is the case, then why are our country’s leaders continuously harping on about Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas? A courageous leadership can multitask and overcome multiple obstacles on a daily basis.
A courageous leadership addresses problems that plague its people and serves the people in the best way possible, and certainly not out of fear. It does not distort reality and present a false picture to its citizens. A courageous leadership initiates political and military actions, instead of always procrastinating and putting out fires. Courageous leaders know how to create a vision and implement a strategy.
Sometimes it seems like Israel has not been blessed with a visionary leader since David Ben-Gurion. And in the absence of courageous leadership, our country has been overrun by radical interest groups that quarrel with one another and are continuously making attempts to grab more power as strife and discord grow among the people.
A strong, courageous and moral leadership could bring back security and improve our daily lives. This is not just a slogan; this is a work plan for our country’s leaders.
The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Translated by Hannah Hochner.