We’ve already forgotten

Only a few weeks have passed since Operation Protective Edge came to an end; we’ve only had a few weekends free of explosions and already everything is back to normal.

IDF soldiers take part in Operation Protective Edge. (photo credit: ANNA GOLIKOV)
IDF soldiers take part in Operation Protective Edge.
(photo credit: ANNA GOLIKOV)
Only a few weeks have passed since Operation Protective Edge came to an end.
We’ve only had a few weekends free of explosions and already everything is back to normal.
Everything has calmed down and we’ve forgotten everything that happened.
We forgot that 72 people lost their lives in a war we entered too late, without being properly prepared, as a limited response to Hamas’s incessant rocket fire.
And we also ended the war too quickly before we had completed our task.
Throughout the entire war, the government was hesitant, apprehensive, lacking determination, courage and leadership.
This was just the latest episode of a war that has been fought for years. Each episode is a repeat of the same eerily similar incidents.
The only difference is that each one is given an impressively creative name that the top IDF teams work hard to come up with.
There is no end in sight and the leadership on both sides are doing nothing to bring an end to this war that continues to simmer as it is fueled by a lack of strategic vision and leadership.
It is endlessly powered by fear, cowardice, lack of courage and irrelevant personal issues.
Something bad has been taking place for years now in this leadership-less world. The Western world, which is supposed to be leading us towards social and technological progress in a secure environment, has failed to elect worthy leaders, visionaries who could lead us forward.
On the other hand, other areas of the world are being led by courageous and determined leaders with vision. Unfortunately, the latter are the extremist murderers who rule Iran, Turkey, al-Qaida, Islamic State and Hamas.
Nothing new is happening in the West.
Europe is showing signs of economic disintegration led by Germany, which also lacks any visionary leadership. The US is rapidly losing its position as policeman of global democracy, mainly due to the indifference and unwillingness of its leadership to intervene outside of American borders.
And neither is our government making any clear decisions. It isn’t initiating any new projects or forging any new strategies.
Unfortunately, our future does not look promising. Prof. Barry Eichengreen of the University of California, Berkeley, believes the next crisis will take place in a leader-less world and that the only solution is global collaboration, which doesn’t seem likely.
And so it will be every man for himself, and each country will have to deal with its crises on its own. If we want to counteract this phenomenon, we will need to be unified and act courageously and with determination.
In Israel, the IDF is once again threatening to halt military training if it doesn’t receive the funding it believes it deserves. Another NIS 6 million will be taken from education, health and public safety and handed to the bottomless pit of the defense establishment.
And this is after the Defense Ministry received an unimaginably large amount of funds on top of its regular budget. The cuts were rescinded and new additions were agreed upon. One-fifth of the country’s budget is spent on defense. Almost eight percent of our GDP finds its way into this deep pit that can never be filled, while all the other areas collapse.
Below is a list of all the areas that this money could be funding if it weren’t going towards defense (data courtesy of Globes).
NIS 1.9b. is needed to fund after-school programs, which would lift a huge burden from the shoulders of young couples.
NIS 3.6b. is needed to build 4,500 classrooms, which would reduce overcrowding (Israel has among the highest rates in the world).
NIS 2.5b. is needed to add medical staff and 2,000 beds in hospitals.
NIS 2b. is needed to add 100 apartments for young couples every year and for supplements for the needy and elderly.
The above totals NIS 10b. These funds would dramatically improve the country’s position.
If the IDF would be willing to forgo part of this astronomical additional grant, and would purchase three fewer fighter jets, it would save between NIS 300m. - 500m. With this sort of money, Israel Police could hire thousands more officers and purchase hundreds of police cars.
Ishay Davidi, founder and CEO of private equity firm FIMI said, “The fund’s business success is due to its high-level strategic thinking.
It’s time that the State of Israel carried out such thinking. Israel is not leveraging its citizens’ talents and preparing strategic plans.
Enough with all these individuals who’ve been in decision-making positions for 30 years.
We need to integrate young people into the thinking circles so that we can come up with innovative ideas.”
So what can we do? The government must dramatically change its national priorities and invest a lot more in public safety and improve the police’s deterrence and size. We need to channel resources to education, reduce corruption in teachers’ unions, improve infrastructure, stop funding unrecognized institutions and help young people who strive for excellence reach universities.
We need to revamp the crumbling healthcare system and improve world opinion. We need to be willing to negotiate with the Palestinians (if and when a suitable leader emerges) and our other Arab neighbors.
Decision-making processes need to be based on the interests of the state and the citizens, not political parties and personal interests.
The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
Translated by Hannah Hochner.