From arens@ISI.EDU Sun Oct 2 02:26:51 1994

Received: from ( []) by (8.6.9/8.6.4) with SMTP id CAA06042 for <>; Sun, 2 Oct 1994 02:26:49 -0500

Received: by (5.65c/5.61+local-16)

id <AA03887>; Sun, 2 Oct 1994 00:26:34 -0700

Date: Sun, 2 Oct 1994 00:26:34 -0700

From: arens@ISI.EDU (Yigal Arens)

Message-Id: <>


Subject: 123-Changes_in_Army_5_93

Status: O


Report No. 123 Israel Shahak, 30 May 1993




Western public opinion is preoccupied by little aside from the

"peace process" as far as Israeli policies are concerned. Israeli

public opinion pays more attention to other matters such as the

deep changes in the Israeli army that started some time before

June 1992 when this subject was first raised in the Hebrew press.

Since that time, the purpose of these changes, their underlying

strategy, and their impact on the Israeli Jewish civilian

population have been hotly debated to the extent to that military

censorship permits (but sometimes perhaps encourages) such

debates. A crucial factor stimulating the changes in question and

the reassessment of Israeli military strategies, is the prospect

of the nuclearization of Iran and of the possible use of Israeli

nuclear power. This report will be confined to the later stage of

the debate, roughly from the months of April and May 1993.

Occasional references to its earlier stages will be made when

needed for the elucidation of the political background. The

report will concentrate on those aspects which have to do with

the Israeli long-time grand strategy and with its current foreign

policies. The discussion of the impact of planned changes on the

Israeli Jewish civilian population, which for the Hebrew press

has held the keenest interst, will be treated here rather



One point needs to be emphasized at the beginning. Almost all

Israeli discussants take "the next war" for granted as a virtual

certainty. I have not noticed any general or informed military

correspondent who would deviate from the reiterated consensus to

this effect. Let me give two recent examples.


The Israeli public and the media are now agitated by accidental

killing of 4 paratroopers by Israel's own troops, which came on

top of a succession of earlier errors of the same kind. The

reaction of the Chief of Staff, Ehud Barak, as reported by Uzi

Benziman (Haaretz, May 28), "was to blame Israeli society. Barak

asked wherein its erstwhile toughness has been gone.... He

wondered where is an Israeli social, intellectual and even

political leadership capable of calming the popular excitement...

As Barak reiterates after some soldiers were killed in error, the

succession of the State of Israel's wars is by no means

terminated as yet. It would therefore be preferable if the

Israelis learn to keep cool about such sorrows, in preparation

for the experiencing many more of them during the coming bloody

hostilities". When Aluf Ben, possibly the best-informed of

Haaretz's military correspondents, interviewed (Haaretz, May 13)

"general Shalom Haggai, the Head of Quartermastership Department

of the General Staff who is in charge of all logistic problems of

the Israeli army", the latter's main message was aptly epitomized

in Ben's title: "The next war will be won with less casualties on

our part than in the previous wars".


The second point taken for granted in the mentioned debates is

that Iran is Israel's main but not the only enemy. Debated are

the "right" political and military preparations for "the next

war", the likely timing of its outbreak and the likely enemies

apart from Iran. Possible reactions of Iran and other likely

enemy states are anticipated. It would be a gross mistake to

dismiss this talk about the coming war and about Iran as a

rhetoric or disinformation. After all, those topics are dwelt

upon by nearly all Israeli experts when they are addressing a

domestic audience in earnest rather than speechifying to

foreigners. It doesn't follow that I regard the Israeli experts

as infallible. On the contrary I think that they are becoming

increasingly vulnerable to errors and wishful thinking. But I do

regard their virtual consensus as politically meaningful.


The most momentous matters are of course the nuclear weapons,

especially since the expected nuclearization of Iran is

officially cited as the reason for Israel to go to war. It is,

however, also the subject on which the censorship is the most

strict, except when guided by contrary considerations. During the

period covered by this report, the nuclearization of the Middle

East was discussed at the symposium held by the prestigious

Center for Strategic Studies at the Tel Aviv University which was

a major event attended by major experts. The symposium was

extensively covered by Yoav Kaspi (Hotam, Friday's Supplement of

Al Hamishmar, May 21). MK Efraim Sneh (Labor), who served for a

long time in intelligence-related jobs in the army and who is

widely regarded as one of the best informed strategic experts in

the Labor Knesset faction, opined that "it is still possible to

prevent Iran from developing its nuclear bomb. This can be done,

since Iran threatens the interests of all rational states in the

Middle East. We should therefore do all we can to prevent Iran

from ever reaching a nuclear capability. Israel cannot possibly

put up withe the nuclear bomb in Iranian hands. If the Western

states don't do what is their duty, Israel will find itself

forced to act alone and will accomplish its task by any means

considered suitable for the purpose". In view of the earlier

admission of the Israeli experts (summarized in report 117), that

Israel cannot possibly halt Iranian nuclearization nor overthrow

the Iranian regime by relying on merely conventional weaponry, I

can only interpret Sneh's pronouncement as a hardly disguised

threat to strike Iran with nuclear weapons.


MK Sneh also examined the possibility that Iran may become

nuclearized unbeknownest to the Israeli Intelligence (whose past

failure to assess correctly developments in Iraq is public

knowledge). "If, despite all our precautions, we find ourselves

confronted by Iran already in possession of nuclear installations

and in mastery of launching techniques, we would be better off if

the explosive charge of the Israeli-Arab conflict is by then

already neutralized through signing the peace treaties with

states located in our vicinity, concretely with Syria, Jordan and

the Palestinians. We would also be better off if before that time

we succeed in building alliances with Middle Eastern states

interested in fighting Islamic fundamentalism. It would be good

for us if all sane states of this region unite to resist all

forces of radicalism. The nuclearization issue, however, can in

no way affect our negotiating position, whether by adding new

demands or invalidating of our old ones. There is one exception,

though, concerning Syria's links with Iran. During the coming

stages of the negotiations those links must be questioned so as

to force Syria to declare to which of the two camps it belongs".


Before proceeding to report the opinions of other discussants

at the symposium, let me briefly elucidate the political

background which MK Sneh assumed rather implicitly but which

other Israeli experts have clarified explicitly. Moshe Zak, who

apparently is now as close to Rabin as in the past he was to

Shamir, said (Ha'olam Haze, May 25) that "Iran scares the U.S. no

less than it scares Israel". He also said that Iran's oil

revenues enable it purchase not only "whatever it needs to keep

its ruined economy going but also sophisticated weaponry and

anything needed for nuclearization". Therefore, concludes Zak,

both "the Western states" and "the concerned states in the Middle

East" have a duty to do everything in their power to see to it

that "Iran has no financial resources left".


Even more explicit in this respect is Haaretz's Intelligence

correspondent, Yossi Melman (May 13). He quotes at some length

the Egyptian press about "the crystallization of a current

Israeli-Egyptian plan to overthrow the Iranian regime with U.S.

support". Next, he quotes "the director of the Israeli radio

broadcasts in Farsi [to Iran], Menashe Amir". Amir believes that

"there is some truth in such reports", but that a forcible

overthrow of the Iranian regime would be rather difficult,

"enough to make the American plan pretty unfeasible even if the

U.S. is supported in this scheme by several states in the Middle

East which, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which have their reasons

to feel threatened by Tehran. Nevertheless, the chance of seeking

this regime overthrown in the foreseeable future by forces from

within, although not particularly high, does exist. Iran is ripe

for it". According to Amir, the surest way to propel such a

development is by worsening the economic conditions of the

Iranian masses which already suffer much distress. "Apparently

the Americans still don't have well-crystallized plans" sums up

Amir. But the already relatively shaky Iranian regime could get

destabilized if the U.S. plans would include sanctions, or at

least some methods of making it hard for Iran to export oil which

accounts for 90% of the Iranian economy; especially if those

steps are propped by a U.S. success in persuading the states like

Turkey or Pakistan to let their territories be used for military

operations against their neighbor especially if all this is done

in concert with domestic opposition in Iran".


In an earlier article of his, (Haaretz, March 12), Melman also

mentioned the Israeli-Turkish cooperation "against Iranian

subversion" in countries to the north of Iran, such as Kazakhstan

or Uzbekistan. "The West Europeans contribute to the U.S. efforts

to help finance the implementation of Turkish aims in Central

Asia. According to senior Israeli officials, Israel has been

helping Turkey promote those aims in its own ways...

Policy-makers in Israel believe that the U.S., Israel and Turkey

have a common interest in establishing a stable regional

alignment of secular, moderate and pro-Western regimes in the

Middle East. As a recently issued document puts it, `Israel has

an interest in strengthening Turkey for the sake of the common

goal of curbing Islamic fundamentalism'". In the same context,

Pazit Rabina (Davar, Friday Supplement, May 28) describes

Israel's relations with Azerbaijan as already good, and its

influence there as remarkable.


MK Sneh's threats that Israel might act unilaterally,

presumably by nuclear means, unless the Iranian regime is in the

meantime overthrown by somebody else's economic pressures and/or

armed infiltrations, are all too obviously intended to goad the

U.S. and the Middle Eastern states to join hurriedly an

Israeli-dominated alliance. Certainly, I am far from implying

that the predictions of the Israeli experts need to materialize.


For example, Pinhas Inbari (Al Hamishmar, May 28) reports that

Mubarak's recent attempt to convinve Saudi Arabia and the Gulf

states to join an anti-Iranian coalition ended in a deplorable

failure as the states concerned decided instead to mend their

fences with Iran. But I maintain that, in the event its alliance

formation endeavors fail, in part or entirely, Israel would

indeed be ready to undertake unilateral - probably nuclear -

measures against Iran, conforming to MK Sneh's expectations.


Let me now say something about other discussants at the

symposium. The former commander of Israeli Airforce, general

(reserves) Avihu Ben-Nun, opined that even if an Israeli-Iranian

war breaks out when Iran is already nuclearized, "Israel should

not fear an Iranian nuclear strike because of Iran's own fears of

an Israeli retaliatory second strike which in the Arab world's

assessment is perfectly feasible. Moreover, Iran will then fear a

nuclear retaliation on the part of the U.S. which the latter as

the great nuclear power shouldn't hesitate to undertake". But

Iran will also have another reason for refraining to use its

atomic bomb against Israel: namely "the fear of destroying the

Islamic Holy Sites in Jerusalem. 'The Holy Sites are our best

deterrent', announced Ben-Nun". The last statement, considered

too crass even for an Israeli general too utter, was subsequently

ridiculed by some commentators.


The views of professor Yuval Ne'eman, the former leader of the

already defunct right-wing extremist party Ha'Tehiya, which were

extensively covered by Hotam, can for the most part be safely

ignored. He dissected various "worst-case" scenarios and

conspiracy theories, e.g. what would happen if Pakistan supplies

a nuclear bomb to an Arab state with common borders with Israel,

or if Iran buys or steals hundreds of nuclear bombs from the USSR

successor states. The fact that such a person was invited to

attend the symposium is by itself evidence of the Israeli

experts' mood.


But two discussants did have things of substance to say. They

were: Dr. Shay Feldman from the Center for Strategic Studies, who

is widely recognized as an expert of repute in nuclear strategy,

and professor Yehoshafat Harkabi, who in the recent decade has

turned quite dovish in his views. Dr. Feldman provided the

Israeli assessments of the nuclear status of each Middle Eastern

state, and he made an interesting observation about Iran. "Except

for the Khumeinist revolution, Iran would have already been at a

very advanced stage of nuclearization". All too obviously,

Feldman referred to Israeli covert assisstance in the Shah

regime's nuclearization program which had then defied the U.S.

avowed opposition to all nuclear proliferation. "Iran now tries

to reactivate two nuclear reactors built still under the Shah".

However, Feldman doubts whether the Iranians would use nuclear

weapons against Israel even if they will have them, "because

otherwise they could risk a total devastation of Iran as a result

of an Israeli retaliation", presumably a nuclear one. He assumes

that "the Iranian leaders will not behave irrationally enough" to

drop their nuclear bombs on Israel. Reviewing the nuclear status

of other countries, Feldman supposes that Pakistan already has

nuclear weapons, but that Egypt and Libya have renounced their

nuclear ambitions. But because of their potential, they can still

be regarded as "posing a mild threat" to Israel, whereas Syria's

threat can be regarded as "even milder". Iraqi nuclear

capabilities have been destroyed, whereas Jordan and Saudi Arabia

have zero nuclear potential. The only other country apart of Iran

which Feldman sees as posing a serious nuclear threat to Israel

is Algeria. But he says nothing about how should Israel cope with

this threat.


As is customary with him during the last two years, Professor

Harkabi places all his unconditional trust in the U.S. as capable

of solving all Middle Eastern problems. He labels those who

disagree with him on this score as "provincial". He recalls the

Security Council Resolution 255 of 1968 which authorizes the

superpowers to use any means they would deem suitable "whenever a

small state threatens to use or actually uses nuclear weapons

against another state. But even if that resolution didn't exist,

the U.S. would be certain to intervene on such occasions so as to

let no small state reap profits from possession of nuclear

capabilities and thereby encourage other small states to follow

in its footsteps". Alone among the discussants at the symposium,

Harkabi recognizes "how difficult it would be for Israel to

renounce its strategic assets, especially its nuclear monopoly,

in the framework of true peace". Yet he expects the U.S. to force

Israel to do precisely that. He recommends that as a quid pro quo

Israel demand that this "renunciation of strategic assets" would

take place "no sooner than after long years when the peace

process turns out to be well-grounded enough to evolve into aof

mutual dependence of the states concerned". Inspection

of nuclear installations in all states concerned should in his

view "be reciprocal, but not international". The relations

between Iran and Israel should be "similar to those between Chile

and Argentina" which made an agreement about such inspections.

With all my respect for Harkabi's invulnerability to the madness

of "the next war" debate, his expectation that the Clinton

Administration may ever dictate such terms to Israel strikes me

as fanciful in the extreme.


The changes in the Israeli army need to be understood in the

context of the above described nuclear doctrine and the attempts

to form an alliance. My main sources for describing those changes

are the articles by professor Shlomo Aharonson (Ha'olam Haze,

April 21), whose opinions have already been quoted at length in

report 117, and by Aluf Ben (Haaretz, April 25). Both authors can

be considered highly knowledgeable. Their perspectives are

different: Aharonson's primarily political and historical whereas

Ben's more oriented towards strictly military matters and their

economic implications. Their conclusions are nevertheless



According to Aharonson the old and "deeply entrenched Israeli

army's" strategic doctrine dating from the early 1950s was

invented by Yigal Allon, the most distinguished commander in the

1947-1949 war. Allon was affiliated with the most politically

hawkish party within the Labor movement, Le'ahdut Ha'avoda, which

in 1969 merged with two other parties to form the current Labor

party. The doctrine was followed, as Ben informs us, before 1987,

when it was overhauled, after "recommendations of a committee

chaired by the then Justice minister, [Dan] Meridor [Likud]". The

readaptation of the army to the new doctrine was slowed down by

the Intifada and advanced with renewed energy only after the

termination of the Gulf War. Aharonson describes, in my view

correctly, the old doctrine was based on racist notions. "Allon

conceived of the Arabs as irrational, barbarous and cutthroat

characters,in contrast to us who are shaped by `humanistic

traditions'. The conclusion was that Israel should always be the

first to attack, in order to conquer territories and then to

offer to cede some of them as a bargaining chip to attain peace.

But the whole thing was bound to recur again and again". As

Allon recognized, to carry out an attack intended to be crowned

with a smashing victory necessitated either a prior general

mobilization which would include the reserves, as eventually

happened in 1956 and 1967, or at least protracted preparations of

some forces for an attack, as it was done in 1982. In either case

the attack, called "preemptive first strike", rests on the

assumption that any Arab threat to Israel involves risks to its

very survival. (Ben's account of that doctrine is similar, even

if gentler in vocabulary.)

The doctrine aimed at winning a smashing victory in shortest

possible time. In case mobilization is postponed until after a

war begins, or if a war turns out to be a lengthier affair than

planned, the penalty as anticipated by the doctrine would be

relatively high Israeli casualties, which Israeli society would

have to bear without losing its morale. According to Ben, the

Allon doctrine was reviewed and ultimately rejected due to two

factors. In the first place, at a late stage of the Lebanese war,

relatively high casualties indeed occurred, but the resultant

discontent of ordinary Israelis taught the Israeli policy-makers

that in the next war casualties must be reduced to a minimum. The

second factor was economic. The Allon doctrine envisaged that the

army would grow continuously. And grow it did, but with the

effect of plunging Israel into an economic crisis which even the

U.S. military aid couldn't redeem. "The collapse of Israel's

economy necessitated cuts in Defense budgets, with the effect of

halting the army's perpetual growth and even forcing it to

disband some units". Aharonson adds a third factor for rejecting

the Allon doctrine, namely "the growth of Iran's power".


According to Aharonson, the fundamental notion on which the new

doctrine rests is the classification of Israel's enemies into the

close by and the faraway. The faraway enemies are "Iran, Iraq,

Libya and Algeria", among which Iran is considered the most

threatening, not just because of its "nuclear development", but

also "because throngs of Israeli Jews will get pretty hysterical

the day Iran gets its nuclear bomb. They will perceive it as a

sufficient threat to their survival to justify their refusal to

remain in the Zionist state since when it would live under that

bomb's shadow". This is the context to for the quoted

apprehensions of the Chief of Staff that the Jews may fail to be

tough enough. Such apprehensions have their long history.

Aharonson is right in attributing them to Ben-Gurion during his

entire lifetime. In my view, they continue to influence Israeli

strategical thinking deeply. They have their origin in the old

Zionist doctrine that diaspora Jews "live unnatural lives", due

to which they are all "neurotic". Only in an "organic" Jewish

society established by Zionism, they can become "normal". The

cruder versions of this belief bore striking resemblance to

anti-Semitism in their claim that diaspora Jews were a "human

dust" which only Zionism could turn into "real human beings". No

wonder that whenever Israeli political leaders, and especially

generals, find themselves constrained by public opinion, they

wonder whether the envisioned change in "the nature of the

diaspora Jews" has indeed materialized. Their insistence that

Israelis should be tougher than they are is their way of coping

with this cognitive dilemma.


Aharonson recognizes that "Israel cannot mobilize its entire

army in order to dispatch it to fight a ground war in Iran, in

line with Allon's doctrine of a preemptive first strike.

Likewises, the [Israeli] Airforce is not capable of devastating

Tehran significantly by means of merely conventional air raids.

After all, this several millions-big city withstood Iraqi air

raids during the eight-years long war, without any anti-air

defenses to speak of. To remember is also the fact that Israel

found no real answer to grievous blows dealt by the Iraqi Scuds

during the Gulf War". Therefore, informs Aharonson, "against its

faraway enemies Israel will have to rely not so much on the

conventional components of the Israeli army, as on other

components of its national security: namely on nuclear

deterrence, long-range missiles and improved cooperation with the

U.S. and some neighboring states, like Egypt or Turkey". I would

doubt if Turkey, which does cooperate with Israel, would be

enchanted to see Israeli long-range missiles with nuclear

warheads launched against Iran.


According to Aharonson, the crucial role in formulating those

strategies was played by the present Chief of Staff, Ehud Barak

already around 1985. That's curious, because at that time nobody

yet expected Iran to get nuclearized. This is why Israeli

perseverance in trying to weaken the relatively strong states in

the Middle East in order to assume a hegemonic position in the

region may well be a more essential aspect of the new doctrine

than the whole issue of Iranian nuclearization. Aharonson adds

some clarification to MK Sneh's thesis that the whole "peace

process" is no more than a tool in the Israeli grand strategy of

warmaking. "Barak's thinking is that of a statesman, not just of

a soldier. The present author can testify that he was already

thinking in this way when he served as the Military Intelligence

commander in the final stages of the Lebanon War [1984-85]. Due

to that, the Chief of Staff can find a common language with the

government doves. After all, his doctrine rests on two

assumptions no less dear to them than to him: close cooperation

with the Americans and advancement of the peace process".


Aharonson is certain that the Israeli "option to threaten its

faraway enemies" by nuclear means has the backing of the

Americans. In this he may be right, if by "the Americans" he

means the Pentagon, the C.I.A and their firmest supporters. He

himself admits that "a strident anti-nuclear lobby exists in the

U.S." but not in Israel. (Even in Meretz nobody has uttered a

squeak about dangers of radiation and nuclear waste to Israeli

population.) Aharonson also argues that in developing their

nuclear weapons, "Iran, Algeria and Libya" are motivated only by

"their anti-western ideology, which makes it reasonable to expect

that those weapons may be used also against the U.S. and other

Western states. The existence of a pro-western power with its own

nuclear capacity is going to considerably neutralize the Iranian

or any other threat to the West... In view of that, Israel is in

the position to convince the U.S. that the task of deterring our

faraway enemies which are also the enemies of the U.S., by our

own nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, should be reserved

for ourselves". On their part, the Americans can help Israel by

blockading Iranian coasts and by "stationing their warships and

especially their nuclear submarines threateningly close to Iran".


Ben is not preoccupied with how to fight the far away enemies,

because his problem are the close by ones. "Peace negotiations

have somewhat weakened down the image of Syria as a treat which

in the 1980s was in Israel cultivated assiduously. Instead, the

Israeli `Hasbara' has put Iran in Syria's place as the threat

number one to Israel. In his capacity as Prime Minister, Rabin

has concentrated on Iran in his discussions with the President of

the U.S. and the President of Egypt. But in his capacity as

Defense minister Rabin is still preparing the Israeli army to

fight its traditional enemies, still regarded as positing the

greatest danger, i.e. the combined Arab forces of the eastern

front, centered around a massive Syrian offensive on the Golan

Heights, and supported by reinforcements from Iraq". It is hard

to believe that even Israeli generals could expect Syria to

launch a "massive" offensive in the absence of Soviet support,

and without enough spare parts for its Soviet-made weaponry.

Furthermore, it is downright unbelievable that, even in the event

of Iraqi-Syrian reconciliation, the Iraqi "reinforcements" could

cross the desert without being decimated by the Israeli Airforce.

In view of this, the only possible interpretation of Ben's words

about Rabin "in his capacity as Defense minister... preparing the

Israeli army", is that he actually prepares it for an attack on

Syria (and possibly Jordan) in case, to use MK Sneh's vocabulary,

Syria refuses to provide promptly enough a "correct" answer to

the question "to which of the two camps it belongs". My

interpretation can be supported by some still unpublishable

evidence. But even in its absence, overt evidence to be reported

henceforth strongly indicates that the commentators routinely

misrepresent a possible Israeli attack on Syria as purely

defensive in character. This doctrine does not apply to the

commentary on Iran, though.


According to Ben, "The Meridor committee" recommended in 1987

that "the ground forces [of the Israeli army] will in the future

be equipped with highly accurate and long-distance weaponry, so

as to enable the army to hit remote targets, destroy the enemy

armor and artillery while still far from its frontline

destinations, and even strike at enemy command posts located

behind the front lines. In this way the Israeli army should be in

the position to considerably reduce the casualties normally

entailed by traditional warfare's offensive, defensive or mopping

up operations on the battlefield. Accurate weaponry should also

free the [Israeli] Airforce from its [present] task of providing

tactical support for the ground forces, and let it concentrate

instead on its main tasks, which are to clear the skies from

enemy airplanes and anti-aircraft missiles and to pursue long

distance raiding of the enemy's territory in depth". Ben informs

that this doctrine came to be labelled as that of "button

warfare", on the assumption that the enemy ground forces can be

destroyed by Israeli technicians pushing buttons in some safe



The "button warfare" doctrine has nevertheless been subjected

to plenty of criticism, which began to surface in the Hebrew

press in June 1992, and which is echoed by both Ben and

Aharonson. Ben says that "the opponents of the Meridor

committee's doctrine were skeptical about that committee's

`uncritical reliance on accurate weaponry'... They kept warning

that the dependence on what they dubbed technological toys and

the faith in `secret weapons' entailed dangers of their own, by

virtue of neglecting the traditional factors of the Israeli

army's strength". In the end, their warnings were acceded to,

apparently because after years of trial and error it turned out

that the promises of manufacturing the "clever" weaponry, which

had impressed the Meridor Committee so deeply, couldn't be

fulfilled. What ensued was a compromise recognizing the need to

rely heavily on masses of armor and artillery, facing a close by

enemy along the fortified lines and fighting real battles,

exactly as the old doctrine has assumed. Ben quotes "a senior

army officer" who "several months ago" described [but not in the

press] the present expectations. "This officer estimated that

during the coming years the battlefields will continue to look as

they have looked, with minor changes portending the future

application of the doctrine relying on accurate weaponry capable

of long-distance operations". The "senior officer" attributed

this state of affairs to the lack of money, but he hoped that the

funds will yet become available. It seems that the next Israeli

ground war can be expected to be fought no differently in essence

than the previous Israeli wars have been.


Aharonson tells roughly the same story as Ben. But he adds a

comment which is worth quoting at length. "The subject of `clever

weaponry' is not simple, as is known from discussions about it in

the U.S. The best known American critic of such weaponry, the

inventor of the neutron bomb Sam Cohen, used to describe the

reliance on it as the `Goering strategy'. In a conversation with

the present author, Cohen clarified that he had been referring to

the bombing of London toward the end of the World War II by

German long-range missiles whose cost was incommensurable with

the rather marginal damage they wrought. The cost of those

weapons compared to the extent of damage they can cause is

therefore the question. It is especially so, since as Cohen

explains, such weapons can be easily made to stray from their

trajectories by means of properly devised dummy targets.

"We learn from partly censored publications which sporadically

appear that there is a way to counter such dummy targets too.

Sure there is. To every new military technology there soon

appears an answer, invariably more and more costly. But the

Iranians and the Arabs have much more money than Israel. Perhaps

Israel should avail itself of the technology advanced by Cohen,

namely of the [nuclear] radiation-bombs which don't produce

inordinately high temperatures and don't leave durable

radioactive waste, but which are capable of killing enemy

soldiers in their tanks in a small targeted area. Our use of such

weapons will demonstrate to anyone concerned the firmness of our

resolve to defend ourselves with no matter what weapons we

possess, without running short of them all in the process".

Aharonson's "radiation-bombs" seem to be a variety of neutron

bombs. The fuzzy ending of Aharonson's last sentence can in my

opinion be interpreted to mean that by using "radiation bombs"

Israel would signal a warning that its nuclear bombs, of much

higher destructiveness spread over a much larger territory, may

eventually be used as well. Still, Aharonson anticipates an

obstacle to his program of using Sam Cohen's "radiation bombs".

"The Americans will never agree to it". He therefore leaves his

recommendation as if suspended in the air, apparently in hope

that appropriate authorities will nevertheless consider it



General Shalom Haggai, the Head of Quartermastership Department

in the General Staff, casts an interesting light on the relations

between the Israeli army's and the U.S. in his interview with Ben

(ibid.) "Usually we get from the Americans whatever we ask for",

within the framework of the U.S. military aid. Israeli requests

for "highly sophisticated weaponry need to be approved by higher

U.S. authorities [than usual]", but they do invariably approve

them. But if the U.S. is so eager to supply Israel with every

requested weapon, what purpose is served by Israel's own weapon

industries, wspecially when they find themselves in financial

straits as they now do? "Essentailly, the reason of the Israeli

army's insistence on having its own weapons industries has to do

with the preparations for the next war. Then, the entire civilian

economy is expected to contract and the military economy to

expand mightily, snce it will need to produce much higher

quantities of output than in peacetime. Without an industry of

its own, the Israeli army cannot guarantee to provide logistical

support to all its tanks and all its sophisticated electronic

systems in use. The alternative is to keep enormous stockpiles,

which would cost billions. This is why the Israeli army must rely

on ongoing production of the materials. But the existing

production cannot be halted and then resumed instantly upon the

outbreak of the next war". It can be conjectured here that "the

next war" envisioned by the Israeli army will be a large scale

one, much more so than the Lebanese war, when civilian economy

continued to function almost as in peacetime. In other words, it

is likely to be a total war, with all reservists or at least most

of them mobilized, and the Israeli civilian economy paralyzed



The assumption that "the next war" will be fought mainly by

reservists can also be indirectly supported by observations of

Nahum Barnea ("Yediot Ahronot", May 28) and Amnon Abramovitz

("Maariv", May 28). Both speak of the enormous growth of Israeli

standing army in the last decade, whose size Barnea's sources

estimate as "bigger by a third compared to the time when Rafael

Eitan was the Chief of Staff", i. e. before 1983. According to

other estimates this growth has been even larger, not only of the

standing army, but also of the reserves. But the armies of Syria

and Jordan have not grown much in size in the same period of

time, which means that Israel can hardly be presumed to fear an

attack on the part of its close by enemies; which in turn means

that "the next war" can only be offensive in character. But

Barnea and Abramovitz also say that although the standing army

has very much grown as a whole, its combat infantry component has

not. At this moment large combat infantry forces are deployed

either in the Territories, or in fighting Hizbollah in South

Lebanon, with the effect of being tremendously overloaded with

assignments from which they can hardly ever be relieved. This

contrasts sharply with the situation during the first months of

the Intifada in 1988. The quantity of troops then deployed in the

Territories was no less vast than is now, except that the burden

was then shared by armor, and even the Airforce, whereas now to

all appearances it no longer is. If the Israeli army manpower

grows disproportionately in branches other than combat infantry,

presumably in the Airforce, armor and artillery, it would

indicate that preparations for winning the next war rapidly are

now assigned a priority higher to what in Israel goes under the

name of "current security", which in plain language means the

retention of the already conquered territories.


It is clear by now that the plans of the former Chief of Staff,

Dan Shomron, who retired in March 1991, to significantly reduce

the size of the army have been shelved. However, in view of the

structural changes, the army is interested to get rid

of the mass of conscripts hailing from the so-called "lowest

strata" of Israeli Jewish society, i.e. the poorest and least

educated, either by not drafting them at all, or by discharging

them from the service as soon as they are found unfit. This

policy, however, has been met with lots of indignation. There

have been many cases of conscripts turned down by draft boards,

who subsequently kept soliciting support of MKs or of the press,

or even threatening suicide, to press their demand to get

inducted. Most politicians and all the media (which devote

enormous amount of space to this issue) do support such

individuals, on the presumption that the army is supposed to

perform an educational role in regard to all Israeli Jewish

youths. However, the army has resorted to various subterfuges to

proceed with selective induction practices while ignoring the

"educational" expectations of the public. Aharon Klein

("Hadashot", May 10) reports, not without some surprise, that "in

1991, about 20% of the Israeli Jews who should have been drafted

were not drafted, whereas 10.5% more were discharged during their

first year of service". From those figures Klein infers that "the

Israeli army is no longer a people's army". But, "since in

Israeli Jewish society those turned down at the draft or

discharged before termination of their service carry a stigma",

or are even penalized by the state, the army decided "to relieve

the penalties". From now on "those who succeed in persevering in

the service for a year and half", instead of three years, "will

receive a certificate of completion of their service entitling

them to all the rights and benefits of demobilized soldiers, like

unemployment allowances, easy term mortgages and income tax

reductions". Interesting is also Klein's information about Jewish

emigration from the former USSR. It turns out that it has had its

military rationale. The Israeli army is very satisfied with "this

kind of manpower", which makes it "look forward to at least

100,000 immigrant Jews each year". It may be that this was one of

the reasons for granting the $10 billion guarantees.


While interested in getting rid of the poorest and least

educated conscripts, the Israeli army now wants to become "more

professionalized" which in practice means an increased reliance

on conscripts from upper classes. Klein reports how the best

educated youngsters are now being encouraged to volunteer for

"preparatory courses" prior to their induction. Attendance of

such courses may last no less than half a year, and it is not

counted as service time. Those who do enroll in them, however,

are rewarded by the privilege of serving in units for which they

were trained. In addition, and regardless of whether they

attended the preparatory courses, the upper social crust youth

are now subjected to all conceivable pressures to consent to

serve at least one year longer after the termination of the three

years of their compulsory service. In my estimate many among the

better educated Israeli Jewish youths are now in effect serving

in the army up to five years, without counting the service in the

reserves. This is but one of the aspects of the ever increasing

militarization of Israeli society.


The Israeli "Hasbara", and especially its spokesmen from the

Zionist "left" never tire assuring the gullible Westerners about

the "humane" and "dovish" qualities of the Israeli army and its

generals. Unfortunately, the contents of this report prove the

opposite, even without speaking of all the horrors of the

occupation which show this army and its generals in their most

hawkish and inhuman light. But let me conclude this report by

quoting some factual tidbits of Amir Oren who in my view is the

most penetrating Hebrew press correspondent in matters concerning

the Israeli army and its strategies. Oren claims ("Davar", May

14), in my view correctly, that "during the first Rabin's

government [1974-77] the Gush Emunim had stooges within the

establishment". He names them, in my view correctly, as not only

the then Defense minister Peres, and the then Chief of Staff and

now Deputy Defense minister Motta Gur, but also the then

commander of the Central Command and the Coordinator of the

Activities in the Territories as "in practice favorably inclined

toward the religious settlers". Oren lets it be understood that

this "practice" consisted of stretching their orders for the

purpose, and that such order stretching practices continue till

this very day. He then asks: "What is the army? The Chief of

Staff? The generals? The power of a Chief of Staff can find

diverse manifestations. When Rafael Eitan was the Chief of Staff,

he ruled that the settlers who in the reserves performed skilled

assignments, would be transferred to regional defense units

designed to guard their own settlements. In this way Eitan

created the independent settler militias. Eitan also ordered the

then [1981-82] commander of the Gaza Strip and Northern Sinai,

colonel Yitzhak Segev, to poison all the wells [in Sinai, on

Israeli withdrawal]. With the backing of the then Commander of

[the Southern] Command Dan Shomron, Segev refused [to carry the

order]. A little earlier, the then Commander of the Northern

Command, Yanush Ben-Gal, was asked by the then Agriculture

minister, Ariel Sharon, for allocating some army funds for

`Judaization of the Galilee'". Some of Oren's information now

appears for the first time. No wonder an army with such

characteristics is capable of making plans described in this



Oren also makes some hints ("Davar", May 14) about what may

well stand behind the planning for "the next war". By blaming

Netanyahu for wanting to "make Israel's readiness for peace

conditional on the democratization of Arab states, and what was

even worse, for publicizing this idea on a C.N.N TV program",

Oren lets a cat out of the bag. "Any Arab democracy would be

militarily more threatening to Israel. Any Arab army about to

rely on western military strategies and to change its

infrastructure so as to suit American, British or French

weaponry, will perforce have to do away with rigid forms of

subordination to an omniscient high command advised by Soviet

instructors. In terms of the conditions on the ground it means

that any medium-rank officer finds himself helpless as soon as he

ceases to obtain instructions from rear commands which oversee

him continuously. An army of a democratic Arab state, if it also

has good airforce, may be in a position to aspire to a

qualitative parity with the Israeli army". In my view Oren is

quite correct in attributing almost all defeats of Arab armies

(including Iraqi defeat in Kuwait) to their rigidity in relying

on outdated and petrified Soviet military doctrines. But the

absence of democracy and especially of the freedom of speech in

the Arab countries (as well as among the Palestinians) contribute

to their military weakness also in more fundamental ways. Let me

just mention the fact that military affairs are hardly ever

discussed there, in a way they are discussed, for example, in

this report. Consequently, the Arab strategies and tactics are

never, or hardly ever, revised. The Arab elites, let alone the

masses, remain abysmally ignorant of military affairs, while

never ceasing to perorate about "the armed struggle". Indeed, it

is precisely the absence of democracy in the Middle East which

encourages the Israeli power elite to plan "the next war". At the

same time, one of the crucial aims of "the next war", certainly

shared by the U.S., would be the prevention of democratization,

or even of installment of more popular regimes in any country of

the Middle East.