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Havat Daat 5768 Shevat 25

These Reports, Analysis & Opinions have have been submitted to the Sanhedrin in an advisory capacity only, and may or may not reflect the official position of the Sanhedrin. They are the work of the esteemed experts in their field, and are included here to indicate the kind of questions being handled by the Sanhedrin.

Informal translation from Hebrew of the 25 Shevat, 5768, (1 February 2008) statement:

Legal Adjudication for Soldiers
Advisory Committee
Tel: 02-5661962, cell 050-6733831, fax: 057-7976007
Email: 47 Rachel Imeinu St. Jerusalem 93228

Winograd report (investigation of the Lebanon War II), its conclusions and its implications

Article of Dr. Michael Bronstein in the framework of the Sanhedrin’s Security Commission.

(The members of the Security Commission are: Evyatar bar Tzadaf, Uri Milstein, Dov Stein, and Michael Bronstein)

1. There is no system that doesn’t make errors. It appears that there are only two systems that claim to not make mistakes: The Judicial System and the religious establishment. It should be understand that these claims necessarily destroy them from within.

2. As a model, it is possible to classify the systems in the following way:

A. Systems which fix themselves in a continual way by internal initiative.
B. Systems which receive outside criticism and are “happy” to fix the faults that they reveal.
C. Systems which do that against their will.
D. Systems which obstruct the reform, including denying the criticisms’ conclusions.
E. Systems which prevent criticism with hatred (this type of system is called “totalitarian”)
F. Systems which accept criticism, but don’t do anything with it (such systems are, from a philosophical standpoint, classified as “post-modernist”). Such systems will claim “we are fixing ourselves”, thus it is impossible to disprove this claim at its base, but it should be known that it is likely to be complete falsehood.

3. The IDF, at least starting from the Yom Kippur War “fixes itself”, and thus has deteriroated from war to war. This is the main item of data which will focus it in the systems scale. The governmental system in Israel, which was built on a Ben Gurion-ist basis, was never in level D or lower. Lately, it has enthusiastically adopted the post-modernist and neo-Marxist philosophy, indeed what characterizes a focus on level F.

4. The Greenbaum Commission (1948) was the first to reveal administrative faults of the war (the War of Independence) by the political echelon; Ben-Gurion blocked the findings by way of threat of his own resignation. The Agranat Commission came on the heels of the Yom Kippur War; it revealed some of the faults; it could have served as an impetus to necessary and positive change, but it was blocked by the aggressive action of the IDF elite and the political echelon. The Winograd Commission comes on the heels of the “Second Lebanon War” (when there was no official “First”); one should not expect that it reveal all the truth; that is not its real purpose. Its real purpose is to silence the critical failures, Archimedean points, and thus to open a path to change in the security culture in Israel. Under the umbrella of the word “culture”, all the layers of the nation fall, each in its possible strength.

5. The Commission indeed found a few Archimedean points.

A. Magical abstention from conquering territory.
B. Continuous decline at least since the year 2000.
C. The emptiness of the “Desire for peace” without the backing of force and ability have been proven, in spite of the popular mantra of “limits to strength”. But the Commission did not arrive at the most important point:
D. The public’s ignorance in matters of army and war. “The public” here is referring to the entire nation, and all the groups of its leaders present at the historic moment in question, with the personal participation in combat units, and even in battle, makes no difference. In Israel of 2008, there is no military insight, nor is there interest in military matters, including the senior leadership of the army; in opposition to this, there are claims to understanding on an ideological basis, cultural fashion, or “complete lack of error”, when referring to the two wars mentioned above.

6. The IDF claimed and claims that “we have no other army”, and when it is evident that “dangers of outside exposure have their costs”. This is an invalid claim: Exactly due to the fact that we have no other army, it is in need of external criticism, unless it will also claim that it is a level A system (of above), which is obviously not true, nor was it temporarily true, and it is impossible to rely on this ideal situation for the long term (see the declaration of decline from the year 2008).

7. The IDF and the government claimed and continue to claim together and separately that “we are already fixing things”. The reports from the field and from within contradict this claim, and therefore necessarily place these systems at least between levels E and F from above. A mystery envelope, also called “classified”, does not cover up the main thing uncovered: Key people in the systems were not trained for their positions, and were never interested in the military field to begin with. If we rely on this, that those who do not understand the matter will be able to “fix it”, we will be “relying on a miracle”. It is logical to think that they are also not interested in the base reforms, except if they would prove the opposite by publicly acknowledging the errors they made, and give an in depth analysis to their causes, firstly the cultural causes. It should be recalled that we’re talking about Prime Ministers, Defense Ministers, Chiefs of Staff and their deputies, at least from the year 2000 onward, and almost with certainty it is possible to say at least from 1990.

8. The IDF has claimed and continues to claim that “the Commission puts the responsibility on the military echelon and provides cover for the political echelon”; as support for this, the report of the Agranat Commission is brought from the year 1974. It should be noted: this is a myth which the IDF constructed, and, to our regret, succeeding in entrenching in the public consciousness. It was the defense argument then and they are building a similar defense now. With complete responsibility, the following proclamation should be made: The Agranat Commission indeed covered up for the political echelon, but it also did the same for the military echelon, to the point where a virtual reality was built in certain parts of the report. The difference was that the faults of the IDF were much greater than those of the government, which were also great, such that it was no longer possible to hide them or pass them off for “self repair”. Indeed, as we said, the IDF succeeded in blocking the internal process of change (primarily in the field of training of senior officers), and outward change as well (in entrenching the military consciousness in all levels of the public). In particular, it was in the IDF elite’s interest that the political echelon remain “ignorant”, in order to ease paving the way of senior officers to the political elite. Starting with Yitzchak Rabin, through Yigal Yadin, Rechavim Ze’evi (Gandi), and Ehud Barak, and including Ariel Sharon, the officer-politicians have proven that they do not understand the problems that the IDF has and they are incapable of fixing them.

9. As was mentioned, it is not to be expected that the Commission’s conclusions would reveal all of the problems, but just that it would give the first push on a long and painful, yet necessary, process. It should be accepted that at a first stage that base solutions would not be found, but rather “band-aids”, and even that some problems would remain without any solution. In the long term, a new generation of leadership must be raised, whose key word would be professionalism in its entire meaning, and not its minimalistic meaning. No ideology, be it religious, nationalistic, or humanistic, can replace the professional ability, nor can it determine that ability.

10. Perhaps the Sanhedrin cannot lead the needed process, but it certainly can contribute to it. The situation at present is one akin to a situation where “there are no men”, and the Sanhedrin would be sinning to the G-d of Israel if it did not stand to the requirement of “attempt to be a man”.

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