Hasbara At Its Worst

A few days ago a friend pointed out a new image video that the IDF posted on Youtube; one whose message was meant to precede the seemingly impending next round of Palestinian violence.  While the video seems to accomplish hasbara purposes, mainly that the IDF is a moral and restrained army – or that it is moral because it is restrained-  one who looks only slightly beyond the surface sees how perverted IDF strategy and ultimately immoral it is.

The video has Brig. General Hagai Mordechai, Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, explaining that in the wake of Operation Pillar Defense it is expected that violence might spread to Judea and Samaria.  Thus, the IDF has:

“prepared a series of advanced training sessions…Our emphasis is to operate precisely, selectively, professionally with significant restraint with an understanding that that’s the right thing both ethically and in line with the values of the IDF and in terms of the stability of the security situation.”

The core problem with this statement is that he knows how the IDF is going to operate before there is even a security problem.  One could assert that in order to stop security threat A, the above steps are necessary.  However, that is not what he says!  He emphasizes that acting with restraint is the strategy.  That is nothing short of ridiculous, especially before the situation has emerged. It is possible that the opposite is true! Maybe, General Mordechai, the situation calls for the IDF to use overwhelming force against the first demonstration, in order to prevent future demonstrations.  And maybe by preventing future demonstrations you will save and IDF soldier’s eye which won’t be damaged by a stone throwing Arab coming from his blindside.  And maybe you will save 50 Arabs from being shot by rubber bullets since they understand after the first protest that their time would be better spent away from violent protests.

The problem is that the IDF strategy has been hijacked into a “what will the news say strategy” and “how might Europe react”.  The minds of IDF generals have been infected with a dose of ivory tower intelligentsia who create theories and ideas detached from reality.  In reality, IDF strategy must be guided by the threats facing Israel today and what needs to be done to protect its citizens and soldiers from them.  Then, and only then, can tactics be decided.  But tactics are meaningless if they are decided before the situation emerges.

What General Mordechai said – while well intentioned – is utterly wrong, immoral and leads to an increased loss of life and injuries.

About the Author
Gideon Israel works at Sohlberg Consulting, which specializes in the infrastructure and transportation industry, and is the CEO of SAFE-T - a company that specializes in school safety. He has previoulsy worked for ambassadors and government ministers in Israel and authored a comprehensive policy paper on reforming US aid to Israel