Politics Vs. Professionalism: Israel’s Growing Power Struggle

Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7th changed many perspectives on the Israeli state, both domestically and internationally. Hamas’ initial success befuddled the minds of most Zionists who could not wrap their minds around the fact that Israel had been so easily, so efficiently, caught off guard. How the mighty have fallen! The ever-dominant IDF outmaneuvered by amateur terrorists, paralyzed and unable to protect its own citizens!

While the world watched in horror, Israelis began to ask questions. How could such a catastrophe come to pass at the supposed height of Israeli regional hegemony? Many began to speak about the “conception,” an Israeli euphemism for major screw-up at the highest ranks of government. The idea of appeasing the corrupt leadership of Hamas, which had maintained relative stability for the last twenty years, was seen as naïve, lazy and unrealistic. Many experienced “epiphanies” when they came to recognize Israel’s stupidity in having catered to the diplomatic demands of such heinous criminals. Public discourse took a turn for fascism, with many public figures calling for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, as documented in S. Africa’s case to the International Court of Justice, and there has been an marked increase in hostile sentiment to any potential accord with Palestinian partners.

However, the Israeli “deep state” began to develop an alternative theory. Instead of latching on to a mere idea, many in the Israeli “deep state” began to recognize the systemic issues that plague the state and have set their sights on a more tangible target. In the eyes of many functionaries and professionals working for the state, the inherent, general incompetence of the political establishment, not the specific strategic blunders, were to blame for the debacle of October 7th. Changing course ideologically or strategically, would only put a superficial bandage on a much deeper wound that has, over time, turned rotten.

The Israeli political establishment has failed to serve the interests of the state. It has become overwhelmed by both domestic and foreign pressures, and cannot, in any conceivable manner, complete its task to the satisfaction of the professional interests of the state. Over the years, the politicians have relinquished their responsibilities to countless shady, poorly regulated deep state entities including the National Security Council, the Mosad and Shinbet, and many semi-private enterprises that cooperate with government agencies, effectively castrating the government and diverting state authority to alternate, non-democratic actors. As a result, the Israeli government including the Prime Minister, lack the clout to run the country, and Israel’s enemy Hamas seized the opportunity to strike and weaken the remaining morale.

Last year, Israel experienced much upheaval on its domestic front. Widespread corruption funneled substantial foreign funding into competing campaigns that divided the country. The ill-fated Judicial Reform bill laid a template for the failing political establishment, allowing politicians to “earn their keep” while engaging in clear self-harm. With the onset of the current war, however, the human price of such political machinations, this “game,” has become clearer, and many Israelis, especially those directly affected by the chaos, have disengaged completely from this abstract political sphere, seeing the masquerade for what it is. Israeli nationalist morale, while higher than what it was during the internal conflict, centers around security interests and has failed to boost the attention received by any but the most minor and inexperienced of political figures, such as Ben Gvir and Ofer Casif, and only for shallow, entertainment purposes. Barely half of the eligible population voted in the recent local elections, further demonstrating Israelis’ skepticism of any positive change through democratic means. Even top brass have begun to voice their concerns. Yesterday, Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus spoke out against the political establishment’s excesses and warned the politicians that they must be worthy of his soldiers if they are to expect their loyalty. This echoes a deep mistrust of Israel’s political leadership held by many Israelis, including many, if not the majority, of professionals in positions of power throughout the state apparatus.

Hamas’ attack on Israel did not succeed militarily. Gaza has suffered tenfold for the brief incursion. However, the diplomatic and psychological trauma inflicted on Israel, at home and abroad, cannot be dismissed and surely factored into Hamas’ strategic goals upon embarking on its sneak attack. Israel’s international standing has suffered much, either as a result of its internal weaknesses coming to light in the astounding tactical disaster of October 7th, or on account of its poorly planned, puerile and vindictive response that has displaced millions and resulted in over 100,000 casualties (both injured and killed). Domestically, the trauma of October 7th has set into motion a gradual awakening to the threat that the political establishment poses to the mere viability of the state, and has intensified the rift between the professional, anonymous functionaries of the state, and the political elite, who have been sheltered until now by the relative stability afforded by American hegemony in the region. With changing times and the rise of China, the infantile behavior of the majority of politicians in this country, which for many years was regarded as irrelevant, benign entertainment, has drawn the attention of not only our many enemies, who now see our weakness on full display, but also of our friends and allies, who have, without precedent, begun to question their unconditional support.

In order to resolve the situation, responsible Israeli actors must coordinate both internal and external diplomatic and security pressures in order to salvage what is left of our leadership. The extent of such an overhaul is uncertain. Will Israel continue to exist as a “democracy,” or will the need for a strong, responsible leadership be met only through direct military intervention? Will the Israeli public wake up to the existential threats that surround them, or will they need to be protected from the world by their professional elite? While I can’t purport to foresee the end result of this conflict between politicians and professionals, I can only say for certain that, if left unchecked, our politicians will continue to endanger our lives and will surely bring death and destruction upon us all and on the entire region.

In order to avoid the threat of another Holocaust, we must act now. We must stand up for truth and sanity, fight the political pressures of this dystopian society, and remind the world that the Jews will always fight anti-Semitism, even when its self-imposed.

About the Author
Originally from Westchester, NY, Aryeh made Aliyah 7 years ago.
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