Herzl “Herzi” Halevi, the current deputy chief of staff, will soon become the 23rd chief of staff of Israel. Congratulations. The Israeli army faces countless challenges, from terrorism through conventional warfare, to nuclear weapons. On top of it, it is a melting pot of the Israeli society, where all the factions live together, work together, fight together, and die together. It is clear, then, that the task of Israel’s top commander is not an easy one.
What makes this task even more daunting is the fact that there is really no way to carry it out successfully. The army cannot stop terrorism, cannot thwart the nuclear threat, and cannot win a conventional war because there is none, and if there were, it would mean that the army’s deterrence has deteriorated to the point where a war could break out, so once again, it is a failure.
In order to end the Sisyphean struggle on multiple fronts, it is time for the army to consider a new focus for its efforts. Since the IDF is already a melting pot where all factions of society work together, even if against their will, it makes the army willy-nilly the ideal arena for enhancing social cohesion and solidarity.
It is not as if the army does not know this. Every army base is peppered with slogans that praise unity and mutual dependence. However, signs and slogans do not anchor unity in people’s hearts; mutual efforts for a common goal does that, alongside a constant educational effort to explain the paramount importance of these values.
Our biggest problem has always been division. Even the mighty Roman army could not defeat Jerusalem were it not for the infighting among the factions within the city in the final days of the First Temple.
Nothing has changed since then. When we are united, we are invincible. Israel’s solidarity is so potent that it not only vanquishes any enemy, it turns foes into friends and makes Israel welcome among the nations, the opposite of our current status in the international arena.
Enhancing solidarity should therefore not be a byproduct of the army being a social “eggbeater”; it should be a key component in our defense strategy.
Israel will not defeat its enemies until it defeats its internal enmities. Once it achieves this, it will discover that it has no enemies, and that its only nemesis has always been division.