Israel Resource Review 5th September, 2005


A Proposal for Israel's "National Defense Doctrine" -
Without Judea, Samaria and the Golan

Hagai Huberman
Senior Correspondent, Hatzofeh

Ma'ariv published at the weekend a report about a team which is preparing Israel's new defense doctrine, which will soon be submitted to the prime minister for approval. According to this doctrine, retention of Judea and Samaria and even the Golan Heights no longer has any significant importance for national security.

The words sound very impressive, and when the public reads about a serious team which is defining a national defense doctrine, it probably springs to attention, but on this issue, as in all issues, political outlook has a significant influence on the position which is adopted, whatever the alleged academic or other qualifications of those involved. It is hard to ignore the fact that the team consists entirely of indubitable leftists, headed by former cabinet minister Dan Meridor. Among the others are the outgoing head of the National Security Council, Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, his deputy Itamar Yaari, former MK Yehuda Ben-Meir, the former Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Maj. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Air Force Brig. Gen. Yohanan Luker, former Foreign Ministry Director General Yoav Biran, former IDF chief of manpower, Maj. Gen. Gidon Shefer and others. In this list at least there is not even a token right winger.

In such a situation it is clear that Israel's new national defense doctrine will tend towards the position of the traditional Left, which has long since ceased to view Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip as any kind of asset, and views them instead as nothing but a burden.

Anyone who seeks an excellent example of how political outlook influences professional positions has only to read the words of a member of the committee, quoted in Ma'ariv. "It is clear," he said, "that in the present reality (the threat of Iranian missiles) the territories have no importance for defense, and because of the international community they are likely to become a burden." But the latest war proved that missiles never win battles. They only help the ground forces who capture the territory. The United States has missiles of every description, much better than the Iranian missiles, but when it wanted to bring down Saddam Hussein it had to send ground forces into Iraq.

Is a conventional war, with enemy armor racing towards our borders, no longer possible? Anyone who responds with a categorical yes runs the risk of looking like a fool, because [our sages say that] since the destruction of the second temple, it is only fools who have been endowed with the gift of prophecy.

One final point. There is no need to get excited about the defense doctrine. Even if those who say Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip have no importance for defense are right, these territories are certainly historically important. They are important for the Zionist movement and for settlement, and they have moral and religious importance. All these are sufficient justification for continuing to hold them and not handing them over to foreign sovereignty. [. ]

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Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
- After the Disengagement

Hila Alroi De-Barr

Almost two weeks after disengagement, many of the evacuees and evacuators have not succeeded in recovering. It is doubtful whether they will succeed to do so in the future. A soldier who fell apart emotionally after she portrayed a bereaved mother during an exercise, a settler who is still incapable of sleeping at night, a policeman who took the cries of Nazi personally and evacuees who do not stop crying, all these are part of a wider phenomenon: a post-traumatic reaction on both sides of the evacuation.

A long time before the disengagement process began, health officials were concerned about post-traumatic phenomena such as those following terror attacks or wars. And this concern turned out to be valid. Reports have accumulated in the health system of late regarding more than 50 people who have already utilized psychiatric services at the Soroka medical center in Beer Sheva in the wake of disengagement.

Dr. Tzahi Ben-Zion, deputy director of the psychiatric department and deputy director of the hospital, has confirmed the reports: "Several dozen evacuees have come to us. People with real distress: depression, anxiety, a feeling of having been betrayed by the state, the authorities, and the leaders." Furthermore, several security force personnel have also arrived at the hospital. [.]

However, Dr. Ben-Zion said that Soroka hospital anticipated, and still anticipates, the arrival of many more cases from among the evacuators: "The emotional preparation and processing performed by the mental health professionals before and during disengagement are laudable. The evacuees touched very sensitive nerves when interacting with the soldiers. It is very hard for a soldier to have someone shouting at him that he will remember him in his dreams and that he is a Nazi, and I believe that we are now seeing only the tip of the iceberg. I assume that in the coming years we will see more cases that could arise of situations of distress and crisis."

"The majority of the people whom we saw from among the evacuees arrived with responses that one can see in any person who has undergone a dramatic event. There are people here who are being evacuated from their homes for a second time, and a home represents far more than a mere physical structure. A home is a place that provides a lot of security, calm and tranquility. Home is a type of anchor; there is a real reason people feel better after returning home. When you have no place like this to connect with, this could be a problem," he explained.

Dr. Ben-Zion added: [.] People feel that they have been uprooted from [.] everything that is familiar and comforting and that they are headed for an unknown destination. What intensified the effect with those people is the fact that they believed with all their heart that [disengagement] wouldn't take place and for political reasons they did not prepare for the evacuation. Thus, from the emotional perspective, disengagement came to them as a sort of surprise that led to a crisis of faith and identity."

Not all the emotional assistance is being carried within the hospital. Mental health teams, including psychiatrists, nurses and social workers, accompanied the evacuation in the field as well and encountered harsh responses. During the events in Kfar Darom, for instance, the settlers sprayed a corrosive substance onto the eye of a policeman who actually identified strongly with their battle. The policemen had lifted his helmet visor in an attempt to talk with one of the settlers, and then the settler sprayed the material onto his eye. "The policeman took it very hard, mainly because he identified with them, but as a policeman he had to do his job. We sat with him, calmed him down and explained to him that it was not personal. The settler did not spray the material onto his eye because he was against him, but because from the settler's perspective, the policeman represented the state," related the doctor.

An additional case was that of a hilltop youth who was brought to the hospital in an acute psychotic state. "We suspect that he had used a large amount of cannabis while in the Gaza Strip and stopped taking the drug suddenly because of the evacuation," related the doctor. "In addition, he did not drink or eat, and the combination of thirst, hunger and drugs that were suddenly stopped, led to a very agitated psychotic state. [.] He stayed with us overnight and was released for treatment in the community. As a psychiatrist I was very surprised to discover that there was a tale of drugs in this sector as well."

This piece ran in Maariv on September 4th, 2005

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