By Refusing to Report for Duty, Israeli Reservists Created a Dangerous Precedent

Last month, a number of Israeli reservists—including air-force pilots, elite commandos, and cyberwarfare specialists—announced that they would not appear for their mandatory training rotations to protest the judicial reforms being considered by the Knesset. Fellow opponents of reform praised them for standing up for democracy; proponents of reform condemned them as traitors recklessly politicizing Israeli security. To Kobi Michael, the merits of judicial reform are beside the point: the boycott of reserve duty and the military’s handling of the situation, he argues, have seriously undermined the IDF.

[A]ny declaration of intent to stop volunteering is tantamount to a threat to paralyze [relevant] branches of the military or to disrupt severely their smooth operations, and undermines a unique model of service. . . . And so, a sea change has occurred. The IDF, against the wishes and not at the instigation of the top military leadership, but specifically because of the mishandling of developments within the military due to the political crisis, has become a political actor—the most influential actor in the public sphere in the reality of the current civil-political-moral debate.

Moreover, the military’s handling of this situation created a profound divide with the political leadership because of the severe damage to the political level’s faith in the military leadership and its response to the crisis. This will have a profound impact on future civil-military relations. The incident and the IDF response have scarred Israeli democracy, undermining the public consensus regarding the military and its apolitical standing, certainly when it comes to some of the most important branches of the military and the top echelons of the IDF leadership, which was perceived as supporting—or at the very least, willing to turn a blind eye to—the refusal to serve and, as a result, has become identified as opposing the judicial overhaul, even though none of the top officers have spoken about it.

It is hard to imagine, given the conditions that have been created, that this will not have an impact on the IDF’s recruitment model and on its standing as the “people’s army.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: IDF, Israeli Judicial Reform, Israeli politics, Israeli society

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy