How David Ben-Gurion Sowed the Seeds of the Start-Up Nation

As recently released economic data confirm, high-tech in its various forms continues to play a critical role in Israel’s economic success. Gabi Siboni traces how this came about—looking especially to the role of the IDF—and examines the risks as well as benefits of the current situation:

The basic concept of security formulated by David Ben-Gurion in the early years of the state rested on three pillars: deterrence, early warning, and decisive victory. Maintaining a sizeable regular military was practically impossible, so early warning was required to gather the reserve units. This constraint obliged the IDF to establish a sophisticated intelligence system to provide early warning. The intelligence units of the IDF were required to develop diverse capabilities. The information revolution and the development of technology caused intelligence to be based more and more on technological capabilities in cyberspace.

In addition, conscription for the IDF is an essential element in developing the technological environment in Israel. The specialized units in the IDF begin the selection process at very early stages and enjoy access to the highest-quality personnel resources of the state of Israel. . . . However, there’s a catch: the youth’s pursuit of the technological units does contribute to the skills of Israeli intelligence and the state’s economy, but it harms the motivation to recruit into the fighting units.

According to an internal survey conducted in the IDF, the motivation for combat service for men in 2022 was the lowest in recent years—66 percent compared with 73 percent in 2020. For women, it was 48 percent in 2022, compared with 60 percent in 2018. The continuation of this trend is very disturbing.

A senior commander in the IDF previously stated that the decrease in motivation to serve in the field units is a result of the shift to the technological units of the best youth when the center of gravity of the service moves from the fighting field units to the special units and to those serving in the intelligence and technological units. As a result, the combat units must make do with those who failed or could not integrate into the personnel selection processes for the special units, the prestigious courses, and the technological and intelligence array.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: David Ben-Gurion, IDF, Israeli economy, Israeli technology, Israelie

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy