Lawfare as a Means of Defining Military Doctine in the 21st Century, IDF as an example to the CDF in the Wake of the ITFY in the Hague 

 By dr. Peter Anthony Ercegovac

& Marinko Tomašić


The Question of “Ethnic Cleansing” and Military Doctrine

During his time at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the 1970s Baruch Kimmerling was working toward a PhD on Zionist ideology and its relationship toward land and its political consequences when he discovered that the World Zionist Organisation’s (WZO) Jewish National Fund (JNF) between 1882 and 1948 had purchased only 7% of Arab owned land in Palestine meaning that in the wake of the war of independence the Israeli state saw 350 Arab villages evacuated, leaving, according to the then Minister for Agriculture Moshe Dayan, four million dunums of land being procured through nationalisation to the Israeli state or the JNF (Kimmerling, 2004, p. 3). All of which was legislated into law through the 1960 Basic Law: Israel Lands, the Israel Lands Law, the Israel Lands Administration Laws, and the 1954 and1961 Convenants between the Government of Israel and the WZO and JNF respectively.

Why is this significant?

Because these policies were the child of the 1948 Military Blueprint which would be called Plan D (Tochnit Daleth) designed and implemented in part by General Yigael Yadin on March 10, 1948. As Yadin stated:

Actions against enemy settlements located in our, or near our, defense systems [i.e., Jewish settlements and localities] with the aim of preventing their use as bases for active armed forces. These actions should be divided into the following types: The destruction of villages (by fire, blowing up and mining)- especially of those villages over which we cannot gain [permanent] control. Gaining of control will be accomplished in accordance with the following instructions: The encircling of the village and the search of it. In the event of resistance- the destruction of resisting forces and the expulsion of  the population beyond the boundaries of the state[1].

Yet, even some of the most foremost critics of IDF strategies of displacement of Palestinian populations such as Benny Morris do not see either the results of population resettlement/expulsion/flight in the wake of Plan D in 1948 or after the 1967 and 1973 wars as war crimes. Why? Because the role of the IDF is seen as the ideological instrument to protect Israel at all costs. Hence, it is exempt from blame at the core level from any form of war crime. There is awareness that one victory, even if it is the one that establishes the nation-state as a result of a war of independence, does not in anyway guarantee the continuum of a state’s existence as history is endless. Yesterday’s borders changed, today’s are likewise impermanent, tomorrow’s are defined today. Thus a state that seeks to survive must always at a military level be ideologically prepared to ensure the defence of the realm from within and without.

When talking of Israel’s future in an interview for the Middle East Quarterly Benny Morris (p. 69) said: “That there was a victory in 1948, but this did not ensure the existence of the state of Israel ad infinitum. Our success in 1948 aroused in the Arab mind a reaction of rejection and a tremendous desire for revenge. The Arab world adamantly refuses to condone our existence. Even if peace treaties have been signed since then, the average Arab, the educated man in his home, and the soldier in his fox hole persistently refuse to recognize Israel”. It would be naïve to believe that this scenario does not exist in Croatia’s case post Operation Storm in 1995. Any serious defence force would also recognise this and solidify this knowledge within its raison d’etre.

Alan Dowty (1999) feels that this attitude comes from an innate understanding of          the need for defensive organisation, be it at a cultural, social or religious level, when operating in a non-Jewish environ for 2000 years. This fortified the people into a political nation through an increased spirit of understanding that survival comes from a welding of common and individual interests in a single goal polity, the state. For such communities the individual sees its nation-state as a communal entity with whom it identifies as a guarantor of his/her national identity. This is at odds with the modern western view of the civil state whereby the individual sees the state as a separate entity designed as a forum for the resolution of competing interest groups. When it comes to the IDF Israelis realise that if it was not for their intervention in 1967 and 1973 Israel as a nation would not exist today. As in both cases Israel alone fought its enemies as did Croatia from 1991 till 1995.

Hence, any form of marginalization of the IDF in favour of increased democratic social relations is scene by many Israelis as an anathema to peace. Peace is not up for negotiation. It is not a goal to be attained by bargaining national rights or land, it is to be sculptured from the very land itself. Something that many Croatian politicians are purposefully neglecting in the aim of achieving EU membership at all costs.

A prime example of this was how the IDF took over Oslo I post September 1993 and gained full control- by Oslo II in 1995- over the process of negotiation. Though Shimon Pires and Yossi Beilin, the Foreign Min and deputy Foreign Min respectively, were the architects of the long term peace strategies it was Prime Min Rabin who slowly moved IDF generals into negotiation positions post the September 1993 Washington signing of the agreement.

The July 2000 Camp David negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Govt is another example whereby, even when agreements are on the verge of being made, when the question of refugee return arises Israel seeks to react in a way that places the security of the nation before that of positive international public opinion. Even when on September 18, 2000, the PLO Central Committee reaffirmed that no agreement could be confirmed without a total return of refugees, including a return to their former residences in Jerusalem (Dowty and Gaweerc, 2001, p. 40)[2]. The response of the Israeli elite? The September 29 visit of Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount went ahead, even in the face of last minutes warnings by Jibril Rajub (ibid. p. 41), Head of Preventative Security on the West Bank. The result would be the second Intifada. An opportunity taken by the Govt and IDF to further close the West Bank and Gaza from outside traffic.

The IDF here is the instrument of implementation of such policies. Many scholars of Israeli and Jewish society have rightly pointed out that the Holocaust has left its mark upon the national psyche. Especially, in the wake of non-intervention by many western powers and the rejection of mass acceptance of refugees fleeing Germany and Central-Eastern European territories during WWII. A hardening of values towards security and the role of the nation-state in implementing security policies has led to a more aggressive attitude of the Israeli nation  per se on this question[3].

Not even the question of democracy is immune to this. Democracy, freedom of the press and civil rights are important. Yet they are not to ever exceed the significance of national security at any level. First and foremost is the protection of the Israeli citizen before any promotion of a social movement or civic societal agendii. So much so that Israeli Chief of Staff Rafael Eytan once declared “nothing which might give satisfaction to an Arab, should be allowed to be published by the Israeli news media.”[4]

In fact, though international opinion is important, it is not paramount. Something that the elites of Croatia have yet to realise. It was Matthews (2009, p.49) in his seminal study of IDF strategies in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and their consequences upon IDF doctrinal development who noted:

Although threatened with a crushing defeat, Hamas still believed it could strengthen its standing in the Arab world by continuing to resist and by conducting an effective IO [sic*- international opinion] campaign. However, while Hamas’s propaganda machine tried to capture worldwide sympathy for its plight and paint Israel as the aggressor, the IDF pushed on relentlessly, seemingly unconcerned about any wide-reaching IO effort. One IDF officer said that the Israelis would never win global public opinion, but thought Israel’s IO campaign had worked well in conveying the message that “we did as we pleased, when we pleased, and where we pleased- full battle space domination.”

Interestingly, when considering the Croatian elites’ fascination with the opinions of civil society and media’s demand for transparency Matthew (ibid. p.49) noted that the opinion of one Israeli soldier he interviewed that “he also considered the IDF’s ability to be “less transparent” in this conflict as a positive factor”, because at the core of the new strategy is to always be able to create a “better security situation”. For example, even to the extent that Israeli military elite ignored the concerted effort by critical theorists and post-modernists who called, through the British Association of University Teachers’ in 2005, for the academic boycott of Haifa and Bar Ilan universities with the aim of  removing “tenured radicals” from Israeli educational institutions (Seliktar, 2005).  The IDF and Israel Govt did not appease these calls rather they came out on the attack using the medium of broadcast and print media to defend their positions.

Opposed to this we have the Croatian example whereby we have the wanton opening of the Presidential Archives to the world media by former President Stipe Mesić which was instrumental in providing the documentation that convicted generals Gotovina and Markač at the Hague. In Israel the Westminster concept of the “right to know”, which has found its legal completion in the US constitutional law in the Freedom of Information Act, is not recognized. In fact after consultation with the IDF in order to recognise how best to protect the military Israeli lawmakers over the years have ensured that the protection of national security is of greater import. This is shown through the legislation of the Israel Penal Revision Law (1957)  and the Basic Law on the Executive Branch (1968) which prohibits the publication of classified and cabinet meeting documents. The Freedom of Information Law (1998) has only made cosmetic changes to the law. This is an example of a parliament placing security of the state and its defence force ahead of civil rights issues for the benefit of national security as a whole.

(Nastavit će se…)

[1] The implementation of such policy saw 20,000 square km of territory (6000 more than granted to Israel by the UN Partition Resolution) and with 700,00 Arabs becoming refugees with no right of return, as Kimmerling would state “The military doctrine, the base of Plan D, clearly reflected the local Zionist ideological aspirations to acquire a maximal Jewish territorial continuum, cleansed from Arab presence, as a necessary condition for establishing exclusive Jewish nation-state”, 2004, p. 4.

[2] It is worth noting that Dowty and Gawerc point out that during the lead up to these Camp David negotiations the Israeli Ministry of Housing oversaw a 92% increase in the commencement of construction between the first half of 2000 and 1999 respectively in the settlements in the Occupied Territories even when the issue of return was known to be central to the Palestinians’ negotiation’s starting position, p. 40.

[3] As Dowty (1999, p. 7) points out through various opinion polls conducted by the Israeli authorities between 1967 and today in 1969 64% of sampled Israelis felt that “they preferred strong leadership over “all the laws and debate”. By 1981 this numbered 72%. Whilst in 1990  some 34% of Israelis considered Israel too democratic.

[4] Ibid.  p. 9.

Dobrodošli na web stranicu Hrvatske družbe povjesničara Dr. Rudolf Horvat