Saturday November 1, 2014
Israel Hayom
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31.10.2014
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Zvika Fogel

There are no do-overs in war

Israel is set to make a heavy sacrifice on the altar of compromise, deals and political jobs. Instead of determining long-term priorities, the defense budget cuts that are certain to damage the reserve army will weaken the only branch we are all dependent on -- the defense establishment.

Slashing training days for reservists, shortening the length of mandatory army service, letting go of career soldiers and, apparently, investing less in equipment and development, will lead to casualties. I don't want to think of worse scenarios, such as being unable to defend Israelis.

Israelis don't have the luxury of not learning from mistakes. The Second Lebanon War and the Yom Kippur War before it proved there is an unbearable price to pay for arrogance, overconfidence and hindering the fighting ranks. The Middle East is ablaze and the politicians refuse to see it. Is the need for re-election and for sector-based budget distribution more important to them than the safety of the people and the fighting soldiers?

On the Golan Heights, as the Syrian civil war rages on, a jihadist al-Qaida state could arise. For two years already the Sinai Peninsula has functioned as a weapons warehouse, training ground and center of operations for terrorists (and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has other priorities that don't include making Israel's border safe). In Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, despite efforts by Israel's security services, Hezbollah and Hamas are getting stronger. In Judea and Samaria is a Palestinian leader who lacks leadership skills and who does not actually intend to reach any sort of compromise with Israel. Presiding over all these factors, out of intra-Islamic interests and a hate for the West in general and Israel in particular -- are Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Assuming we all understand that the budget cannot be sliced and still remain whole, we must look in the mirror and ask ourselves some uncompromising questions:

What are we willing to give up so we can continue developing the Iron Dome and other anti-missile and rocket systems? How much are we willing to pay so that every Jewish mother knows that her child's fate is in the hands of worthy, experienced and well-trained commanders?

How important is it that the experience we have garnered and the ability to implement it are preserved in the defense establishment and that every few years we will not have to put more people on the chopping block simply because they are inexperienced?

The inexplicable arrogance and self-confidence of some politicians, junior or otherwise, will awaken us to an impossible reality sooner than we expect. Our enemies in the Middle East are watching us with a magnifying glass, waiting for that moment we have our guard down to pounce.

The time has come for introspection about our future and culture. Instead of "trimming" income from the tycoons; instead of employing foreign workers as a replacement for Israelis; instead of municipal authorities and various government offices squandering so much money on needlessly grandiose events; and instead of allowing the banks to disproportionately fill their coffers by letting anyone go into overdraft -- we must convince the current government to change its mentality and make decisions to benefit our future, not its political future.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid both have the necessary tools. If they want to be remembered in the history books as those who facilitated Israel's continued existence, then they need to muster the same courage as the soldier who charges the enemy head on.

This soldier knows that on the battlefield this is the only way to fulfill the purpose for which he was sent there -- to protect the people of Israel.

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