The JCPA Conference on Israel’s Vital Security Needs


yerushalayim-tel-aviv-from-west-bankBy Dovid Tzvi Hoffman

Four minutes. It takes is four minutes for the average male to get dressed. Four minutes is all it takes to make popcorn in the microwave. Four minutes is also how long it would take for a Palestinian jet to fly over Israel and fire upon Israeli homes. On Wednesday, June 2, a conference was held in the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem. The topic of this conference was “Israel’s Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace.”         

Dr. Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N., began the conference with a welcome and an introduction explaining Israel’s need to have peace and stability.  

Dr. Lars Hansel, director of the Konrad Adeunuer  Stiftung (KAS) in Israel, gave a short speech saying how KAS has been supporting Israel since after the Holocaust and will continue to do so.  He also mentioned that Germany had recently given three submarines to Israel. Dr. Hansel went on to say that Israel’s security is vital and that Israel can’t afford to take security risks.

Next to speak was Brigadier General Yosef Kuperwasser, Vice Director of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and former head of the Research and Assessment Division of the IDF. He explained that there are five types of threats to Israel at this time:

1) The military threat, which is currently under control.

2) The disruption of the electromagnetic environment.

3) The political threat.

4) Other countries trying to illegitimatize Israel’s right to its own state, like the flotilla incident.

5) And lastly – terrorist attacks.

General Kuperwasser then explained that Israel cannot keep attempting to negotiate with its neighbors if its neighbors refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right as a state. Instead to protect itself, Israel needs to secure its borders to protect itself.

Next to speak was Major General Uzi Dayan, former deputy chief of staff for the IDF, and former chairman of the Israeli National Security Council. He began his discussion with the flotilla incident, and explained:   “Israel set up a blockade for its own security. Turkey sent a ship full of humanitarians so that Israel would lose public relations points. It was a win win situation for Turkey if Israel would have let them through, the world would think Israeli security is a joke.  If Israel would not let them through, well, look what happened. Turkey would have done the same thing if not worse if it were in Israel’s position.”

General Dayan went on to say that Israel’s main weak spot is its industry. Eighty percent of Israel’s industry is located in a narrow strip completely unprotected and exposed. “The only solution to this problem,” Dayan said, “is to retake the land called the Jordan rift valley.  The Jordan rift valley is a piece of land between the west bank and the Jordan river. It is the most ideal place for Israel’s defense line because of its natural defenses. He went on to say that Israel has a natural right and a historical need to protect itself and only Israel can protect itself and in order to allow sufficient security complete sovereignty over the Jordan rift valley is needed. Furthermore Israel must change its policies based on negotiations and everyone must be in agreement based on security zones.”

Next to speak was Brigadier General Udi Dekel, former head of the IDF strategic planning division and former head of the negotiation unit under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. General Dekel started off very intensely about a meeting in Camp David between Israel and the U.S in the year 2000 about Israeli security. He remembers one American diplomat saying “…you Israeli’s exaggerated threats to your country.”  A year later was 9/11. He said that it takes a jet three to four minutes to cross the entire width of Israel; if there are hostile aircrafts over Israeli airspace there is insufficient time for a response team to get in the air. The only way to allow security for Israel via air is to allow Israel complete control over Israel with no exceptions. The Palestinians now want there own airport, this is impossible to allow if Israel is to have any sort of security in the air, what we can allow General Dekel said is to allow them a civilian airport with Israeli security.

Next to speak was Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan. He said that in order for Israel to have a viable security, it needs a safe haven in another country. For example Iran is being used by Pakistan as a safe haven. He also said that an international peacekeeping force should replace the IDF in Israel such as NATO.

After a short break Major General Aharon Ze’evi   Farkash, former director of IDF intelligence spoke. He said, “Israel is in a problematic situation, because the world looks at Israel with a biased eye. Israel must tell the world what the situation really is and what they have to deal with. The Turks calls Hamas its little sister, there are underground tunnels in the Gaza strip in which arms are smuggled through. It is very simple to make Kassam rockets and Palestinians can make them out of household objects. In Ashdod an Israeli boat was attacked because the border is too big to protect.  There are lessons to be learned from past events, that security boundaries should be made clear, Israel should make sure there are no military forces not under Palestinian authority, there should be no rallying in mosques, and Israel should make sure surrounding countries aren’t building up armies.” He finished by saying that all future agreements with Palestine should make sure that security threats are fully controlled.

Major General Yaakov Amidror, former head of the research and assessment division of the IDF, and program director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in the JCPA, was next to speak. He started off saying that the flotilla incident was a plan to illegitimize Israel. He said contrary to Col. Richard Kemp that the only way to protect Israel is with its own army. There was never a case where a foreign force helped out a countries situation. During the six-day war there were U.N. soldiers in Israel and when the fighting started they left. The United Nations never helped Israel fight Hezbollah either. General Amidror finished strongly by saying better not to have them at all than to have an illusion of peace.

The last speaker was Dr. Dore Gold, president of the JCPA and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. He said that the rumor saying that Israel must retreat its borders to the lines established in 1949 is incorrect. Throughout recent years Israel has been allowed flexibility with its borders by the United States government, in view that it is not reasonable to expect them to return to the 49 lines. President Bush wrote a letter giving permission to Israel to secure its borders and protect itself from threats. The question is what is the status of the Bush letter today? The Froid letters are still in use so the Bush letters should also especially since both houses of congress endorsed it.  When Robert Wood was asked if the bush letter should be followed he said yeas and when asked if the U.S. follows it he said he could not answer the question, which means President Obama did not denounce it. He ended saying that Obama should veto any action wanting to make Israel move its borders, but if the Bush letter is disregarded Israel is going to be in trouble.

The conference was remarkably enlightening and developed the listener’s appreciation of Israel’s critical security needs.  The website has videos of each speaker.  Anyone who is concerned about Israel’s vital security needs should certainly tune in.

{By Dovid Tzvi ben Rav Yair Hoffman}

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