In Zion's Dilemmas, a former deputy national security
advisor to the State of Israel details the history and, in many
cases, the chronic inadequacies in the making of Israeli national
security policy. Chuck Freilich identifies profound, ongoing
problems that he ascribes to a series of factors: a hostile and
highly volatile regional environment, Israel's proportional
representation electoral system, and structural peculiarities of
the Israeli government and bureaucracy.
Freilich uses his insider understanding and substantial archival
and interview research to describe how Israel has made strategic
decisions and to present a first of its kind model of national
security decision-making in Israel. He analyzes the major events of
the last thirty years, from Camp David I to the 1982 invasion of
Lebanon, through Camp David II, the Gaza Disengagement Plan of
2000, and the second Lebanon war of 2006.
In these and other cases he identifies opportunities forgone,
failures that resulted from a flawed decision-making process, and
the entanglement of Israeli leaders in an inconsistent, highly
politicized, and sometimes improvisational planning process. The
cabinet is dysfunctional and Israel does not have an effective
statutory forum for its decision-making-most of which is thus
conducted in informal settings. In many cases policy objectives and
options are poorly formulated. For all these problems, however, the
Israeli decision-making process does have some strengths, among
them the ability to make rapid and flexible responses, generally
pragmatic decision-making, effective planning within the defense
establishment, and the skills and motivation of those involved.
Freilich concludes with cogent and timely recommendations for
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