11.30.08

'National Resilience' Victory on the Home Front

The purpose of this document is to offer a conceptual framework for organizing Israel's home front based on an analysis of the challenges facing Israel and the resources available to it. A draft of this document was presented to the Ayalon Committee studying the preparedness of the homefront.

Summary

The concept 'Home Front' addresses the Israeli response to national emergency situations that may arise as a result of war or natural disaster.

The home front is made up of two main systems:

  1. 'The State' in the form of national and local authorities including the Knesset, the Government of Israel, IDF, security forces and emergency forces, local authorities, or any other entity which carries authority by law;
  2. The Non-Government Sector which includes nonprofits, philanthropists, the business sector, households and individuals. An additional and unique component is World Jewry. While these systems are often combined, they are also different in structure, values and management.

Israel's current National Security Strategy assigns marginal importance to the home front – According to the prevailing approach, Israel's victory will be achieved on the military front. Therefore, other arenas of national security – such as the civilian home front, diplomacy or media – are neglected in terms of resources, strategy or attention. Therefore, a gap exists between the challenge facing Israel and its actions.

However, the home front has become a central arena of Israel's national security – The civilian home front has become the weak underbelly of Israel's national security and is perceived as such by our adversaries. Since the early 90's, Israel's home front has been systematically targeted in all confrontations. Furthermore, the home front may be the primary and sole arena of confrontation as was the case during the First Gulf War (1991) or may be in the case of a natural disaster.

Therefore Israel needs to be able to win on its home front –At war, Israel needs to strive for victory on both fronts: the military and civilian ones. History teaches that such victory can be achieved – prominent examples include London (1940) or recently NYC (2001).

Victory on the home front depends on 'National Resilience' – National resilience is the capacity to recover from a crisis without breaking the social fabric or compromising core human and national values. Israel's National Resilience may turn into a strategic asset and even enhance Israel's deterrence.

A 'Narrative of Victory' will emerge through our conduct and be fixed in our perception. It will not be determined by casualties or destruction. History shows that it is disciplined conduct, a core of human values, leadership and a sense of purpose that make 'victory narratives' of societies that faced supreme challenges directed towards their populations.

Four phases of 'National Resilience' – A narrative of victory of a home front will have four 'chapters' corresponding to four phases of dealing with national emergency: 'preparedness', 'immediate response', 'during the crisis', and 'day after'.

The keystone of 'National Resilience' should be a well-embedded national 'victory narrative' that is embraced by citizens, households, businesses, nonprofits, foundations and the 'state' with all its institutions. Such a victory narrative will be critical to aligning expectations and actions by the population during states of emergency.

A deeply rooted 'Culture of Preparedness' is the foundation for victory on the home front – A 'culture of preparedness' relates to a set of values, priorities, patterns of behavior and habits that are embedded into society with the aim of preparing for national emergency situations.

The foundation of a 'Culture of Preparedness' is partnership among 'the state' and the non-government sector – In this partnership, 'the state' needs to expand its role beyond its traditional role of building the physical infrastructure or training and preparing its own agencies, e.g. law enforcement and emergency forces or local governments. The state should also provide for the legislation, regulation, standardization and enforcement that is essential for the preparedness of the non-governmental sector. The non-governmental sector needs to prepare its members for national emergencies, thus providing nation-wide presence of committed, well-prepared and well-trained citizens.

Based on the above, the Reut Institute recommends the following:

  1. To adopt the 'Victory Narrative' of 'National Resilience';
  2. To lay the foundations for 'National Resilience' by creating the conducive legislative and regulatory environment. In this context, concrete actions may include establishing forums for cooperation and coordination among state institutions and the non-governmental sector; introducing routines of training, orientation and refreshers; training thousands of civilians as first-responders; or encouraging households to own emergency kits;
  3. To update the national security strategy by incorporating a chapter on the home front based on the concept of 'National Resilience' and by including the state of the home front in the annual national security assessment;
  4. To expand the concept of national resilience in the context of other arenas that are of national importance during emergencies, such as use of civilian infrastructure, communications, the role of the business sector, world Jewry emergency appeal, or Israel's Arab citizens.

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