Civil Resilience Network: A Conceptual Framework for Israel's Local & National Resilience

This document offers a conceptual framework for boosting Israel's local and national resilience. The document is a product of a collaborative partnership between the Reut Institute and the Israel Trauma Coalition, initiated by the United Jewish Appeal – Federation of New York City.



  • This document offers a conceptual framework for boosting Israel's local and national resilience. It calls for consolidating a Civil Resilience Network comprising thousands of units (nodes) that have embraced a 'Culture of Preparedness' and thus have basic core capacities to respond to a crisis effectively, independently and collaboratively.

  • The objective of the resilience network is to make a decisive contribution to Israel's successful response to national crises, when a majority of the population in many areas is exposed to severe danger and shortages.

  • The Civil Resilience Network can be consolidated quickly and at very low costs. Most of its components already exist and most of the required resources are readily available within its potential units.

  • Furthermore, this resilience network should yield many other benefits to Israeli society by strengthening local communities, improving response to local challenges and crises, enhancing social cohesion and thus contributing to quality of life.


  1. The Second Lebanon War (7/06) exposed many weaknesses in Israel's national security strategy. Israel's enemies focused their resources on attacking Israel's home front, however this front has been regarded by Israel as secondary in importance to the point that it was neglected.

  2. Following this war, Israel's emergency preparedness has been remarkably overhauled: The Ministry of Defense was assigned with overall responsibility for the home front, resources were allocated and emergency authorities were trained and their standard operating procedures were updated.

  3. Operation Cast Lead (1/09) demonstrated evident and significant improvement in the functioning of Israel's emergency authorities.

  4. Nonetheless, it is widely agreed that the relative success on the home front during Operation Cast Lead does not indicate that Israel is prepared for national crisis, primarily due to the limited scope of the area and population that were under attack.

  5. Turning Point 3, the recent national emergency exercise (6/09), simulated a national crisis with full participation of all emergency authorities. However, the manner of involvement of the civilian population in this exercise left a troubling concern that Israel continues to lack an adequate responses to such crises.

  6. Therefore, this document deals with two main challenges: the place of the home front in Israel's national security strategy and the preparedness for national crises.

    The Place of the Home Front Arena in Israel's National Security Strategy:
    The Need for 'Synchronized Victories' and National Resilience

  7. Israel has viewed the military front as almost exclusively decisive for its national victory in times of military conflicts. However the impact of the home front on the overall outcome of such engagements has been increasing to the point where it may be of equal importance. In other words, Israel's success on this front may be a precondition for Israel's victory in future conflicts.

  8. Consequently, this document calls for reformulating Israel's national security strategy based on the concept of ‘Synchronized Victories', which assumes that our national victory will be consolidated on several interconnected and interdependent fronts: the military front, diplomacy, media and the home front (which is the subject of this conceptual framework).

  9. Hence, Israel must define criteria for success on the home front and work towards meeting them.

  10. Resilience is the foundation of success on the home front. It is the ability to transcend a crisis by adapting to dramatically changed conditions, minimizing casualties, securing basic quality of life for individuals and communities, and preserving core values and identity.

  11. National resilience emerges out of bottom-up resilience of individuals, households, communities, businesses and organizations, as well as top-down resilience of public institutions and a sense of purpose and leadership. Foundations of national resilience are consolidated before a crisis and immediately following one - on the 'day after', and are tested in the immediate response to a crisis and in its duration.

    The Challenge of a National Crisis

  12. Israel remains unprepared for national crisis in spite of the dramatic overhaul of its emergency authorities since the Second Lebanon War (7/06). In such a crisis there will be a dramatic gap between the needs and the expectations of the population, on the one hand, and the capacities and resources of the emergency authorities, on the other hand.

  13. This gap could lead to collapses in some areas in the form of breakdown of social norms, law and order, mass disobedience and loss of trust among citizens and local and national authorities. Such a collapse would deny Israel success on the home front and consequently also national victory in military confrontations.

  14. The reason for this gap is a set of tacit and explicit working assumptions that underlie Israel's present crisis preparedness, which are misaligned with reality. Primarily, while emergency response is considered a 'public product', which must be provided by the government, in reality there is a dramatic shortage of resources and capacities.

  15. At the same time, there are tremendous resources in Israeli society - many thousands of individuals, households, organizations and businesses - that are readily available and could easily be mobilized to contribute to local and national resilience. But, they are not.

    The Response:
    A Civil Resilience Network Based on a Culture of Preparedness

  16. This document presents a strategy for mobilizing Israeli society to deal with national crisis. The strategy is based on organizing individuals and households, corporations, organizations, and public institutions into a Civil Resilience Network that is founded on a culture of preparedness:

    (a) The Civil Resilience Network will comprise thousands of units ('nodes') of various types (endpoints, hubs, catalysts, and civilians-volunteers), that are committed to national and local resilience, and have basic capacities to act independently and collaboratively in a crisis;

    (b) A culture of preparedness is a set of values, priorities, patterns of conduct and behaviors that enable adequate response to crisis.

    The basis for consolidating the resilience network is individuals, organizations, corporations and agencies that already embody a culture of preparedness and possess vast resources that can easily be mobilized.

  17. This response requires partnership between 'the State' and civil society at large:

    (a) The State - Government of Israel, the Knesset, and the emergency authorities - must provide the legislation, standardization and enforcement that will instill a culture of preparedness. The State must also ensure continued proper operation of the authorities that are vital for resilience such as in health, welfare, transportation, education and law and order;

    (b) The Civil Resilience Network will mobilize resources, personnel and infrastructure toward local and national resilience in times of crisis.

  18. A central characteristic of this network is its own resilience and durability that stem from its flat and nonhierarchical structure, the independence of its units and its inherent duplications and overlaps.

    Instilling a Culture of Preparedness in the Resilience Network

  19. The overarching principles of the resilience network should be: coordinating expectations and sharing information with the public; strengthening network hubs (see below), which are its most critical units; imposing mandatory individual and family preparedness on first-responders; continuing operation (to the extent possible) of the public sector, business sector and third sector during crisis; and relying on institutions and patterns of behavior that operate routinely.

  20. The Government and Knesset need to formulate the logic and strategy for organizing the home front; to lay the legal foundations of the resilience network and to enforce them in order to create incentives for instilling a culture of preparedness; to update the current operating procedures of government ministries and agencies in light of the existence of the resilience network; and to allocate funds and resources to it.

  21. Local authorities should be powerful catalysts of local resilience by formulating local resilience strategy, integrating it into the local vision and coordinating it with adjacent local governments; coordinating expectations with local population; and mapping the local resilience network and cultivating it.

  22. Continued operation of educational institutions is critical for local and national resilience. In this context, academic institutions with their human and physical resources are an important untapped asset that should be harnessed in advance.

  23. Emergency preparedness must be an integral part of social responsibility of corporations toward their employees, communities and society at large.

  24. Nonprofits whose continued operation is essential, should be identified in advance and their status and preparedness regulated.

  25. The Government of Israel (GOI) needs to support organizations whose objective is to build the resilience network and instill a culture of preparedness on the local level, based on the strategy of national resilience.

  26. The Jewish world must be an integral part of Israel's Civil Resilience Network and culture of preparedness. On the national level, preparedness should be a subject of continued dialogue among the GOI, Jewish Agency (JAFI), The Joint (JDC), United Jewish Communities (UJC) and Keren HaYesod. On the local level, Israeli communities need to coordinate their preparedness with their partner Jewish communities or sister cities.

  27. Israeli and Jewish philanthropists must also prepare their interventions in times of crisis and their contribution to the Civil Resilience Network, focusing on nonprofits whose continued operation has been recognized as essential for local and national resilience.

  28. A designated resilience fund needs to be established. Its fruits will serve to cultivate the Civil Resilience Network and culture of preparedness, while the fund itself - in full or in part - will be used to finance emergency needs.

  29. Preparedness of individuals and households should be regularly promoted primarily through workplaces and educational institutions. Thousands of volunteers who are prepared to assume responsibility for other citizens should be mobilized by local organizations and trained accordingly.

  30. The personal and household preparedness of first-responders must be mandatory and this group should be expanded beyond policepersons, firefighters, soldiers, doctors and nurses to include other sectors whose continued operation is vital during crises, these include: teachers, social workers, people in senior positions and their staff and managers of community centers.

  31. Roundtables should convene regularly in every local authority and district, with the participation of representatives of the local government, businesses and the third sector. The purpose of the roundtables should be to formulate and update the local resilience strategy and instill it among local residents.

  32. A yearly national resilience week should serve to instill a culture of preparedness among emergency authorities and the public.

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