National Security: The Israeli Experience

National Security: The Israeli Experience

National Security: The Israeli Experience

National Security: The Israeli Experience


A comprehensive account of Israel's doctrine of national security, this study examines to what degree security theories have proven valid and suggests an updated security doctrine for the next century. Beginning with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Israeli defense planners have faced a daunting task. General Tal describes the history of the Israel-Arab wars from the War of Independence onward and presents a security theory specific to Israel from which the fighting doctrines of the Israeli military derive. He also categorizes the levels of security various nations enjoy as a result of their differing geo-political situations, their power, and the conflicts of interests that they face with their neighbors.


The basic principles and ideas that underpin Israeli security doctrine took shape in the 1950s. The fundamentals of that doctrine were formulated by a relatively small group of commanders and staff officers under the direction of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and minister of defense. The members of that group and the commanders and staff officers who continued in later years to elaborate and expand upon their original work deserve the credit for developing an original and unique Israeli doctrine of security.

The leaders of Israel saw from the outset that the future did not augur well. The security horizon was likely to remain cloudy for a long time to come, and Israel would have to continue to rely upon its sword until the Arabs gave up their hope of forcibly extirpating it from the region. The country thus had to develop a doctrine of national security and consolidate its military strength.

A model of national security appropriate to the reality of Israel’s circumstances simply did not exist. What was needed was an original solution to the unique situation in which Israel found itself: a situation in which the few faced the many, in which a David faced a demographic and geographic Goliath, in which a minute island was surrounded by a sea threatening to engulf it.

The solution took shape gradually. The strategic principles adopted were dictated, on the one hand, by the military legacy inherited from

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