IDF Challenges

By April 2, 2016

In March, the BESA Center held a day-long conference which asked: How can and should the IDF adapt to meet new threats, and respond to changes in Israeli society?

The center has published a collection of the lectures given at the conference (Hebrew).

Videos of the lectures (in Hebrew) are accessible below.

Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff, headlined the conference with a talk on the importance of multi-year planning. (In the process, he made some controversial remarks about Israel’s ties with Turkey, which were widely reported in the media). But Golan wasn’t present for the sharp criticism of IDF planning that was expressed by expert speakers at the conference.

Mr. Ofer Shelah MK (Yesh Atid), who was a defense correspondent and military analyst for 25 years, spoke of the changes the changes needed in the IDF, with an emphasis on clear decision-making.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Maharan Prozenper, former financial advisor to the IDF Chief of Staff and chair of the army advisory committee to the Ministry of Finance, explained that the state and army budgeting process. The budget, he said, suffers from political vicissitudes, and does not truly prioritize long-term priorities.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Moni Chorev of the BESA Center critiqued the IDF’s de-emphasis on major ground formations.Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen and Dr. Eitan Shamir of the BESA Center critiqued the IDF’s over-reliance on American weaponry and operational concepts.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser of the JCPA (former head of research in IDF Intelligence and director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs) and Dr. Edward Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington outlined the threat map for Israel, which starts with Iran and its allies, and continues to the Sunni extremist forces operation in Syria and Sinai.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, the Rosshandler Fellow at the BESA Center, outlined Israel’s intelligence challenges with regard to these adversaries.

Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman of the BESA Center presented the welter of constraints that Israel’s allies place on Israel in responding to regional threats.

Prof. Gabi Ben-Dor of Haifa U. and Prof. Udi Lebel of the BESA Center and Ariel U. related to the challenges of keeping the Israeli public resilient over the long term and the IDF above the left-right ideological fray.

The March conference was held in honor of Mr. Muzi Wertheim, a founder and supporter of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. (Sorrowfully, Mr. Wertheim passed away in August).

Pictured: Maj. Gen. Yair Golan.

The center has published a collection of the lectures given at the conference (Hebrew).


Prof. Miriam Faust, Rector, Bar-Ilan University

Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, JCPA, Current Threats

Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, BESA Center, International Constraints and Opportunities

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, Rosshandler Fellow at the BESA Center

Intelligence Challenges

Dr. Edward Luttwak, CSIS, Retaining Conventional Superiority While Countering Unconventional Threats

Prof. Gabi Ben-Dor, Haifa University, Israeli Resilience

Brig. Gen. (res.) Maharan Prozenper, Former Financial Advisor to the IDF Chief of Staff, Secrets and Myths of the State Budget

Prof. Udi Lebel, Ariel University, On Conscientious Objectors, Rabbis, and Unnecessary Panic

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA Center, Order of Battle

Brig. Gen. (res.) Moni Chorev, BESA Center, Operational Concepts

Mr. Ofer Shelach MK, Changes Needed in the IDF

Dr. Eitan Shamir, BESA Center, American Influence on the IDF