Analysis |

Welcome to the Country Known as Israeli Securityland

Fasten your seatbelts and brace yourselves for a tour of this self-declared independent state’s three diverse areas. Warning: The cost is prohibitive.

Guy Rolnik
Guy Rolnik
The Kirya, Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.
The Kirya, Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.Credit: Moti Milrod
Guy Rolnik
Guy Rolnik

Welcome to our weekend tour of the country known as “Israeli Securityland.” Unlike its little sister, the Palestinian Authority, and its mother, the State of Israel, Israeli Securityland didn’t wait for the United Nations to recognize it. In fact, its leaders didn’t wait for anybody – Israeli or international – before taking fate in hand and declaring independence. Now they have a sovereign independent state that knows how to protect its citizens and defend its borders.

Area A: Home of the desktop warriors

As we pass border control, our your right you can see Area A, the dwelling place of the salary and pension terms of army officers and nonmilitary personnel who fight mainly from the sphere of their desks. The terrain is rough as hell. It’s sealed tight – no force, Israeli or international, could breach that area, let alone map it out. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Israeli government have yet to figure out what really goes on in Area A.

Some whisper that 80% of the residents in Area A work in offices that are just like any other office, though some are furnished at a level not found even in high-tech circles. A secret report from a global accounting firm hired by a foreign government estimated that pension and wage terms in Area A run double and quadruple the norm of the rest of the country, for identical work.

Computer files that the Finance Ministry “obtained” through a secret mission show that 60% of the Area A residents have pension packages worth 3.5 to 7 million shekels ($926,000-$1.85 million). For the sake of comparison, teachers, doctors, social workers, engineers and the like get a third to a fifth of that.

The government’s many attempts to infiltrate Area A and get credible information and explanations for the extent of manpower, and its cost, have gotten nowhere. The ground is mined and commando units of accountants, economists and generals will stop at nothing in defense of its inviolable secrecy.

People who retire from Area A and leave the zone tend to take key positions in the public sector, political realm or in business, where they operate as “sleeper agents.” When the Area A chieftains scent danger lurking, the agents are immediately activated, hurling themselves into public-relations blitzes, character assassinations and indoctrination crackdowns, sparing no effort in the harsh reaction to any nascent civilian uprising.

Only people with the appropriate clearance may enter Area A. Inside, it’s so compartmentalized that not even the commanders within know what’s going on.

Area B: Pitch black is beautiful

Leaving Area A for B, we find complete darkness – yet the size of the terrain is clearly terrifying. It’s in Area B that Israeli Securityland develops new (and old) weapons. Area B is littered with gigantic weapons enterprises, almost all of them top-secret and unknown. On the right we don’t see the Merkava plant, which makes tanks that apparently nobody’s needed for the last 10 or 20 years – yet in that time it received somewhere between 10 to 20 billion shekels in state support. Its sister plant in Hod Hasharon gulped down about the same in support, and is about to be sold for peanuts: a small fraction of the billions upon billions the Israeli taxpayer has sacrificed for its sake.

Oh, and don’t look down there at the bottom of the hill, where you won’t see a series of plants turning out top-secret armaments for Israeli Securityland’s air force. Yet more billions are spent on a “big” secret project, and yet more and more on a “central” one. Nobody knows what’s big about the first one or central about the second, let alone whether either is needed. They’re still soaking up billions upon billions, nonetheless.

A craving for toys is characteristic of armies everywhere. Just like one can’t be too thin or too rich, an army can never invest enough in arms.

Once a month, the Area B chieftains call a press conference, let the reporters peep into the most secret of areas, show them genuine public-relations videos, pile on the military jargon and explain that they’re privileged to be made privy to this top-secret information. They may report on the next generation of cutting-edge weapons but not touch on whether it’s actually needed, or how to prove if it’s needed, or what the priorities are before one pours tens of billions of shekels into it.

Right now, the A and B leadership is in the process of accepting the best-ever, most expensive toy they ever got: FF jets provided “free” by the biggest interest group in the United States (hereinafter: “weapons companies with influence on U.S. security and foreign policy”). Free! The only cost to the Israeli taxpayer is maintenance, which will run a picayune few-billions-of-shekels over the next few years.

Circular logic in CyberCity

While the Palestinians engage in building a big new city, Rawabi – though who will actually live there remains unclear – Israeli Securityland is also building a future city, maybe its biggest yet, in Area B: CyberCity, which will be taking in thousands of residents and tens of billions of taxpayer shekels.

When the Area B people retire, they will set up cyber companies, registered as usual in Delaware, which they will later float on Wall Street or sell to Google or Facebook. While the vast R&D effort and risks are borne by the Israeli taxpayer, who finances CyberCity, the profits will go to these founders and their investors, who will be chanting “free market” all the way to the bank.

Area B’s slogan is that any investment in cyber returns itself big-time: it creates more cyber counterattacks, creating even greater need for cyber – and around and around it goes.

Investment in cyber is likely to set Israel back tens of billions of shekels that could be used for health care, etc. Luckily, legions of publicists realized that the word “cyber” has metaphysical properties. Discussions about overcrowded classrooms, or hospital superbugs, or impossibly high real-estate prices, or the robbery by the gas barons, are suddenly turned into white noise by the mere utterance of the word “cyber”. The word will dissipate, though it may leave behind a discomfiting hum. But the weaker the patient becomes and the blurrier his mind, that hum will eventually also disappear as the patient watches more “news” reports on television about futuristic weapons systems.

Before that annoying whine melts our minds, let us continue onto Israeli Securityland’s Area C. That is the very worst of them all: this is where the terrorism and fighting happen.

Counting coins in Area C

Area C is occupied by three hardscrabble communities. One is combat officers, who apparently number between 5% and 10% of the total number of officers in Area A; another is some tens of thousands of grunts; and the third is the reserve soldiers, also amounting to thousands, who are brought to Area C when war breaks out.

The standard of living in Area C is the lowest in Israeli Securityland. Wages have been falling farther and farther behind the cost of living in the State of Israel. The pension terms are terrible – but then, the mortality rate is pretty high, often more than in areas A and B. Israeli Securityland views these people as expendable production-line sorts with barely any economic value.

Some of the grunts indeed do meaningless jobs. In the offices of the higher Area A chiefs, one can find hundreds, thousands, of young Area C women – known in the argot as “secretaries.” The best way to guess an Area A leader’s status isn’t the bars on his shoulder or sleeve, but the number of Area C women surrounding him. The more there are, the higher the chances that this guy will wind up in politics or some cushy Area B plant.

Five o’clock is approaching like an incoming missile, and in large parts of Areas A and B the population begins to thin. In Area C (and parts of A), people will be working until the small hours. For now, it’s time to wrap up our tour.

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