Professor Uzi Arad, the former head of Israel`s National Security Council (NSC), appeared before the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee`s Subcommittee for National Planning this week to present his outlook on the situation of the country`s national planning.

Arad reviewed the various methods of planning employed by countries and bodies around the world. ”We in Israel are [extremely] provincial. We are not familiar with the methods and we do not study them,” he told the subcommittee headed by MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp).

”Our universities are lagging behind when it comes to providing these tools. Compared with other developed countries, Israel is lagging far behind in this field,” Arad stated.

Former NSC chief Uzi Arad: Israel lagging behind other developed countries in national planning

(Prof. Uzi Arad, archive photo by Harald Dettenborn)

He further told the subcommittee that 99 percent of Israel`s best minds in the political-security field are recruited by the intelligence community, ”but intelligence is analysis, where the reality is dissected into elements, while neutralizing any emotion, in order to present a precise picture of the situation.”

”An intelligence officer must not think creatively, so their minds are like a eunuch in a harem,” he added. ”Planning is synthesis, where the elements are formulated into something else. Due to these basic differences in logic, intelligence and planning should remain close but separate.”

”Many bodies in Israel deal with forecasting, each in its own field. National planning is non-existent, and the long-term execution is derived from the State Budget, when the planning should determine the budget. Ultimate planning is making the decision to cut into the meat rather than merely separating the meat from the fat. Currently there is no one who determines [where the main efforts should be focused] on a national level.”

In England and the United States, the NSC is in charge of this issue, ”but the national strategy document was not included in the tasks of [Israel`s] the National Security Council as determined by law, and in any case the NSC is currently immersed in routine work,” Arad noted.

He suggested establishing alongside the NSC and the National Economic Council a national education, science and technology council that would concentrate the aforementioned issues. A national planning unit would be established under the umbrella of all three councils. It will consist of representatives from the three councils who will focus for a few months out of each year on objective-based national planning.

MK Shai concluded the meeting by saying, ”We will submit findings and recommendations for improving the critical issue of national planning in Israel. Professor Arad`s comments indicate that the State of Israel recognizes the need for national planning but lacks the necessary tools for it. In any case, the diplomatic establishment is lagging behind the security establishment, which has the ability to look towards the future. The NSC, in its current state, cannot fulfill the crucial role of national planning. We are leaving this meeting upset, but it will definitely be an important stage when we will recommend in the future how to improve the situation.”