Learning from the Failure of Israeli Intelligence in 2023: Dissenting Opinions in a bureaucracy

The ruling paradigm within Israeli intelligence was that Hamas had been somewhat coopted into a temporary but stable silent agreement to live alongside Israel, aided by Qatari money and periodic minor saber rattling.

One of the so- called “lessons learned” from the catastrophic failure of Israeli to prevent the Hamas invasion was that a “dissenting opinion” from the prevailing paradigm (that Hamas would not attack) within the military and intelligence community was not well tolerated. As a result, warned signs of impending doom were dismissed.

These events are a playback of 1973, when the Egyptians invaded Israel and for a time drove back the IDF. The 1973 lessons learned exercise was as follows:  there was a ruling paradigm (the Egyptians would not dare attack us) from which the Israelis could not see beyond which blinded Israel to the events which unfolded.

These paradigms in Hebrew are called: “conseptsia”, i.e. -preconceptions.

Again and again, the dangers that these paradigms pose are acknowledged and known to all; decisions are made to self-inoculate against such perilous rigidity of thought.

However, the ability of large organizations to tolerate dissenting opinions is non-existent. Let me explain why via a possible example.

A, B, C and D are all senior officers in Unit W-which monitors noise patterns picked up from underground tunnels in the south. Unit W’s commander, named himself W, believes that the noises in the tunnel stem from construction work being done to strengthen the tunnel, not expand it. A disagrees. A believes that within the tunnel, a railway track is being laid and the tunnel itself is being elongated and is thus a strategic threat which needs to be eradicated immediately.

W is about to be retire. W has a long legacy he wants to protect. B, C, and D have always agreed with W’s assumptions, and kissed his arse, as needed, to get promoted. W served as  B, C and D’s winning horse, as it were. These mediocre yes-men were dragged up by kowtowing to W’s complacency or rigidity.

A, the dissenter, if chosen to replace W, will only make W’s legacy into a laughing stock, by making a lot of noise to better verify what’s going on and rectify it.

B got W’s job.

A remained “side-show Bob”.

This is an inherent unchangeable dynamic in a large bureaucracy.  Bureaucracies have NO tolerance for self-correction from internal dissention.

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