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dictionaryPart 1 of a series on how Israel does Security differently


The words we use to describe, label or communicate usually reflect a larger social or cultural picture.  In the case of Israeli security, two examples of how language reflects the Israeli security culture come to mind.


First, there exists a common vocabulary about threat that everyone, over all sectors, uses.  Whether it’s the Prime Minister or an air marshal, a local policeman or the security guard at the Mall, anyone engaged in security is on the same methodological page and the terminology they all use, reflects this.  The basic Israeli method is threat-oriented, revolving around detecting suspicion indicators that relate to methods of operation of the adversary.  There are acronyms for everything.


When someone uses the term "Dapah" (acronym for adversary’s method of operation), “Samach” (acronym for suspicion indicator), “Hazama” (an acronym inside of an acronym which translates to refute the suspicion indicator), “Isuf Malam” (acronym for intelligence before an operation specifically the surveillance method of operation), or "Iyum Yehus" (threat correlate i.e. the anticipated size and configuration of a weapon that will be used against a protected environment) ….these terms are succinct, descriptive and immediately understood.  When someone uses one of these terms it means they have bought into the method and system, and that they share a point of view vis-a-vis how to defend against threats, attacks, assailants, etc.  Everyone responsible for security shares the same procedures and the same goal to determine if a threat is real and if it is, to immediately eliminate it.  They literally speak the same (security) language.


Another linguistic indicator that shows how Israel’s view of security officers may differ from that of other countries is the name for a guard.   A security guard is a mehavtehach which derives from the verb ‘to protect’ and translates to a Protector.  When you think about it, protecting encompasses more than guarding.  He was guarding the Post is a bit different than he was protecting the community.  Semantically, guarding seems less active and more confined than protecting.


Armed civilian security guards in Israel, on the other hand, carry a different title.  An armed security officer is a lohchem which comes from the word ‘to fight’, making him/her a Warrior or Fighter.  The name hints at what is expected from an armed officer whose role is forward facing, to actively engage the enemy as required.


In Seeking Engagement, Part 2 of this series, the deeply and widely held mind set of engagement is described.  Engagement in Israel is often the singular factor that mitigates terrorist attacks.  Stay tuned.