Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cry, Beloved Country!

Israel Harel's 'take' on the State of the Country. So true, so true, so tragically true:

Bewitched nation
By Israel Harel

In the midst of the Jewish holiday of heroics, Hanukkah, we were once again warned of the Iranian bomb. One gets a creeping suspicion that sounding the bomb alert was meant to hide the government's shortcomings in view of the Qassam rockets and Katyushas.There is no doubt Iran would be happy if we disappeared from the face of the earth. But why should it mess with the Western world by dropping a nuclear bomb when the Jews are withdrawing from the Palestinians, who are attacking them at home, and displaying helplessness in face of Hezbollah, in Lebanon. When the Jews lose the will to fight, it's better to continue the war of attrition than use the bomb.

OC Northern Command Major General Udi Adam clearly expressed, on Tuesday, Israel's lack of desire to fight to win, which has become a national behavioral pattern in recent decades, especially against the terror organizations at home. Asked what needs to be done about the Katyusha fire, he responded: The Lebanese government must impose its authority. When Qassam rockets are simultaneously fired toward a training base in Zikim, a kindergarten in Kibbutz Sa'ad and strategic facilities on the outskirts of Ashkelon, one does not know whether to laugh or cry because we have forgotten nothing and learned nothing. Here is a commander in the Israel Defense Forces saying it is the enemy's responsibility, not his own, to prevent fire in the region whose security he is in charge of.

The empty warnings Shaul Mofaz is making regarding the Qassam fire also prove Israel's decision makers, both civilian and military, have blinded themselves. When they don't utter a single true phrase about the severity of the situation - and about the reasons for it - we should be worried about another thing. How have the politicians, as well as some military men, managed to deceive a considerable part of the nation into giving up the right to think? These people have put the independence of their decisions in the hands of gamblers, who are willing to bet with the nation's fate, sometimes for merely personal reasons, such as the decision on the disengagement.

In Oslo the IDF was involved in the political debate when it knowingly helped advance the very controversial political moves. Recently, when the IDF hitched itself to Ariel Sharon's political wagon and applied force against Israeli civilians in Gush Katif, the borders separating army and politics were blurred even further. No wonder Major General Adam, instead of speaking in the only language the Katyusha launchers understand - the language of force - explained that there are "many reasons" for firing Katyushas. He analyzed the situation in Syria, Lebanon and the terror organizations. And, of course, he did not mention the single and main reason the rocket fire continues, despite Israel's "great capabilities": Israel's inaction has eroded its ability to deter Palestinian militants from firing missiles at its settlements.In the conformist Israeli discourse, in which the IDF heads play a major role, this reason does not exist at all.

The nocturnal flight from Lebanon, and even more so the unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif after more than four years of terror war, caused inestimable damage to Israel's deterrence power. Even previously, in the intifada, this ability was revealed to be limited and hesitant, and this is exactly the point. Israel does have "great capabilities," but the systemic weakness - due to loss of confidence in the rightness of its way - leaves these paralyzed.

At the beginning of the week one of the commanders of the Islamic Jihad was interviewed by Shlomi Eldar of Channel 10 News. He analyzed, with sharp clarity, the process of Israeli deterioration. First, he said, we fought with stones, and you said with stones you can't beat an army. After you were worn out and did not respond to stones, we started shooting. Then you said you'd stop it within a few days. So apparently you couldn't, or didn't want to. Afterward we started the suicide bombings and you said they were not strategically dangerous. Then we began shooting the Qassams, and you said, what can Qassams do. And now, with improved Qassams we are already firing on Ashkelon.

There were Israelis who warned, at each of those stages, that fleeing from terror will lead to increased terror, that Oslo was not a peace initiative but derived from the army's and civilians' moral erosion in the stone war. So was the fence building, which was a surrender to frightened public opinion, manipulated by politicians and economic interest parties, and of course the unilateral pullout from Gush Katif.But an entire state has fallen under the spell of pullouts and defensive measures and does not want to listen to the voice of sanity. And now too, as the acceptance of the absurd reactions to the Qassams and Katyushas proves, the spell has not worn off.


Zalman said...

see Ben Chorin's post on Aumann's game theory:

westbankmama said...

I think that there are quite a lot of people who want to fight back - but are either afraid to speak up or are not listened to when they do.

When Operation Defensive Shield started, there were more people showing up for duty than they had room for.

There will be a political backlash soon - when people wake up from the "it's ok, Sharon is tough and will take care of everything" lullabye.