Lebanon, One Year After
The coming July 12 will be the first anniversary of what is officially called The Second Lebanon War. The passage of a year is premature for 20/20 hindsight, but not too early for a general reflection. Of my interest is less what happened in the battlefield (not because I don’t care, but because I’m not knowledgeable about military details), but in the arena of thoughts and opinions. The war of minds, in other words.
To hear tell any Western Leftist, the war was about the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah. The fact that they think so is the beginning and end of the failure of that war: it underpins the “Disproportionate Response” accusation that brought President Bush, at first supportive of Israel’s right to wipe out the terrorist organization at its northern border, to pressure Israel to accept a ceasefire agreement courtesy of the corrupt, Jew-hating United Nations.
The truth is the abduction of the two soldiers was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It had been preceded by nearly one year of Kassam rockets on Israel’s towns, foremostly Sderot, from within the same Gaza Strip that Israel had made judenrein for the sake of peace. No other state would tolerate rocket fire on its towns from within the border, no matter how “primitive” those rockets are. So when a new front was opened in addition, the northern front in July 12, 2006, the people and the leadership of Israel decided enough was enough.
Olmert’s downfall is—in hindsight even more than at the moment of happening—painful to watch. When he undertook the war, with full force, he had the full approval of the Israeli Jewish citizens, and his speech on the necessity of defending Israel at all costs was greeted with deafening applause (yes, such could be heard even on TV). His acceptance of the US-pressured, UN-authored ceasefire agreement marked the beginning of his political end. Had he ignored all pressure, had he pushed on until Hizbullah’s demise, he would have gone down in the history of Israel as one of her greatest, his portrait standing beside that of Levi Eshkol, victor of the Six-Day War. But he caved in to world opinion and pressure, and thereafter became the opposite of that applause-winning speaker: not only having left Hizbullah standing, but refusing to lift a finger to Sderot’s aid, and toying with all manner of insane “peace initiatives”. Min igra rama l’vera amikta (“From a high roof to a deep pit”, in Aramaic) in a twinkling.
The opinion pieces of the Muslim world picked up on this almost immediately after the war: “The countdown to the end of the Zionist project has begun” (G-d forbid), blared one of their newspapers. Instead of being a magnificent demonstration of how jihad does not pay by wiping out Hizbullah, the Second Lebanon War joined that long string of Israeli signs of weakness that goes back to 1993 (the Oslo Accords). This has global significance as well, because Islamic jihad is not limited to Israel, no matter how the “Palestinian” fakery may make it look that way: Hizbullah’s ability to stay up in the face of a strong army was proof to jihadis everywhere that they could do it. They learned from it that they could achieve physical victory by working the media, with propaganda in the form of dead bodies of children whom they themselves had put in the line of fire for that very purpose.
We cannot change what happened in the past, so bemoaning that unfortunate war should not be carried to a further extent that necessary. On this note, let me attempt to find some points of light in that episode, a try at making lemonade from that lemon. I can think of three good things that came out of it:
First, the war made manifest the asymmetry of the warring sides in the War On Islam, an asymmetry created by the total lack of any morality on the Muslims’ part. Hizbullah won by not ruling out any subterfuge: staging, photoshopping and sacrificing one’s own women and children. The complicity of Western media with the Muslim aggressors was also shown the light of day. Though the leadership is still with its head in the post-colonial sand, the younger generation watching this war knows two things now: 1) International law needs to be discarded if there is to be any hope of victory over the Muslims in the future; 2) The first step to take in any future war against the Muslims is to make the battlefield a no-reporter zone, except for reporters sanctioned by our side, with the promise of shooting anyone who violates that law. When the current leaders are replaced by one who is imbued with these truths, the beginning of salvation will be at hand. The question is not “if” but “when”.
Second, the war showed us Jews who our friends are and who our enemies, and not just on the physical battlefield. I was glued to the blogosphere at that time, and one of the things that prompted me to launch my blog was to see all the Jew-haters crawl out of their rocks at the scene of the war. Otherwise “evenhanded” lefty posters could be seen to sprout full-fledged Jew-hating feathers at the sight of the staged Qana massacre. If there is a lesson here, a lesson I’m sure many on our side have not failed to learn, it is that the old, visceral Jew-hatred, be it dressed as finely as it could in its shiny new anti-Zionist dress, is always there, just waiting for an opportunity to erupt, a justification to make it totally acceptable and righteous-sounding. Thus we have learned that world opinion must be ignored, and our right to defend ourselves comes first. To the Islamonazis and their Leftist sympathizers no quarter!
Third and most important was the behavior of the Israeli Jewish public during the war. All that time, the Jews were brothers and helpers toward one another; the volunteer organizations for aid for both the north and south were flooded with requests; all the internal strifes and rivalries ceased, switched off for the sake of the pressing need, the purpose of helping one another, for all of Israel are responsible for each other, and if Jews do not aid each other, no one else will; the feeling of “all in the same boat” was universal.
This is the true Nation of Israel. In times of political bickering, sex scandals, ineffective leaders and sectarian rivalries, the truth of the Second Lebanon War must be remembered: how we behaved then is how Jews truly are toward one another, rachmanim, baishanim, gomlei chasadim (merciful, bashful and given to acts of charity). Though in ordinary days it is tempting to think the old traits are no longer with us, that war showed otherwise: underneath it all, no matter to what faction they belong, the true Jew is still there. It is in the secular Jew who relentlessly thrashes the Internet with responses to the lies; it is in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbi who, no matter what his thoughts about the original Secular Zionism might be, orders his followers to pray for the IDF (when I heard of that back then, I burst into tears); it is in the Diaspora Jew who makes aliyah to Israel in order to be on the scene in the time of need; it is in Jews of all stripes and colors and upbringings ready to host refugees from the katyushas of the northern borders in their homes.
This, O HaShem, this, no matter what the appearances and lapses are, this is Your People! This is Your Nation Israel, the sons of Jacob, unchanged after all those years! This is the nation of those who received Your Torah, and, no matter their level of observance, this is proof that they are the same people inside!
O HaShem, having thus heard my defense of Your people, may it be favorable unto You to send them Your salvation soon; show Your power, bringing our enemies signs to show them they must repent, so that if they do not repent, wipe them off the face of the earth. Amen and amen!