These are serious and somber times for Israel. No question about it. And to make light of it would be foolish and shortsighted.
Is the situation hopeless? Absolutely not. I was, in fact, quite irritated by the piece called "Israel’s terminal illness," written by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, whom I have long respected. He simply does not understand the "Never Again" mentality of the Jewish population here. But making sure we are NOT suffering from terminal illness means confronting our national weaknesses and failures and being strong enough to fix the problems.
For me there is hope in part because of what I am seeing in the people of Israel right now, in comparison to the leaders. We as a nation have shown ourselves to be strong, brave, unselfish, caring of one another, and unified in national purpose. How, I ask myself, did such good people end up with such leaders? (And I use the words "leaders" advisedly — they are no more than purported leaders.) Figuring this out and fixing it is part of what needs to be done.
Our military/security situation is now worse than it was before the Lebanon war — which we needed to win decisively and did not. As Barry Rubin has pointed out, the cause of genuine peace in the region has been set back seriously because we have come off appearing weak, and thus vulnerable. Why negotiate with us when we can be taken down?
Some of the major problems:
Just today the Post has reported that Israel has now come to the conclusion that disarming Hezbollah is not a realistic goal — although there will be attempts to stop the rearming of Hezbollah via an embargo. What is more, Israel has likewise come to the conclusion that freeing the area south of the Litani of a Hezbollah presence is impossible because Hezbollah is so very entrenched there that it would mean evacuating the whole region. (This speaks whole volumes about the Hezbollah involvement of the so-called civilians in the area, and relates to charges that we killed numerous "innocent civilians.") Israel expects, instead, that the Lebanese army and the new UNIFIL forces will make sure Hezbollah doesn’t have offensive weapons. Quite a pathetic come down from our stated intention of protecting ourselves: we should know that we can depend on no one but ourselves.
We are undoubtedly facing some very difficult times in Gaza. PA President Mahmoud Abbas says he is now prepared to join a Hamas gov’t even if it doesn’t recognize Israel. This is an official turn around: There is no longer even the pretense within Fatah of having deals with Israel and working to negotiate with Israel. They are amassing serious weapons and absorbing the lessons of the Hezbollah guerilla approach.
It is likely that things will heat up with Syria. The pity is that we didn’t bomb Damascus while we were still fighting the Hezbollah war — for Syria is the conduit for Hezbollah arms. Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, of Military Intelligence, reported to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday that Syria would try to recover the Golan Heights, either by diplomatic or military means and is studying the Hezbollah war for guidance as to how to proceed.
There have been painful reports of the lack of preparedness of the army with regard to simple matters of equipment and supplies. Reservists are speaking out about lack of bullet proof vests and lack of training, and (incredibly!) insufficient food sent into the arenas of battle.
Most significant: Giora Eiland, a former national security advisor, has said that if Ahmadinejad were calling the shots he would be willing to "sacrifice half of Iran for the sake of eliminating Israel." Right now, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is "more reasonable" is in charge, but things could change.
Israel is watching the situation closely, uneasy about whether the U.S. will move to take out Iran’s nuclear capability. The absolute consensus within the military here is that we cannot let Iran go nuclear. We will be what we may be forced to do — not having a choice.
But the good news is that we DO have a "Never Again" mentality, and we are taking preliminary steps to correct the problems.
Members of the military are speaking out about lack of preparedness and expressing a desire to rectify the situation. This failure to be prepared came from the left-wing, "all will be well because we are giving land away and negotiating, and besides, the international community is happy with us" mentality that was no longer addressing a need to be ready for war. Ehud Olmert, in statements he made over a period of time, quintessentially expressed this foolish mentality, as he spoke about being tired of fighting our enemies and how the people want to have fun. We MUST be prepared to do battle. This is painful, but it a reality that must be faced if we are to survive. We are NOT a normal nation, we are beleaguered.
Polls show that the populace is moving strongly to the right — with both Kadima and Labor potentially losing many seats. What has to happen is that this gov’t must fall, and be replaced by a right-wing coalition of Likud, Yisrael Beteinu, National Union-NPR. We need a gov’t that will address the problems seriously, responsibly, with concern for the nation, and with integrity.
What is more, the war in Lebanon has had the effect of uniting the population in its resolve and sense of shared concern. Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin (above) said: "Syria and Hezbollah were surprised by the determined stand made by the Israeli home front during the course of the war. They expected Israel to sustain more casualties…and they expected greater chaos and disorder within Israeli society." THIS, then, is our first strength and it has been broadcast.
It should be noted that Yadlin also said that while Hezbollah is observing the ceasefire at present, tensions between their guerillas and IDF still in the field is high; the longer it takes for the multinational force to deploy, the greater the likelihood that Hezbollah will break the ceasefire. It’s possible that we’re not done here yet.
More after Shabbat…
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/8/25/posted-august-25-2006.html