Removing Israelis' opaque binoculars
The Israeli public should recognize not just the benefits of the Iron Dome, but also the political, non-military worldview that gave rise to it.
Amid the media chatter and critiques by politicians and uber-analysts, whose ability to predict what might happen is no better than that of Haim from the corner grocery store, it can be difficult to recognize the destructive process toward which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are dragging the country: the systematic destruction of Israeli sovereignty.
It's hard to understand how an independent country with one of the strongest and most seasoned armies in the world could become - especially in its own eyes - one big community of Jews subject to the eternal harassment of evil, hostile goyim, and which has no chance of altering its fate.
Netanyahu and Barak know full well that one cannot deter a terrorist organization, but can only reinforce its existing beliefs even further. They know that every assassinated commander of an artillery battery will be replaced by a new commander who is angrier than his predecessor; that the nearby enemy territory and the population living in distress there have more time and patience than the Israeli population, which generally enjoys pretty good conditions; and that whatever is achieved in a secret agreement next week could have been achieved a year ago as well.
Both leaders also realize the absurdity of the last few years, during which time the Israeli population has been willing to accept quite a lot of sirens, and risks, but suddenly wakes up when it comes to the death of soldiers on the battlefield. And despite all this, the people are being dragged, truly against their will (for to what extent is it possible to make threats into the abyss? ), into a ground incursion. Perhaps there are those who know how such an incursion would begin, but no one knows how it would end, and it's better not to even imagine what it would do to both sides.
And I haven't yet said a word about the tiresome ritual of the world's response. In the first few days they support Israel's right to defend itself, and after a week and a few shocking images of dead children, they start pressuring us to stop acting unruly.
Netanyahu and Barak are looking at reality through military binoculars that, while they may be fancy and sophisticated, are also opaque. This opaqueness appears to be difficult to discern; otherwise, how could it be that the entire political system, including the Labor Party leadership, is so thrilled to be looking through them? The one group that is sounding a different note is Meretz, the party that remembers it is in the opposition. Unfortunately, most Israeli citizens prefer to peer at the world through the same binoculars as their leaders, rendering them incapable of seeing reality as it truly is.
The home front has been relatively quiet for the past week thanks to Iron Dome, without which our corpses would be laid out in the streets and morgues in long rows. When the Iron Dome system was proposed, Barak and the analysts on his side opposed this method of defense so much that they delegitimized the defense minister who fought for it, through the despicable photograph of Amir Peretz attempting to look through covered binoculars.
Slowly, we Israelis are beginning to realize that these anti-missile missiles are not just saving thousands of civilians but are also allowing the military and the government to operate. What has yet to seep into the consciousness of the Israeli public is that Iron Dome is just one part of an entire political path that Peretz proposed when he led the left, a path that we seem banned from discussing today, at least as long as the rockets are exploding and the military vehicles are warming up their engines.
When Peretz ran for chairman of the Labor Party, he rightly considered joining up with Meretz and creating a left-wing bloc. Unlike the current Labor leader, Shelly Yacimovich - who, in the best tradition of her party, is not doing anything to keep Netanyahu and Barak from dragging Israel into a dark dead-end street - Peretz raised the prospect of peace talks and a civilian way of thinking, in the face of the murky water of the isolated nationalism in which Israel chooses to bathe.
It has never before been so crucial to rescue Israel from the disaster toward which it is being dragged, but this can happen only when the public recognizes not just the benefits of Iron Dome, but also the political, non-military worldview that gave rise to it. The question is whether we will have the courage to take the covers off the binoculars before catastrophe strikes.