Israel has not been defeated in Lebanon because it has not bombed sufficiently and has not destroyed enough. Only self-censorship and the mystification of the Israel Defense Forces for many years have prevented the Israelis from learning what the IDF did to the Lebanese, and what the IDF's conceptual limitations are, as an organization whose strength is great and whose wisdom is definitely not. Only the insufferable status of the IDF in Israeli society has prevented Israelis who emerged by tooth and nail from the Lebanon War from pointing to the senior officers and saying: Enough.
Let us imagine the directors of Remedia (the importer of deficient baby formula that led to the death of three infants in 2003) explaining on television how to feed infants, or the engineers of the Versailles wedding hall (which collapsed during a May 2001 wedding that led to the death of 23 people) in Jerusalem explaining safety procedures. No one would let them finish a sentence. However, from the moment two reserve soldiers were abducted on the northern border - in the midst of killing in the Gaza Strip that is being conducted in a way similar to the destruction in Lebanon - the television channels defined the incident on the border as a crisis of the first rank, and generals from the previous war, the one that lasted for 16 years, and the fruits of which we are eating now, were brought respectfully to the studios.
How quickly we have forgotten the long occupation in southern Lebanon, how every entrance of a new major general into the position of GOC Northern Command was accompanied by promises of a comprehensive change in the "strategy." Major generals come and go and the IDF "strategy" has continued to be perceived as an expansion of the "tactics": more people killed and more shells and more strikes against civilians (see the horrors of Gaza). No one imagines that there is something wrong with the entire conception. Does the IDF's responsibility really boil down only to that soldiers have been abducted and killed on their watch (that is, ultimately only the captives and the killed are to blame?). Does the very need to transform a border incident, grave as it might be, into a causus bellum by means of chatter about "the eroded deterrent power" worthy of an accounting?
And therefore, in the studio sits Major General (Res.) Yossi Peled, one of the heroes of that war, which in military language is called "the Operation for the Peace of Galilee," and preaches: "What will happen afterward, I don't know, but I do know that it is necessary to kill as many Hezbollahs as possible now." He, and the other generals who are commentating on media channels, were in Lebanon and participated not only in the destruction of that country and in the most bitter defeat the IDF ever absorbed, but also in the engendering of Hezbollah.
The current war, then, not only cannot provide a real answer to Israel's problems, but also is being carried out by the same echelon of officers that was defeated in Lebanon, and with whom the accounts for that war have yet to be settled. Books were written, a protest movement arose, an investigative commission about one massacre was conducted, a defense minister who eventually became prime minister was convicted, and even though he is lying unconscious somewhere, his consciousness is apparently serving his pale shadows - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Justice Minister Haim Ramon and Co. - and another generation of impassioned youngsters is growing up around us and screaming over the Internet: "Stick it to them." Afterward, as they sit in the burning vehicles, perhaps in Syria, and the phrase "land mine" returns to the erased dictionary of the past, when they cry out "We want to go home," they won't have the sense to bequeath the recoiling from war to the next generation. That's because on television there still will be the same generals, with the same conception, with the same short and limited range of strategic understanding, and they will win the same enthusiasm from the public that just wants to "stick it to them."
The director of the American Jewish Committee's Israel/Middle East Office, Eran Lerman, is already recommending going to war against Syria. Anyone who is listening to talk about the need to attack Syria (in the name of "strategy") realizes that for those people, "strategy" means enlarging the circle of hostilities, including harming civilians. What Israel's "strategists" have to offer is the destruction of yet another country. Let us set aside the generation that is growing up in front of the television. Let us set aside the horrors that are being carried out in the name of all of us. It is enough to see the destruction of Iraq and its results. The Americans do not intend to live in this region, but we do live here. And did the trigger finger in the North think about the victims in the North, about the fate of the captives? No. This trigger finger thought in terms of "who will stick more to whom." Who can restrain the army? Only Israeli opposition. The heads of the army are even warning of such opposition. That is, it is not yet too late.
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