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The war is being managed badly. Intelligence is faulty, the army is clumsy and uncreative. The prime minister is not addressing the nation properly; the foreign minister is not addressing the world at all. The entire national leadership - civilian and military - is perceived as lacking inspiration, lacking direction and lacking focus. As a result, one aggressive Israeli maneuver follows another aggressive Israeli maneuver, without logic, without order and without a defined strategic objective. By the by, Israel is taking a heavy beating. The initiative is in the hands of Hezbollah. The haughty arrogance of the Israeli leadership does not convey strength, but rather weakness.

But the main problem is political. Israel is currently waging the most just war in its history. Not a war of occupation, but rather a war of defense. Not a settlements war, but rather a Green Line war. A war over the validity of an international border that was drawn, defined and recognized by the United Nations. Therefore, anyone who yearns for Israel to withdraw in future from occupied territories to recognized permanent borders must stand by Israel in this war. Anyone who wants peace, stability and an end to the occupation must back up Israel in its just war. The alternative is a violent and hemorrhaging Middle East chaos.

This simple and clear political truth is neither understandable nor clear today to anyone in the international community. Not even to the United States. And when you wage a 21st-century war whose political and moral rationale is vague and blurred, there is no chance of winning it. Failure is not an option; failure is a certainty.

This being the case, the war should be started over: Hold fire. Declare a unilateral cease-fire for 72 hours. Make the international community responsible for resolving the problem of the northern border by nonviolent means within that period. Make it clear that Israel is not an unthinking bully that lashes out in every direction, but rather a responsible, orderly country, which is demanding that a zealous terrorist organization be removed from its border, that it stop threatening the lives of Israel's citizens and that it release the soldiers it kidnapped entirely unprovoked from Israel's sovereign territory.

Such a cease-fire, accompanied by an all-out political and informational campaign, would restore to Israel the moral high ground it lost over the past few days, when it attacked airport runways, bridges and civilian buildings. Such a cease-fire would enable the Israel Defense Forces to plan thoroughly and meticulously a crushing and focused military campaign that will lead to Hezbollah's defeat.

It would enable the establishment of an emergency cabinet that would include Ehud Barak as the master-strategist, Benjamin Netanyahu as the master-explicator, and Yossi Beilin as the new ambassador of Israeli resoluteness. But, above all, the cease-fire would serve to redefine what is now mistakenly perceived as a savage war between two savage and bloodthirsty tribes. It would serve to make clear to Israel's civilians, to Israel's soldiers and to the international community what we are killing for in this war, and for what we are being killed. We are killing and being killed for our border. We are killing and being killed for our liberty. We are killing and being killed for our very existence as a free society.