A Crisis of Those Being Led

The time has come to examine the possibility that the leadership crisis is only the consequence of the Second Lebanon War. The real problem is that there is a crisis of those being led.

The discussion about the Second Lebanon War has gone on for a year and half, and the debate has focused on all the wrong things. For example, it is claimed that the country is suffering from a leadership crisis. This claim is based on the assumption that the public is always okay, because it is impossible to replace the people. The home front is always okay, the soldiers are always okay, the parents are always okay, our children are always okay, and we cannot make any demands of the public.

The time has come to examine the possibility that the leadership crisis is only the consequence. The real problem is that there is a crisis of those being led.

One can argue that a people usually gets the leaders it deserves. And it is not clear why the dwellers of Zion believe that they deserve a better leader than Ehud Olmert.

A public that believes that everyone has the right, first of all, to tend to his own affairs gets a leader who tends to his real estate affairs. A people that has abandoned its values gets a leader who probably has forgotten the days when he used to fight organized crime. A society that has forgotten what sacrifice and fulfillment mean, and whose greatest concern is that its sons do not turn out to be "suckers," gets leaders who could win the world championship of "Survivor."

Here are a few other things whose time has come to be discussed (and they have nothing to do with deposing leaders). Is it really the state's role to fortify everything and evacuate everyone? From the North? From the South? According to this logic, will it be the state's role to position a guard at the entrance of every bus if the terror attacks resume in Jerusalem? Will it be obliged to fortify Ashdod when they start to fire Katyusha rockets from Gaza, or Gush Dan when the rockets begin to come in from the West Bank?

How is it that we are prepared to give so little to the state and expect so much in return? Hasn't the time come to realize that the state is only what we put into it, and that it is impossible to expect it to do everything, and that it must set priorities, even in protecting us? When it becomes very profitable to be a fortifications contractor, will enough money remain to cope with the crisis in education?

After the terror attack in Dimona, that town's mayor, Meir Cohen, told the Knesset Interior Committee: "We don't have the time or desire to wallow in misery and self-pity. The city is strong and we are not going around with a sense of weepiness." One can ask: Why is such a lucid voice so uncommon?

The time has come to admit that contrary to the myth the public sells itself, the home front is not robust and contains quite a few islands of weakness, and that our ability to absorb blows is not very impressive. We will always think that their firing missiles at us constitutes a failure, rather than an obvious consequence of war. We will always declare: "Someone has to pay."

But if someone always has to pay, no one will want to assume command over our wars, certainly not the truly best people. The time has come to examine the contention by Prof. Shlomo Breznitz, a world expert on stress situations, that the national and media ceremonies of mourning that follow every fatality do not strengthen us, but weaken us. Indeed, even the media would do well to engage in some introspection.

We should remind ourselves that the army's role is to protect the home front, and the home front's role is not to absorb blows to protect the army. It is true that in a borderless state like Israel, this crazy confusion of concepts is almost logical. But it is impossible to ignore that the state is absorbing countless rockets and mortar shells and does not go to war until someone dares to snatch our soldiers. It is also impossible to ignore that we have repeatedly postponed the ground operation, which is aimed to stop the rocket fire, to avoid harm to our soldiers. This is really a world turned upside down.

One could argue that these words reflect a "Replace the people" syndrome. This is not the intention. Rather, the public has failed by displaying weakness on the home front and battlefront, in its weepiness and hysteria, and in its herd-like behavior. It also needs to take responsibility, learn the lessons and take steps to improve itself where needed.

All of these things must be dealt with (though there is little chance this will happen) before Hezbollah and Hamas remind us again why national strength is so essential.