A Glossary of Delusions

I told you so. After every crisis, 'Lieutenant I knew it,' who warned about it ahead of time, or initiated a diplomatic plan that could have prevented it, surfaces. In the current war, the resident alarmist was Giora Eiland.

I told you so. After every crisis, 'Lieutenant I knew it,' who warned about it ahead of time, or initiated a diplomatic plan that could have prevented it, surfaces. In the current war, the resident alarmist was Giora Eiland, the former national security adviser. Eiland suggested to both Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert that Israel withdraw from the Shaba Farms, release Lebanese prisoners and refrain from flyovers of Lebanon, in return for the Lebanese Army's deployment along the length of the border. His proposal was rejected. But who can prove that it would have prevented the abduction of the soldiers? Or led to the disarming of Hassan Nasrallah's rockets? Or that Syria, which has thus far thwarted every attempt at achieving a separate Israeli-Lebanese arrangement, would have consented this time? The same is true for the military, which blames Sharon for not attacking Hezbollah. Who knows whether military operations then would have been more successful than military operations now? It is impossible to prove "what would have happened if."

There were warnings. When a war breaks out, there is a sudden emergence of people who discerned warning signs - those who collected tidbits from horoscopes in a remote local newspaper in Iran, or from Syrian gossip columns, or from Nostrodamus's prophecies, and found that they predicted the crisis in advance. How, they wonder, could Military Intelligence and the prime minister have missed the signs? They were so obvious! It is only a pity that the signs materialize after the fact, after the war has erupted. It is much harder to detect them ahead of time, when they are hovering in a sea of less relevant facts.

These stories stem from the human need to find a logical explanation for surprising events. And they pop up after the fact, when it is too late to fix things, for a simple reason: The present recreates the past and generates a different understanding of yesterday?s events. When you know the result, it is easy to find the reasons.

It is all in our hands. According to this delusion, Israel determines everything in the region, and whatever happens stems exclusively from Israel's actions and shortcomings. The Palestinians, Syrians and Iranians are merely automatons who react to Israel's actions. The left's version focuses on aggressive actions: Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount caused the intifada, the settlements are responsible for the conflict, the war in Lebanon created Hezbollah. The right's version places the blame on withdrawals and concessions: The Oslo Agreement sparked terrorism, leaving Lebanon sparked the second intifada, and the disengagement from Gaza led to the second Lebanon war. This, too, of course, is impossible to prove, and it all depends on the observer?s perspective. Did Lebanon "cause the intifada," or did the frustrated Palestinians rise up because of their anger at Israel?

Nostalgia. How nice it would be to return to the old world of before the crisis, to the days when reality corresponded to ideology. The right longs for the greater Israel of "the pre-Oslo days," and the left longs for the small and just Israel of "the days before the occupation" - as if it were possible to go back to either one. In the absence of a time tunnel, this yearning is just an expression of frustration.

The international community. Over the last two to three years, a new ritual has evolved in Israel. Instead of the approach of the Ben-Gurion era - "what matters is what the Jews do, not what the gentiles say" - we now believe that the "international community" is our savior from the conflict with the Arabs. This time, we are hoping that a foreign force will fight instead of the Israel Defense Forces against Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Rafah. For the most part, we ask the world "to apply pressure" on Syria, Iran, Mahmoud Abbas, and others so that they will act differently. If that does not help, and it usually does not, Israel will at least be viewed as a desirable partner for the "good guys" against the "bad guys," and the foreign ministers of other countries will be able to demonstrate "involvement" - which is another word for "hot air."