A Land That Devours Its Inhabitants

In another 50 years, when historians research our present history, they will find it difficult to explain the celebration of self-flagellation that has overcome Israelis.

In another 50 years, when historians research our present history, they will find it difficult to explain the celebration of self-flagellation that has overcome Israelis. They will probably try to understand what virus was responsible for the witch hunt, the belligerence, the terrible exaggeration, the waves of hatred and schadenfreude that characterized such a broad sector of Israeli society - almost to the point of public psychosis. It is hard to believe that they will be satisfied with the explanation that this poisoned public atmosphere was a justified and necessary result of the objective outcome of the second Lebanon war.

Something very bad is happening to us, something very dangerous. It was enough to listen recently to the words of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah - who expressed his delight at the resignation of Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and said this was proof of Hezbollah's strategic victory - to understand that this behavior is destructive.

Since the end of the war in Lebanon, politicians and many members of the media have joined forces in a huge effort to make us aware that Israel suffered the worst defeat in its history in that war, and that it was nothing but a colossal disaster and failure. This effort has been borne on a wave of unrestrained slander and incitement against the chief of staff, the political leadership and the senior echelon of the Israel Defense Forces. It has been accompanied by the boundless belligerence of politicians, mainly from the extreme left and the extreme right with the help of some of the media - and, yes, even though such a statement is not politically correct, from a small number of bereaved parents as well. The effort has apparently won great success, but that does not change the fact that this presentation of the war and its outcome is a lie. And as our sages said "lasheker ein raglayim" - literally: "A lie doesn't have feet."

Everyone knows that in the second Lebanon war there were shortcomings, failures and mistakes among all the ranks; nobody is suggesting that they be whitewashed. They must be investigated, lessons must be learned and we must fix whatever requires reparation. In certain cases there is definitely room for personal conclusions to be drawn. But this is a far cry from the extreme presentation of the war as a Hezbollah victory, as an Israeli defeat, as a national catastrophe alongside which the Yom Kippur pales in comparison.

I will not cite the local leaders - and not even prominent personalities who aren't part of the establishment - who have pointed out that Hezbollah was badly beaten and that Israel chalked up significant achievements both in the military and diplomatic spheres, even if not all of its aims were achieved.

Just as important in my opinion are the words written by top scholars in Egypt immediately at the end of the war: They did not attribute a glorious victory to Israel, but they unequivocally stated that Hezbollah had suffered a severe blow and its status had been weakened. The truth is that even Nasrallah understood immediately at the end of the battles that he was the one who had been beaten in the war, although of course he claimed otherwise, and therefore apologized to the Lebanese people - until the Israelis came along and convinced him that he was the big victor.

In this war there were tough battles; had they been conducted differently it might have been possible to prevent some of the losses among our soldiers. This fact is very painful, but regretfully there has not yet been a war without such battles. That is the curse of war. However, even the great and understandable pain does not justify the call for blood and the campaign of hatred and incitement that was conducted against the chief of staff. That is not how a normal nation behaves toward its chief of staff, and the role of the media in this iniquity is great. It may be that the chief of staff had to resign, but not in such an atmosphere. It's not the war that has affected Israel's power of deterrence; we are affecting it ourselves.

The spies who wanted to arouse loathing of the Land of Israel among the nation called it "a land that devours its inhabitants." Let us hope that we, after enjoying the privilege of returning to it and establishing the Jewish state on it, will not turn it into such a land.