In Praise of the Lebanon War

Granted, only two and a half months have gone by since the end of the second Lebanon war, but we need no further perspective to grasp the full scale of its achievements.

Granted, only two and a half months have gone by since the end of the second Lebanon war, but we need no further perspective to grasp the full scale of its achievements. Already now, it is clear that it was a successful war - not only one of the most justified of Israel's wars, as was noted when it began, but also one of the most successful, as must be admitted at its conclusion. Only incorrigible defeatists and incurable doomsayers will fail to sing its praises. No wonder, then, that the calls for a state commission of inquiry now sound like the faint echo of a distant howling at the moon. Down with the critics!

Here is the story: The Lebanon war removed the realignment in the West Bank, in the name of which Kadima asked for the public's confidence and received 29 Knesset seats, from the national agenda. Let us be serious people, for a change, and accept the postwar reality with satisfaction: The realignment has been expelled from our lives for all time, just as the Egyptian mother and her little boy were expelled to wander in the desert. Good riddance to that can of worms. It would have created a terrible headache, and the ache might have been stronger than the head.

A smart war does not leave a vacuum. Even as it erases one agenda, it is already filling the empty space and drafting a new agenda that is far more desirable for Israel. Instead of uprooting what has been planted in Judea and Samaria, we are planting the uprooted - people and trees; instead of destroying communities, we are rehabilitating destroyed communities with great momentum; instead of investing in the territories for the sake of evacuation, we are investing in the Galilee for the sake of construction. The Holy One did right by us in granting us this war, which is enabling the government to reorganize its order of priorities. This is not the time for internal disputes; this is the time for unity in the ranks. For if not now, when?

The Lebanon war is granting us the opportunity to reap its profits on other fronts as well - another proven achievement. On our northern border, the Arabs' true intentions, of annihilating us, have again been revealed. Israel, of course, will not be able to agree to the creation of a similar threat in the Gaza Strip. Remember what Hezbollah did to us and do not forget what it is incumbent upon us to do to the Palestinian every day, including holidays. Strike at them and strike at them, for we have become fed up with their being there, and here. The lessons of Lebanon bolster our right and duty to kill Palestinians and not to rest, and it is only a matter of not very much time before we return to the Philadelphi Road, and the road will wag the Strip, which will soon be reoccupied completely. Not only is Ehud Olmert's next realignment a thing of the past; Ariel Sharon's previous realignment will be annulled.

We would not have been able to restore the crown of Gaza's former glory had our eyes not been opened by Lebanon's gory present. Nor could we have expanded the line of settlements in the West Bank or even left illegal outposts intact without interference, or received Ephraim Sneh in the Defense Ministry, at long last.

The Lebanon war, it must be remembered - and we need to be reminded - erupted so that we could redeem our soldiers from captivity. The protracted story of the three abducted soldiers is a sad tale. Nevertheless, we must not deny its positive aspects: As long as Gilad Shalit is in the hands of his abductors, no negotiations with the Palestinians will begin: "That is unconscionable." True, negotiations have not been held for eons, and the promised but nonexistent meeting with Mahmoud Abbas is not even visible on the farthest horizon, but at least now, there is a reason.

And our achievements vis-a-vis our enemies pale in the face of our achievements vis-a-vis ourselves. Would it have been possible to expand the government and house within it self-perceived opposites without the paralyzing and silencing fear that was visited upon us? Would it have been possible to sanitize Avigdor Lieberman and initiate him into the community of decision makers? Would it have been possible, with a single stroke, to liquidate Amir Peretz both as defense minister and as chairman of the Labor Party? Would it have been possible to isolate Benjamin Netanyahu and leave him solitary outside the fence, with his tongue wagging? None of this would have happened without the war.

And that is not all. The war left the state comptroller with his hands full of work, so much so that he apparently has no time to complete investigations that were launched with great fanfare. Are they now fading away, on a dying note? The police, too, are tarrying with their investigations, as though feeling harassed. So how will we know in good time whether the first among equals and the equals themselves are equal or unequal? How will we know whether any of those who are at the starting line in the race for the presidency used incentive money illegally? Maybe they will be given blood tests, and then we will know for sure to whom they are related and why.

When outside threats intensify, domestic threats tend to be ignored. True, there are some oddballs among us who view corruption as a strategic threat, but even they would hesitate to entrust the treatment to the person who was placed in charge of the big threats this week. In the name of the government, we give thanks for this war, which came just at the right moment, and at the eleventh hour has restored sanity to its place and made it possible "to see things in proportion."

Similarly, the self-appointed examination committees, which were vilified for no good reason, are gradually being revealed as the right decision. By the nature of their creation and the pace of their work, they promise the politicians and the generals long years in their posts, and that is also for the good. Governmental stability is no small thing, and it is important to maintain it. And in contrast to the rotten custom that prevailed here for many years, even the lowly guard will not get the boot this time.

Let us sum up: The Lebanon war left 156 dead - 117 soldiers and 39 civilians - and about 4,200 wounded. But in light of this overall positive balance, who would dare any longer to cast doubt on its justification and success? Who would dare to be so cruel as to say that the victims died in vain? The dead commanded life to Olmert and his government, a long and good life.