Of Turkeys and Indians

The rescue efforts have not yet ended, and we have already begun our armchair quarterbacking. An entire battalion of "whys" was dispatched to Mumbai - perhaps it was a commando force.

We are restless in the face of their helplessness: 1.1 billion people, and they can do no more than this. We, just 7 million, and our hubris is legendary.

The rescue efforts have not yet ended, and we have already begun our armchair quarterbacking: Why did it go on for so long, why are they such amateurs, why didn't they have prior intelligence, why didn't they agree to accept outside help - from Israel, for example - why couldn't they control the surrounding disorder, why did they announce prematurely that the fighting was over, only to have it reignite? An entire battalion of "whys" was dispatched to Mumbai - perhaps it was a commando force.

One last "why": Why were they so hasty in their assault? After all, experience teaches that it's better to negotiate with attackers or kidnappers, who will sometimes give up without a fight, or with a minimum of losses. Too bad they didn't learn from our experience.

It would not have happened to us. Our rescue operations are always successful: At the school in Ma'alot, at the apartment building in Kiryat Shmona, in our rescue of Nachshon Wachsman. And that's how we recently secured the release of Gilad Shalit, not before stopping the Qassam and mortar shell fire from the Gaza Strip in a lightning offensive.

And we usually had complete, up-to-date intelligence, too, and we have never been surprised. Maybe a little foul-up here and there, two or three, maybe four major wars broke out here with no forewarning, but we immediately recovered and recast our intelligence nets so that we knew exactly where we stood.

And the two or three or four times that we announced that some little village in Lebanon was entirely in our hands, but for the fact that the village itself was unaware of its real status as an occupied village. Now it can be told: Those announcements were aimed at confusing the enemy, to keep him off balance. In psychological warfare we have had more victories - over ourselves.

Channel 2 television news knows how to conduct a rescue, but the program doesn't know how to translate, and that's a lot more complicated. One Indian man spoke of the damage to the "unity and integrity" of his country, but according to Channel 2 he was speaking about India's "honesty" rather than its integrity. Honesty - that's what they're worried about now.

And their rivals at Channel 10, on "The Wise Council" (Moetzet Hachachamim), which is really pretty dumb sometimes, one of the guests was upset that Sayeret Matkal, the Israel Defense Forces' special-operations unit, wasn't sent to the scene in Mumbai. Those Indians, so concerned about their integrity, are also enslaved to their pride.

At the height of the battles and the tragedy there, here a battle of sorts broke out between the ministries of defense and foreign affairs, over the version of events: Was or wasn't Chabad House chosen as a target ahead of time? Uncharacteristically, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert acted with restraint this time, he refrained from calling his Indian counterparts. That's what happens when your neck is free, the sword of elections no longer hanging over it; blood flows to the brain unimpeded and your mental powers are at their fullest.

We've had it with egotists, with the Israel arrogance, with the constant puffing-up, as if we were a nation of turkeys in heat. Can we please have a moment of quiet, of modesty.

A dark night is falling on humankind, on non-humankind, and on such a night there is no desire for fools, who are wise only when they are asleep and who even forget to obtain visas on their way to identifying the bodies. Give thanks to the Lord, He is good, for we are the best.