Only the Dog Tag Remains

Every soldier killed has a name, which was given to him by his father and his mother, and it is their right to determine the name of the war that buried their son and left them with a dog tag.

After Prime Minister Ehud Olmert realized that he is not especially popular, he and we would also do well to understand why - why he and all his government along with him are not finding favor in the public eye. Of all the reasons, and there are too many to count, we will offer only two here.

First reason: Last summer's war in Lebanon, as everyone remembers, was intended to save the abducted soldiers from captivity. With a measure of boldness that was out of all proportion, and out of an unconscionable and irresponsible consciousness of responsibility, the government ordered the Israel Defense Forces to wield its power and get the soldiers back. One-hundred-fifty-six soldiers and civilians were killed along the way and the prisoners did not return. Now, however, there is no responsibility and no boldness with respect to signing a release deal at long last. The prime minister already said it's not terrible if the three continue to sit there for another little while. Again, a humble voice of heroism at the beginning, and again a humble voice of cowardice further along.

A second reason for the near-zero popularity is constant trickery. It isn't by trickery that they created the Lebanon war for us, yet it is by trickery that they are determining its name for us. And not just one committee has been authorized to choose a name for it, but two: A special committee, headed by attorney David Libai that convened yesterday evening, and the ministerial committee on symbols on ceremonies, which is slated to convene today. Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former chief of staff Dan Halutz, as well as the cabal that decided on war in July, hadn't a clue as to what they had decided. But now, nine months later, the government is again acting as though it does not know: Was there a war? And now they are looking for a name for it, for the bastard, a child without a name.

Many are the proposals that have been placed on the committee tables. Among the suggested names are "Northern Shield" or "Operation North." This government, which entirely lost its sense of direction and did not know which way was north for 33 days, is still taking its name in vain. This is reminiscent of Ariel Sharon's "Operation Peace for the Galilee," which had no connection at all either to peace or to the Galilee. It is a legacy: The Olmert government is not the first to speak Orwellian Newspeak. This is how they speak, the governments, to the Israeli public and especially to the bereaved families: Peace is war.

Another odd suggestion on the table is "Change of Direction" - definitely there was a change of direction. For 112 young men and women whose whole lives were before them, their lives are suddenly behind them. They were on their way to nice, long lives and suddenly these lives ended for a reason that is not entirely clear.

And the most popular suggestion at the moment is to use the word "battle." "According to the government's decision, this was a battle and we cannot change that," explained the chairman of the ministerial committee, Minister without Portfolio Yaakov Edri of Kadima. Were the honorable ministers to evince greater familiarity with Scripture, they would not prefer "battle" (Hebrew: ma'arakha) to "war" (milhama). "It would be inconceivable," as our politicians are so fond of saying. According to 1 Samuel: 4:16-17: "And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the 'ma'arakha,' and I fled today out of the 'ma'arakha' - Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great slaughter among the people and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas also are dead and the ark of God is taken." In this battle "Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent, and there was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel 30,000 footmen" (1 Samuel 4:10).

Before taking the decision it is therefore recommended to read these verses, and there are many other references that could be brought here were it not for the limitations of space.

The reality of life and death does not wait for hapless governments and it does not ask for their advice, and the reality has already given a name to this war. This is its name in Israel: Lebanon War II. And every soldier killed has a name, which was given to him by his father and his mother, and it is their right to determine the name of the war that buried their son and left them with a dog tag.