A Vainglorious War Is Coming

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The next Netanyahu government will most certainly arise, after the usual mudslinging. It will then have to decide between peace and war. If we have to beware of anything other than natural disasters, which are out of our control, it is the possibility the government will prefer war, because it ensures the prime minister a longer rule. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, the ultra-Orthodox and the universal draft will melt away like yesterday’s news, and the country will unite, as it always does at its best moments, behind its leader – whatever happens.

War, that is, a “state of emergency,” does not require a Gog-and-Magog conflict with Iran. Even if it is an intifada or just tension along the northern border, the eyes of the nation will turn to its savior. And then the fear mounts. It mounts even more when the government threatens to slip out of the grasp of those in control. That is the way things usually go around here, even before taking into consideration the figures involved in this case, including a prime minister who is, in any case, no peace seeker.

One may well ask: What can we do? The answer is: not much. But it is our obligation at least to warn, to make clear what lies ahead, to point out that the scenario is clear and we have been there before. It will not help much when the issue is the government’s war for survival, that is, a life-and-death struggle from the point of view of the abovementioned figures involved. But if their conscience does not bother them, at least it should itch just a little. And even if it doesn’t itch, perhaps a reminder that every war is a gamble, and it might not only be the subjects who pay the price but the rulers as well, will help. It may not be the same price – blood, sweat and tears – but it is a price nonetheless.

The kick out the door, even if tardily delivered, is not exactly a caress. Sometimes the kick comes along with bitter disappointment and humiliation, sometimes with eternal disgrace. And a warning, even if it is quixotic, nave and useless, is in some sense worth delivering, in my opinion. It might sound the alarm somewhere or lead to some head-scratching or to another out-of-the-box consultation. And who knows, perhaps the next response to a slingshot loosed in the West Bank will be in the correct proportion. Not, perish the thought, out of a pious Christian motives, but because it is advantageous. Because we have reiterated three words: not worth it.

The short term, we must remember, usually produces results as far as the survival of the government goes, but at the next stage or the one after that – catastrophe. The subjects lick their wounds and the rulers only begin to understand what is happening to them. There are investigations, mass demonstrations and committees of inquiry, and then they regret not only the provocation but their very appetite for government. From the lowest depths, they regret ever taking flight for the heights. Glory seems foolish. The government seems a trap for the nave and history –  perfidious.

But it is going to happen, no doubt about it. In our arena, it is unavoidable – a compulsion, one might say. It doesn’t matter from what direction, left or right, in the end it happens. A security emergency is a sure thing. But you still say to yourself, not this time. Something will prevent it. Someone will have mercy.

Israeli soldiers withdrawing from Lebanon at the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.Credit: Nir Kafri

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