The Weakest Link

The defense and army chiefs have been telling us for years that the test is in the results, with no excuses. In this particular test, the results so far are disappointing and painful.

Half the night I sat up on the balcony, hearing the cannons boom, watching the flaring sparks, and I could not fall asleep. In my daydreams, I saw masses of refugees fleeing north over there and south over here. All the big dreams I ever had are also fleeing from me now, carrying battered suitcases and wide-eyed children.

Soldiers from Bint Jbail and Maroun al-Ras stand facing the balcony and I inspect them as though they were on parade. They seem tired to death and their ranks have dwindled noticeably. It is ordinary soldiers who always have to rescue the nation from the stupidities of its leaders. It is they who pay the price for its gross failures.

This repeat war in Lebanon is not the Yom Kippur War. So why are Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz becoming more and more reminiscent of Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan and Israel Galili, and why is Shimon Peres becoming more reminiscent of himself?

The Israeli government is now in a secure room: The fighting soldiers are covering its front and the home front is covering its back. The nation is strong and the soldiers are strong, so who is the weakest link?

They failed to find the tunnels under the fence in time, but the defense minister yesterday discovered a time tunnel. Instead of progressing toward the light at the end of the tunnel, he is retreating to the darkness at the entrance. Amir Peretz is going back 24 years in time.

He wants to set up a ?security zone? in south Lebanon all over again.

So how can one sleep? We believed that we had exorcised our demons, yet here they are again, bringing horror to the approaching day, which is neither day nor night but twilight. Lebanon is here and 1982 is now. It looms in all its horror, trailing a bloody train of 18 years. It has been a long time since we have seen such a frightening ?Salto Mortale.?

Yet again, they will set up a ?security zone,? and the soldiers will return to their outposts deep inside Lebanon, and the Beaufort will be reconquered. Maybe they will even change the names of former outposts that recall shame and horror. Maybe they won?t, because of nostalgia. Either way, once more the soldiers will lie in deadly ambushes in the thick undergrowth. Once again, four mothers will demonstrate and three fathers will be sacrificed on the altar.

And Amir Peretz, who in 1982 was mayor of Sderot, will also go back in the time tunnel to his old job. Only those who were killed will not return.