If my wife and finances had allowed it, I would have spent the last few weeks in Israel. I'm not sure what I would have done - perhaps shlepping stuff to the north and people to the south. Being a human shield of sorts - if a katyusha rocket landed on me, perhaps Norwegians would have woken up to the fact that a Norwegian citizen - albeit a Jewish one - was a casualty of Hezbollah's attempt at genocide. A morbid fantasy, of course, and I'm still here in an office building in New York.
There are conflicting news about what actually happened in this war. Bush and Debka seem to think that Hizballah lost, and that this is a serious defeat for Iran. The emerging public opinion is that the senior command of the IDF was a huge disappointment, and that the last 48 hours made all the difference, if any.
I think Allison provides the right quote from Klein Halevi:
This is a nation whose heart has been broken: by our failure to uproot the jihadist threat, which will return for another and far more deadly round; by the economic devastation of the Galilee and of a neighboring land we didn't want to attack; by the heroism of our soldiers and the hesitations of our politicians; by the young men buried and crippled in a war we prevented ourselves from winning; by foreign journalists who can't tell the difference between good and evil; by European leaders who equate an army that tries to avoid civilian causalities with a terrorist group that revels in them; by a United Nations that questions Israel's right to defend itself; and by growing voices on the left who question Israel's right to exist at all.
It can't be easy to be an Israeli right now. Lots of Israeli soldiers went bravely into battle, with determination but little enthusiasm, for once with a mission to not just hold a line but win a war. And many of them are dead. The Israeli public opinion was unified, and even as they were horrified by the scenes of devastation from Lebanon, they were willing to suck up the shame and deal with it. International public opinion is, as always, against Israel.
It's telling that while the Lebanese swarmed southwards to areas that had previously been attacked by the IDF, there is only a trickle north in Israel. I'm not sure what's left of Kiryat Shemona - somebody better make a photo essay.
Israel, for all intents and purposes, was the vanguard in the fight on terrorism the last few weeks. If this battle was lost, the next one will be far worse, and can only be won by even more grim determination.
So I have two questions:
- What do the heads of state of the civilized world have in mind now? They all know this was a critically important mini-war that had to be won to curb Iran's crazy agenda. And they know if that it has to be fought over again, it has to be fought to win, by any and all means necessary.
- What can we do to show the Israelis that they're not alone? Apart from sending money, what's the right form of moral support? They need to deal with a defense system that is rich with talent but low on leadership, a political administration that is struggling, and severe wounds in the north of the country. And there's still Hamas, Fatah, etc., to deal with.
The first question will take time to answer, but I fear it's going to be ugly. The second we need to start talking about.