Operation Peace for the IDF
By Gideon Levy
| HAARETZ July 17, 2006
Every neighborhood has one, a loudmouth bully who shouldn't be provoked into
anger. He's insulted? He'll pull out a knife. Spat in the face? He'll draw a
gun. Hit? He'll pull out a machine gun. Not that the bully's not right - someone
did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction! It's not that he's not feared,
but nobody really appreciates him. The real appreciation is for the strong who
don't immediately use their strength.
Regrettably, the Israel Defense Forces once again looks like the neighborhood
bully. A soldier was abducted in Gaza? All of Gaza will pay.
Eight soldiers are killed and two abducted to Lebanon? All of Lebanon will pay.
One and only one language is spoken by Israel, the language of force.
The war that the IDF has now declared on Lebanon and before it on Gaza, will
never be considered another "war of no choice." Let's save that debate from the
historians. This is unequivocally a war of choice. The IDF absorbed two painful
blows, which were particularly humiliating, and in their wake went into a war
that is all about restoring its lost dignity, which on our side is called
"restoring deterrent capabilities." Neither in Lebanon nor certainly in Gaza,
can anyone formulate the real goals of the war, so nobody knows for sure what
will be considered victory or an achievement.
Are we at war in Lebanon? With Hezbollah?
Nobody knows for sure. If the goal is to remove Hezbollah from the border, did
we try hard enough over the last two years through diplomatic channels? And
what's the connection between destroying half of Lebanon and that goal? Everyone
agrees that "something must be done." Everyone agrees that a sovereign state
cannot remain silent when it is attacked within its own borders, though in
Israel's eyes Lebanese sovereignty was always subject to trampling, but why
should that non- silence be expressed solely by an immediate and all- out blow?
In Gaza, a soldier is abducted from the army of a state that frequently
abducts civilians from their homes and locks them up for years with or without a
trial - but only we're allowed to do that. And only we're allowed to bomb
civilian population centers.
The painful steps taken in Gaza, which included dropping a one-ton bomb on a
residential building, or killing an entire family of seven children under cover
of darkness in Lebanon, killing dozens of residents, bombing an airport, cutting
off electricity and water to hundreds of thousands of people for months were a
response lacking any justification, legitimacy or proportion. What goal did it
serve? Was the soldier released? Did the Qassams stop? Was deterrence restored?
None of that happened. Only lost honor was supposedly restored, and immediately
the next evil wind showed
up, this time from the north.
Two more soldiers were abducted and it was clearly proven that the deterrent
power was not restored, while IDF failures repeated themselves.
How does one erase those searing failures?
On the backs of innocent populations. In Lebanon, the situation is more
complicated. There is no Israeli occupation and no justification for provoking
Israel. If Hezbollah is so worried about its Palestinian brethren, it should
have first of all done something for the hundreds of thousands of refugees
living in camps in Lebanon in conditions that are just as bad as those under the
Israeli occupation, before it grabbed soldiers in their name.
But does the fact that Hezbollah is a cynical organization that exploits the
misery of Palestinians for its own purposes justify the disproportionate
reaction? The concept that we have totally forgotten is proportionality. While
we're in no hurry to get to the negotiating table, we're eager to get to the
battlefield and the killing without delay, without taking any time to think.
That deepens suspicions that we need a war every few years, with terrifying
repetition, even if afterward we end up back in exactly the same position.
The war we declared on Lebanon has already exacted from us, and of course from
Lebanon, too, a heavy price.
Did anyone give any thought to the question whether it should be paid?
Everyone knows how this war begins, but does anyone know how it ends?
Heavy casualties in the Israeli rear?
A war with Syria?
A general war?
Is it all worth it?
Look what a new rookie government can do in such a short time.
Behind the operations in Lebanon and Gaza is the same foolish idea about
pressure on the population leading to political changes that Israel wants.
In the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict, that concept has only led us from
one disaster to the next. We "cleansed" southern Lebanon of Palestinians in
1982, and what did we get? Hezbollahstan instead of Fatahland. Hamas won't fall
because Gaza is in the dark, and not even because we bombed the Palestinian
Foreign Ministry building at the weekend - another nonsensical move; Hezbollah
won't be smashed because the international airport in Beirut has been put out of
Israel once again is not distinguishing between a justified war against
Hezbollah and an unjust and unwise war against the Lebanese nation.
The camouflage concealing the war's real goals was ripped off by this defense
minister, who says what he means: "Nasrallah is going to get it so bad that he
will never forget the name Amir Peretz," he bragged, like a typical bully. Now
at least we know that Israel went to war so that the name Amir Peretz is never
forgotten. It's the war for the perpetuation of the name Peretz and the blurring
of Dan Halutz's failures. And to hell with the cost.