Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gaza and the Rhetoric of War

I pass along this column by a right-wing columnist who writes for Haaretz, only as an example of the kind of rhetoric that is currently widespread in the Israeli press. It is, of course, eerily reminiscent of some of the stuff we were seeing in the US media a few years ago: the idea that we had to let soldiers in Iraq "finish the job" (or "git 'er done") so as not to sacrifice the lives and efforts of those soldiers who had already suffered. Powerful stuff, to be sure . . . but ought such concerns outweigh humanitarian concerns for the people of Gaza. Moreover, does it make sense to pour more soldiers' lives and limbs into a conflict when it's apparent that any solution to the underlying problems must be found in the realm of politics, not war?

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m

Last update - 02:18 08/01/2009

We must let ourselves win

By Israel Harel

"We shall restore honor to the people of Israel," wrote Dvir Emmanueloff, the first soldier to fall in Operation Cast Lead, in his final text message to his mother. And Daliah, his mother, is already concerned and urging the political leadership: "Let them win. Don't stop them halfway." This is also what wounded soldiers in the hospital - and their parents - asked the prime minister to do, and it is the request of the people in the south. It is also what the prime minister and ministers say when they promise in public, at every opportunity, that the campaign will cease only when "a new security reality" is established.

Emmanueloff directed her plea to the decision makers - "Don't stop them halfway" - as early as the first day of the ground offensive, when they were still radiating determination and self-confidence. Her words expressed the built-in fear of all Israelis, who have experienced weak governments, which, lacking vision, have ended campaigns just shy of victory, or turned victories in the field to diplomatic and morale downfalls.

It is necessary to fight to achieve our aims. And in Israel's condition, there is also a war against external pressures; this also requires wisdom, strategies, courage and a willingness to suffer the costs and bear the consequences. Even when faced with Nicolas Sarkozy or Barack Obama. What will be the point of a costly military operation, the people will ask themselves, if the cabinet stops it at its peak and receives a "diplomatic arrangement" frustratingly similar to the infamous Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War.

Does Tzipi Livni, one of those who initiated 1701, not understand this? And how can Ehud Barak, who at every opportunity mocks the international force meant to prevent the rearmament of Hezbollah, support the Egyptian initiative? Can he allow himself - can we allow ourselves - to let Operation Cast Lead not achieve even its more minimal objectives? The government must not agree again, as a result of pressures from within and without, to an arrangement like the one in Lebanon.

During the cabinet deliberations yesterday, someone said the losses have caused great sorrow and have begun to gnaw at the public's support for continuing the operation. Sorrow - yes; not supporting the operation - definitely not. Hear the worker from Sderot, an immigrant from Russia, who was putting up Israeli flags between Qassam and Grad rocket attacks: "After years of humiliation, I finally feel Israeli." See the 120 percent rate of reservists reporting for duty. Hear the families of the dead and wounded. Listen to them, cabinet members, and to the people in the south who declare that they are willing to endure the Grads as long as the Israel Defense Forces put an end to their constant suffering.

The people who bear the brunt of the war are willing to pay the price until its aims are achieved. It is absurd that those who almost bear no brunt of the war and whose main "contribution" is weakening the army's resolve and the nation's positive underpinnings are apparently beginning to guide the government's next steps.

The political leaders will secure their place in history - and certainly their position in the upcoming elections - if this time they ignore the subversive elements. They will achieve this if, contrary to their behavior in previous campaigns, if they find the courage, despite the strong psychological warfare being conducted mostly from within, and fulfill their promises to the people in general and the citizens of the Negev in particular, to carry on until victory. Because this campaign will determine the future of the State of Israel.


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