The Dartmouth Observer

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Monday, August 28, 2006
The Edge of Knife

The situation in Israel is still tenuous.

First, the good news. "Had Hezbollah known how Israel was going to respond, the group would not have captured two Israeli soldiers last month in northern Israel, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday." That's right Hassan, southern Lebanon is not looking very nice right now is it? In fact, Iran is probably wondering how you managed to force it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to your (now) emasculated terror organization, isn't it? Truth is: you can't fire rockets at Israel with the UN force there. If you do something stupid, someone is going to blow you up. Sure, you are still a functioning organization, but it's so much more risky now to terrorize Israelis, isn't it. Oh, and by the way, you have to shelter about a million displaced persons. Good luck with that.

Second, the not so good news. For once, Ha'aretz is not trying to bury yet another government. Let's look at this piece by piece and see what the problem is though.
The reserve soldiers who were sent deep into Hezbollah territory without being properly equipped have not concealed their anger. Protest movements have sprung up overnight demanding a national commission of inquiry and the dismissal of Ehud Olmert, Dan Halutz and Amir Peretz.

But the public outcry has done a certain injustice to the parties in question. Halutz is a great military brain and an exceptionally accomplished soldier. Peretz is not a military expert, but he has leadership skills and experience. Olmert is a savvy politician, smart, clever and cool as a cucumber, who did well in America.

What happened is that our best and brightest suddenly lost it. They had an attack of reckless, sloppy, half-baked thinking.

This is fine. This blog has criticized this Olmert government for not having a plan for victory. (It was too much like the Bush failure in Iraq, or, the impending war against Iran for me not to complain. I couldn't count myself a friend of Israel if I didn't complain when it was justified to do so.)

The author, however, goes a bit too far after that writing, "It would never have happened to some of the people who held their jobs before them." Alright, let's get ready for the bad history lesson.
Yitzhak Rabin, for example, was the anxious type. At the very suggestion of some military operation, his face would turn grim and you could guess right away what he was going through his head his breakdown on the eve of the Six Day War, his defeat at the polls in 1977, the experience of the first intifada. Yitzhak Shamir could not be dragged into any kind of military escapade. He would not let his defense minister, Moshe Arens, or his chief of staff, Ehud Barak, bomb Iraq when the Scuds were falling here during the Gulf War.

Ah, it's the old compare the average of today to the best of yesterday strategy. It always leads to disappointment. People criticized Shamir and Barak plenty enough when things were going on. (Rabin was lucky enough to die on the job (like Socrates) and leave it to Peres to screw things up.) Shamir, I think, got bullied into a regional summit, didn't he? Luckily the article ends on the right note:
On second thought, despite all the public fury and the clamor to kick out the "Big Three," ousting the government and appointing a commission of inquiry could turn out to be a serious mistake. We have no better players sitting on the bench today. We have no time for a commission that will start investigating everything that has happened since May 2000 and reach its conclusions in another year from now, when there are so many challenges staring us in the face.

Better to let the current administration, which is barely four months old, learn from its mistakes and make some quick all-around improvements. By chopping off heads, we will not rebuild ourselves.

Olmert deserves another chance. Labor may or may not need to be in the government, but this is no time to let Bibi and his minions back into power. There is a reason Sharon left that party.

Kadima must survive the present government or Israel is doomed. Building its wall of apartheid, Israel must a find a way forward from its current demographic mess a democratic country for Jews, or else it risks its own annihilation by provoking a mass uprising of the Palestinians whose political, economic, and cultural infrastructure the Israeli state has destroyed, leaving a vacuum filled with longing, nostalgia, rage, and a sense of injustice. Let us pray that is does not come to that. Kadima is our last hope.