Blogging the War: War Without Miracles

by Brian on August 11, 2006

in In the News,Living Through Terror,War with Hezbollah

This article was posted on on Thursday, August 10, 2006. The link is here.Where are the miracles of Entebbe and the Six Day War in the current conflict with Hezbollah?


After 29 days of fighting,
Israel is slowly winning the war against Hezbollah. There’s still a lot
of work to be done and the fighting is nowhere near over. Still, the
overall outlook is surprisingly good. So why do Israelis feel so bad?The
destruction of Hezbollah and the Iranian-backed terror regime it has
carved out of south Lebanon over the past six years hasn’t proceeded
the way anyone had expected. This war has been slow going to a fault.

nearly a month of Hezbollah missiles, a million Israelis either
displaced to points south or living in bomb shelters, and with no acceptable ceasefire looking to be finalized at any point soon, it’s no wonder
that many Israelis are beginning to question their government’s
handling of the war effort.

With our massive firepower and
superior technology, why hasn’t the Israel Defense Forces been able to
secure a truly decisive win already, a growing clamor of voices is
asking? How can it be that, despite Israel’s occupation of nearly the
entire former security zone (the area Israel held for 18 years from
1982-2000), more – not fewer -missiles are landing in the north? Why
did the security cabinet feel it necessary to authorize an expanded
ground operation on Wednesday to push up as far as the Litani River in
an operation cabinet minister Eli Yishai said could last up to 30
days…and probably more?

And the question perhaps most prominent but rarely spoken: where are the miracles we’ve come to expect from the Israeli army?

Slow In Coming

miracles – that’s the key to the despair that’s taking over from the
euphoria of during the initial weeks of the war. Israel demands
miracles and it’s just not seeing any in this protracted battle.

is the daring of a covert operation like the one in Entebbe that freed
a hijacked plane of Israeli and Jewish hostages in 1976? Or a war
against implacable odds and the combined armies of three Arab countries
that ended miraculously in just six days, as in 1967? How about an
unexpected and audacious attack on the very heart of the enemy, such as
what Israel undertook when it shocked the world and removed the threat
of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Osirak in 1981?

And let’s not
forget the stunning turnaround that represented the War of Independence
– an outcome so miraculous that not only was the fledgling Jewish state
not destroyed as its enemies predicted, but it ended up with a
geography far larger than what was granted it under the initial
U.N.-sanctioned partition plan.

Where are those quick,
unexpected and outrageous miracles this time? Israel and its supporters
have been deprived of the one-two knockout punch that would have ended
the misery in a matter of days or hours, not weeks, now going into
months. The Israeli air force tried, but has been unable to take out
-let alone find – Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah from whatever
super-secret bunker he’s squirreled away in today. Where is the massive
display of Israeli airpower we all believe – but have not seen – that
can vaporize every single missile launcher deployed against the Jewish
state with a single dramatic flourish?

Why, Israelis are wondering, can’t the Israeli army deliver this time?

not just Israelis who are looking for miracles. The Americans too have
been disappointed. Hoping that Israel would “show those Iranians who’s
the boss” by quickly defeating its front line proxy army – the
Hezbollah; Washington analysts are starting to question America’s
over-reliance on Israel, “the little strategic ally that couldn’t” as
Jerusalem Post Editor David Horowitz put it this week.

As if
the U.S. was able to do any better in Iraq. But that’s not point. We
expect more from Israel. We expect nothing short of miracles.

Asa-El, also writing in the Post this week, says Israel has made a
number of strategic errors to date, most importantly by lacking
“swiftness and imagination. Massive aerial bombardments on mountainous
guerrilla enclaves, followed by ground forces frontally approaching
villages just beyond the border fence, could hardly have been more
banal,” Asa-El commented.

Why such seeming incompetence?
Ironically, it’s Israel’s Jewish moral and ethical values that have
gotten in the way of the miracles so desperately needed, the Post’s
Horowitz says. Israel needs either a much greater use of the airpower
it surely has, or a larger ground offensive.

But “either of
those avenues would necessarily involve death on a far larger scale
than we have seen thus far,” Horowitz wrote. “Pulverizing airpower
would likely create Lebanese civilian casualties of a number that would
dwarf the toll to date. Wider use of ground forces, on Hezbollah’s home
territory, would likely dwarf the IDF toll hitherto sustained in the
close-quarters fighting.”

And so the current conflict justifies
“the degree and scale of airpower and ground troops to date,” Horowitz
concludes, “and no more.” Israel has “not chosen different answers to
its ethical dilemmas.”

Winning Pace

And yet, the
war is being won, despite the loss of 15 soldiers yesterday in the
Lebanese villages of Marjaryon, Khjam and Kila.. Let’s look at some

· Over 10,000 Israeli troops are currently on the
ground in Lebanon and Israel now has in its hands large swaths of
former Hezbollah-controlled land.

· Hezbollah has been on the run, and rumors are that Nasrallah had fled to Syria and is conducting operations from there.

The rocket launchers in Tyre that have plagued Haifa have mostly been
taken out, as has the area near Sidon where a long range Khaibar-1
missile was fired at Hadera – the deepest point south a missile has
penetrated Israel – last Friday night.

More tellingly,
wherever Hezbollah and Israeli forces have fought, Hezbollah has been
defeated. That’s not been without IDF casualties, to be sure, and the
toughest battlefields, including Maroun er Ras and Bint Jbail, are
still claiming Israeli soldiers’ lives nearly daily. But Hezbollah has
lost its grip on the Israeli-Lebanese border and the fortified bunkers
that it used to taunt – and eventually kidnap – Israeli soldiers now
lay abandoned to Israeli military might.

Even Hezbollah’s main
weapon – its extensive missile supply – has not had doomsday effect
many feared. Over 3,300 missiles have been fired to date but “only” 51
Israeli civilians have died. While I don’t mean to sound cavalier –
tearful newsreaders regularly announce the times and locations of each
and every funeral during Israel Radio’s calm but sadly mesmerizing
top-of-the-hour briefs – from a geo-strategic point of view, at least,
that’s not a very good return on investment. Israel eventually managed
to deal with the last “new” weapon introduced into the region – the
suicide bomb; now it is learning how to live with and neutralize
Hezbollah’s missile threat as well.

The fighting is not over,
and as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a decidedly
Churchillian speech before the nation last week, there may still be
more days of “pain and tears and blood” ahead, but Israel is surely –
albeit very slowly – gaining the upper hand.

All this brings us
back to miracles. Perhaps we have been looking for miracles in the
wrong places. Instead of hoping for a miracle from beyond – a
Moses-like defeat of Israel’s enemies in the desert or the parting of the Red Sea – maybe we need to
look within. It may sound like a cliché, but the steadfastness of the
Israeli people is truly its own miracle.

For nearly a month,
Israel has been battered but not defeated. The north is on the run, but
it has not given up. Israelis may question whether the government is
handling the war in the best way possible (can you imagine Israelis not
kvetching about something), but support for the war effort remains high.

the stories of families in the center of the country opening their
homes to complete strangers, or donating money to buy toys and supplies
for those still stuck in the bomb shelters of the north are

Friends of ours are hosting a family from
Karmiel who have been camping in tents along the beach for weeks.
Museums and attractions all over the country have been offering deep
discounts to families from “confrontation line communities.” Tel Aviv
is taking in 3,000 residents of the north who’ve been hardest hit,
housing them in a municipal convention center. There is a sense of
unity and consensus that this country has not felt for many years.

past week, a delegation of Jerusalem municipal authorities headed by
Mayor Uri Lupolianski drove up in a convoy of vehicles to Kyriat
Shemona to provide help (the picture above shows the delegation under a banner in Hebrew reading “From Jerusalem to the North with Love”). The luggage compartments were filled with
sandwiches and soft drinks; a petting zoo was in tow, as was a mobile
children’s library and a van filled with wheelchairs donated by the Yad
Sarah organization.

One of the 13 vehicles heading north was
from the city’s veterinary department. Headed by Jerusalem’s chief vet,
Dr. Zohar Dvorkin, they were bringing massive amounts of cat and dog
food to soothe the thousands of abandoned pets who are now roaming the
streets (officials estimate there are some 8,000 abandoned pets across
the north).

“You came all the way from Jerusalem to Kyriat
Shemona to feed the cats?” asked a man emerging from his shelter, at
once incredulous and grateful.

A small gesture, but one that
speaks volumes for why Israel is winning this war. “We embrace life
while the enemy embraces death.” Another cliché, but in a war where one
might reasonably expect blood-curdling calls for revenge, those very
Jewish ethical and moral concerns for life (even animals) are what will
sustain the country at the end of the day.

And that, unquestionably, is the real miracle.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Anonymous August 11, 2006 at 7:29 pm

I wish the best to the nation Israel and a speedy and TOTAL victory!…so this varmint will never show its head again! GO ISRAEL!

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