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.
He expresses it perfectly. It seems the ocean of enemies around that tiny country, smaller than Vancouver Island in Canada, has made Israel’s landmass become ever more constricted after this war.
It’s not as if the Israelis didn’t know what needed to be done to win this thing, but they ended up watching as their leadership failed them. Whether it is a general responsible for the supply line absolving himself of blame for poorly equipped reservists short of food at the front; a Chief of Staff who believed an air campaign could do the job of winning against a guerrilla army; a Prime Minister and Defense Minister who held back the full force of their military; or an army apparatus that cannot explain to hostile reporters why this or that target was bombed, ultimately it seems clear that the people Israelis had trusted failed them.
At the same time what has truly made this island feel that it is remote from the world were the reactions of the UN, the head of the UN, numerous countries around the world and yes (!!) the media with its bias, its doctored and staged images, its incomplete reports, its double standards and misinformation. You can just imagine the jaws of Israelis dropping as they heard their country described unfairly and in the most unfortunate terms.
It has become Israel’s reality that they cannot have a just war in the eyes of the world. Sure, lip service is paid to the fact that Hizbullah launched this war and uses civilians as shields, but mostly this became the war of “Israel fights by killing children and civilians” in the narrative constructed by the media, diplomats, politicians and, of course, many of the Left and even some in the Center. At a time when 8500 sorties and over 5000 targets were hit by the IDF, 800 dead (who knows how many of these are Hizbullah men, since according to the Lebanese they are all “civilians”) became a watchword for some form of maniacal genocidal intent by Israel.
Never mind that the Israelis could have killed 30 or 40 times as many people or truly destroyed the Lebanese infrastructure. Never mind that Israel risked the lives of its soldiers because many civilians in S. Lebanon did not evacuate and the IDF didn’t want to blow them up. Never mind that they sent in warnings into numerous neighborhoods, villages and towns warning residents in danger to leave, even at risk to their own war effort and soldiers. Never mind that Israel’s PM held his army back from launching the full scale ground attack that was needed until the second last day of the war. Nope, none of these things matter to the world at large. Israel is the villain in their eyes.
To say that all of these things have come to represent a bitter disappointment would be an understatement.
I will say this, however: while Israel and its supporters may be feeling what Klein Halevi writes above, it is those who attacked Israel who should be looking deeply inward. Those CNN, BBC, Reuters, AP and other reporters should ask themselves whether they are being professional and honest. Those UN diplomats should ask themselves what the proper response to incursion by an enemy of a Blue Line border should be. The head of the UN should resign for his deeply ingrained and shameful bias. The politicians around the world who vilified Israel to further their own careers should ask themselves how they would have fought such an enemy and responded to such attacks. Those on the Left, particularly those closer to the Center, should address the question of why their kneejerk reaction is one where Israel is automatically the party at fault or the party who has misbehaved.
Mistakes were made in this war by Israel, and even ones that cannot be excused so readily. That is a far cry, however, from the manner in which Israel has been depicted. While Israelis and their supporters should and will do some soul-searching, those others I mention above should also do some deep soul-searching.