August 18, 2006

We lost the war.

We lost the war. Unbelievable. My mind is reeling as I watch events unfold.

Olmert, Peretz and Livni can spin it as much as they want but nobody here is fooled and nor is Nasrallah. The country is in shock. The soldiers and the nation had the will to win and our government let us down. Everyone is talking about the utter failure of the leadership here. I saw some graffiti sprayed onto a wall- the words in Hebrew said “Sharon wake up – Olmert is in a coma”

It’s Kafkaesque. Nicole and I read the newspaper in disbelief and dismay. The stance of the UN and the EU is beyond surreal. Let me share with you a particular news item published in the Jerusalem Post on Thursday, and you’ll understand why I think the world has gone insane.

The headline reads “World Council of Churches: Israel Planned to Destroy Lebanon”. Jean-Arnold Clermont who headed the delegation which represents 348 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches said that “The destruction was both deliberate and planned… Israel would not want the existence of a democratic Lebanon where Jews, Christians and Muslims were peacefully living side by side because it does not want to see its neighbor state succeeding in what Israel is unsuccessfully trying to achieve. De Clermont was quoted as having gone on to say that Hezbollah was a scapegoat.

Hello? What planet did I wake up on? Israel abandoned defensive positions in Lebanon six years ago against the better judgment of the army, exposing us to huge security risk in the name of peace. The North of Israel is destroyed – that is the peace dividend of our pullout from Lebanon.

People are perplexed. They cannot make sense of the events around us. Voters last year put their faith in a party whose sole platform was based on unilateral withdrawal. They believed that if we uproot tens of thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria, we would have peace with the Arabs. Can any thinking person still hold on to that misconception? After leaving Gaza the reward was unabated Kassam rockets on Israeli towns bordering Gaza. Leaving Lebanon was rewarded with 3,000 missiles fired into the heartland.

The raison d’etre of the Kadima Party, that of ‘realignment’ is being seriously questioned (Duh!) by people across the political sphere. Even many MK’s from Kadima are publicly bailing on the policy. The problem is, the government is now at a total loss as to what is next on the political horizon; “If not realignment, then what?”

Twice this week I rode my bike alone, along the magnificent beaches from Netanya to Herzliyia. For many kilometers there was just me, the sea, and the sky. I’ve posted some pictures below. Near the beach at Gash I ran into a few families who had built a temporary enclave on the beach. They had left Rosh Pina a few days earlier to escape the non-stop bombing. Most of them were still sleeping (I tend to ride my bike early in the day). One man, sitting on a woven mat on the beach invited me to join him for a turkish coffee. He had long grey hair and a beard, a large woven kippah perched over the dreadlocks. We talked about the ‘Matsav’ (the situation). His eyes stared out across the Mediterranean as he spoke. “I was born here three years after the founding of the state. When I was five years war broke out with the Egyptians in Sinai, when I was sixteen there was the six day war; at the age of 22 I fought in the Yom Kippur war. Nine years later I was with my unit again fighting in Lebanon. Now this. He raised his hands, palms heavenward. “What can you do – It’s Israel, this is our life here”. He had the look of someone who had seen it all. But he wasn’t at all hopeless. He told me that it’s a big Mitzvah to have joy in life.

He explained that there are two approaches to achieving lasting peace in the Middle East; A realistic approach and an unrealistic approach. One must sit down at the bargaining table, determine fixed borders and negotiate a political solution with the Arabs. Or alternately, pray with deep conviction for God to save us. As it turns out, he laughed, it’s the latter approach that is the realistic one.

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