Just hours after the abduction of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev at 2 a.m. Friday about a month ago, I was called up for emergency duty. I am just a simple elderly soldier serving on the home front, but nonetheless one of those suckers who didn’t say the right thing to the mental health-care officer. And although the greatest risk I was to face in the coming weeks was caffeine poisoning, I saw much more than an ordinary man usually sees.
Families and businesses left behind
I met some honorable and serious people, who left their families and businesses behind. They had spent days on end with eyes peeled, ears alert, mouths shouting and brains thinking. They gave everything they had to the people of the north. Screw ups were rare (and understandable), they were efficient and purposeful. Quickly these soldiers divided themselves up between those who constituted part of the solution and those who constituted part of the problem. The latter were quickly moved from key positions. Positioned in all the right places was an army that is wonderfully intelligent and knows exactly what the task at hand is.
From my position, I helplessly looked at the Hizbullah’s actions with indignation, but I maintained an indifferent expression similar to that of a computer screen. On one of my valuable vacations I joined novelists Meir Shalev, David Grossman, Ephraim Sidon, Yossi Abulafia and Noga Algom on a trip up north to share my experiences with the children in the bomb shelters. We visited a community center in Nahariya and a bomb shelter in Shlomi, we shook from the blasts of the Katyusha rockets that landed just a few meters from us , and most importantly: we saw the plight of our people. We stumbled on reality, and our hearts ached.
A necessary war
I live in Ramat Gan, and live the life of Tel Aviv. But I discovered what goes on in the army and in the bomb shelters and I am of the impression that this war is necessary and that it is not our fault. It does occasionally harm innocent people and kill women and children, but war is war. Even open heart surgery is not a spectacular sight. The desire to stop the war because it is not photogenic in Tel Aviv is an irrational, infantile and spoiled attitude that shows somewhat strange usage of a backbone. This is not a message we should be conveying to our enemies, nor to our friends and children. This is a message more befitting a battered woman.
Those who agree to exercise self restraint after the insult of abductions and Katyusha rockets – two attacks not preceded by provocation – will end up being cruel to the merciful. It is only natural to harbor feelings of uncertainty and hesitation. Our morality obliges this, even if those preachers at the gate are ignorant, wrong, hysterical, self righteous and haters of their own people and themselves. Let them hold rallies and demonstrations; let them accuse our leaders of being politically opportunistic; we need them so that we don’t forget what we are fighting for, so that we can answer them and ourselves in real time.
'Whatever is required'
And this is the answer: It’s not worth sacrificing 90 soldiers or 200, but however much is required to return our abducted soldiers. Whatever is required until the Hizbullah is crushed. Because it is not these soldiers lives we are saving but our own. The way we perceive the world. Those calling for withdrawal to prevent the “foolishness” should understand that the foolishness is theirs. Withdrawal at this stage will not only give the Hizbullah a foolish sense of honorable “victory”, but fertile ground for the establishment of a clear and immediate Iranian threat.
The mission calls for long-term investment, this is not an espresso and it won’t be ready in an instance, and Israel and Zionism are not a startup initiative – namely if it fails, it fails, until the next project. Because there will not be another project.