It's difficult to write this today, when dozens of families join the circle of bereavement. Yet we must say it, in a clear voice, in the face of the cries of joy heard in parts of the Arab world, and also because of the confused voices on our side.
This war (I heard a kid who suggested calling it "Summer Vacation War", because it ruined his vacation and will end just in time for the school year to start…) ended with an Israeli victory. Period.
How do we measure victory? Despite the pain, a country's achievements are not measured by human life, but rather, by long-term objectives and accomplishments.
The return of the abducted soldiers is therefore important, but not the essence. Similarly, the suffering endured by residents of the North – and those were significant hardships indeed – is no reason for mass depression, but rather, one component we must fully understand in order to draw proper conclusions.
We remained united
We won because the world recognizes that the situation in southern Lebanon was unbearable and therefore must be changed. The United Nations Security Council signed a document that makes it clear we have only Israel and Lebanon, with the Hizbullah a sort of gnat that doesn't quite exist. The happy days where every Hizbullah militiaman could wave his Kalashnikov across the border fence are over. Move it, boys.
We won because we didn't lie. Losses were reported honestly, even when they were difficult. A reserve officer who returned from the north of the country spoke about hearing fluent Persian on Hizbullah's two-way radios. Add this piece of information to the report about the bodies of Iranian fighters uncovered by the IDF. Do you think you'll ever hear about it from the other side? You'll hear nothing – Iran already denied it.
Yet this is not the only lie: We also had the "massacre" in Qana, the "thick smoke" produced by the creative photographer in Beirut, and many more. We don't lie, for better or for worse. Mostly for better.
We also won when it comes to the dry figures. We endured losses, tanks were hit, as well as a missile boat, and a helicopter was shot down. And what happened on the other side? Well, here's the thing: When the war is being fought against an enemy who is both a liar and hides information, it's hard to know. Therefore we'll base this on IDF reports that are referring to very serious losses to Hizbullah's fighting force.
According to the most optimistic reports, the group was in essence wiped out south of the Litani River, along with weapon caches accumulated there over six years.
We won because despite annoying displays of radicalism here and there, we remained united. The radical Left managed to enlist a record number of dozens of protesters across the Defense Ministry. The radical Right embarrassed the IDF's chief rabbi. And in between we were left with 99 percent of a stubborn people conveying a united message: This is a war for our home, we must continue.
Iranians should hang Nasrallah
Last week I met my hair dresser and saw black circles around his eyes. Tiredly he told me that he and his partner decided to drive up to the northern town of Kiryat Shmona to give the people in bomb shelters haircuts and make them merry. They were there until 2 a.m. Nobody forced them to go there, or paid them to do so; they simply decided to do it. We won because of such Israelis.
We won because we're coming out of this war beaten, but on our feet. Lebanon will need long years to recover. Hizbullah's fate is completely unknown, while its patron Syria is already eagerly eying the temptations offered by the world.
After all, Nasrallah's power was measured in his secretive ties with Damascus and Iran and the blows he would deliver our way on occasion, like a mosquito. The moment the mosquito turned into an elephant everyone in the world talks about, the secrecy is gone. Also gone is the grand plan for a strategic assault on the State of Israel. The surprise element of thousands of missiles hitting us without warning is also gone. Everything is gone.
It's not my place to offer advice, but if I were the Ayatollah Khamenei I would invite Hassan Nasrallah to Teheran this month and hang him downtown.
Make no mistake about it: Nasrallah will still be delivering boastful speeches left and right and claiming this was the greatest victory ever in Lebanon. However, then he will review what he's left with: A beaten organization that the world is expecting to quickly come off the stage and that needs to contend with an international document that forbids it from holding any weapons or receive arms from anyone. Then, Nasrallah we'll have to ask himself some heavy questions.
Triumph over Nasrallah's culture of lies
It's so difficult to clear the war's fog and examine what's happening clearly. We lost our best sons. We sustained several painful blows to our military pride – and mostly, we learned important lessons.
The most important lesson is that of complacency: Those who for years dozed off and neglected developments to our north eventually paid the price. Those who neglected the IDF's reserve forces for years and groomed "prestigious" forces at the expense of the guys who walk in the sand were humiliated when the moment of truth arrived.
Indeed, our genuine victory grows out of those lessons. Israel is a country that makes mistakes, but also one that analyzes its errors without hiding and lying. Everything is open to criticism, both political and on the part of the media, and everything can be fixed and changed. Yes, this also means replacing our leadership, if you wish.
And this, perhaps, is the secret of our great triumph over Nasrallah's culture of lies. Despite all, we won.
Guy Benyovits is Ynet's chief news editor