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War in North

IDF forces in north Photo: AFP
IDF forces in north Photo: AFP
 
 

How we lost our sparkle

Perhaps our politicians didn't quite realize that the IDF is no longer the greatest army on earth

Yoram Kaniuk
Published: 08.13.06, 20:53 / Israel Opinion

When I was younger, I wanted to believe in a better future, in the chance of ending our conflict with the Arabs.

 

I was arrogant and I signed petitions. When I finally understood that it didn't matter how fine the ideas were, and that ideologies

only led to the worst possible bloodshed, I returned to the Bible, to Machiavelli's "The Prince," to the wisdom of David Ben-Gurion and to Natan Alterman.

 

I haven't signed any petitions since then. Petitions are a form of arrogance. We the author's guild would like to know more than taxi drivers do. As far as I am concerned, there can be no "us" – there is only "me." I am right, just like anyone else.

 

Numb to suffering

 

This just war of ours in Lebanon is almost over. The IDF didn't win. It rejected an American development aimed at destroying Katyusha rockets, and instead purchased another F-15. The IDF has become cumbersome in recent years. Soldiers manned checkpoints and escorted settler children to their dance lessons in Jerusalem.

 

They became numb to the suffering of our enemies, yet the worst enemy deserves such suffering so that the soldier fighting it becomes wiser. The IDF was a crafty, daring army. Lower-ranking soldiers and officers still are. Captain Ro'i Klein, may he rest in peace, a settler from Eli laid himself down on a hand grenade to save his friends. That's the kind of heroism we used to instill in our young.

 

Mofaz became chief-of-staff because someone didn't like the person who was actually elected, Matan Vilnai, who would have put together a huge army.

 

A cumbersome army

 

Mofaz, as well as his predecessors and successors, maintained a cumbersome army with lots of fighter planes and several tanks that learned to move like huge beasts through the alleyways of Palestinian cities. They opted not to deal with the armament and strategies that were brought to the table and rejected.

 

We won the War of Independence despite the generals. We won the Yom Kippur War too, because field soldiers and officers fought the war, not the generals.

 

I'm not sure the political echelon is to blame. It was right in making the decision to go to war against what President Bush terms Islamic fascists, a war on multi-faceted terror.

 

A beautiful young woman of means, from a good home, walks into a coffee shop in Haifa, she looks peacefully around her, she sees children, grandparents, and women. After she sips at her drink she blows herself up along with all the other occupants.

 

And what does Islam say? The words they sing every day are not mere words. They mean every word. Why did the left refuse to respect the Arabs, was it in order to realize that they have always spoken what's truly on their minds?

 

No messiah coming

 

The war, therefore, was justified. But perhaps I am mistaken, just perhaps, but I doubt it. Could it be that the politicians didn't realize that the IDF is no longer the greatest army on earth? That it doesn't have the means to beat Islamic terrorism, that no one has figured out how to beat them yet.

One thing is clear: Bombing cities and killing innocent civilians is not the way to go. I'm not speaking about morality; morals are dreams that are never fulfilled.

 

The Jewish messiah's great wisdom, contrary to Christianity, lies in the fact that he cannot come. He will wait for something that can never happen. Our existence involves war, and every war involves murder and killing. It's been this way since Cain killed his brother Abel who was then banished by God to the land Nod on the east of Eden, bearing a divine mark to assure he would not be harmed. He was blessed with a long life.

 

Olmert's sin

 

It appears to me – I don't know about others and I don't really care – that Olmert and Peretz, like the rest of us, relied on legends about the air force. If this is a sin, it's an unfounded one.

 

But on the other hand, Israeli reality is such that everyone must rely on someone beneath himself. If the prime minister asks his generals whether or not to go to war, he must be able to trust their decision. Maybe that's a sin. But I doubt whether it's such a great one.

 

The IDF underestimated Hizbullah. The Intelligence Corps went on strike and its chutzpah went to its head when it succeeded in making life insufferable for the Arabs in the West Bank. Mofaz silently gave is consent to the abuse in the territories and proceeded to Lebanon with his generals. And lo and behold - we and our Jewish smarts, fell right into the trap set for us. Iran sent us a sharp message to teach us a good old lesson.

 

We fell into the trap, just like the Americans fell into it in Iraq. We failed to produce any original ideas about planning a future war against an army of individuals prepared to die. The president of Iran also says publicly that he would sacrifice his own country in order to destroy ours.

 

The Iranians left a million dead in their war with the Iraqis. National sacrifice is nothing new. Every 20th century dictator did the same, always in the name of what we call the sanctity of human life.

 

Learning from London's foiled terror attack

 

The first original idea pertaining to terror to come up in recent years was in England, and relates to what the British managed to do after last year's attack on the London Underground. Their exposure of a terrible midair terror plot just a year later should teach the IDF a lesson, particularly after IDF officers arrogantly said that the British hadn't learned enough from us. The next battle with Hizbullah will be quick in coming. We would be wise to prepare.

 

But no!! I don't sign petitions and don't tell others what to do. I write my opinions – sometimes I'm right and sometimes I'm not. There is no divinity in human nature.

 

Man makes mistakes the day he his born and I know he even makes mistakes upon death. I experienced death, and I returned. I don't know why. Perhaps just to be myself. I don't want to be one of three or 10. Once, I was arrogant, silly, one of the gang - that was when I wasn't so old.

 

 

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