The “Dahiya strategy” is a term that will become entrenched in our security discourse. Dahiya is the Shiite
quarter in Beirut that our pilots turned into rubble during the Second Lebanon War.
In an interview
with Yedioth Ahronoth Friday, IDF Northern Command Chief Gadi Eisenkot uttered clear words that essentially mean the following: In the next clash with Hizbullah
we won’t bother to hunt for tens of thousands of rocket launchers and we won’t spill our soldiers’ blood in attempts to overtake fortified Hizbullah positions. Rather, we shall destroy Lebanon
and won’t be deterred by the protests of the “world.”
We shall pulverize the 160 Shiite villages that have turned into Shiite army bases, and we shall not show mercy when it comes to hitting the national infrastructure of a state that, in practice, is controlled by Hizbullah. This strategy is not a threat uttered by an impassioned officer, but rather, an approved plan.
Thus far, the “Dahiya strategy” was not adopted because Israel
attempted to cling to the distinction between “good Lebanese” and “bad Lebanese.” If we only hit the “bad guys,” we thought, the “good guys” will grow stronger. But there we have it: The “bad guys” took over our neighboring country.
Now, the whole of Lebanon is an Iranian outpost. Demography, military power, confidence, the social infrastructure, the fighting spirit, and outside support are in favor of Nasrallah.
This is both bad and good. It’s bad, because north of us there is a state that is entirely malicious. It’s good, because there is no longer any need for complicated distinctions. Israeli strategists’ new point of view is that Lebanon is an enemy, rather than a complex puzzle of factions, some of which are enemies while the others are victims of a situation not under their control.
Despite the revolutionary change on the domestic Lebanese front, I do not think that the Dahiya strategy would have received the official stamp of approval had our leaders’ view of accountability not changed. This change was not the result of an orderly examination process, but rather, a growing realization that led to the following conclusion: Our neighbors must be held fully accountable for their leaders’ acts.
We have failed in our sophisticated attempts to distinguish between innocent individuals and sinning leaders. We have failed in the effort to distinguish between “simple people who also have fathers and children” and those who incite those simple folk. Without saying so explicitly, we reached the conclusion that nations are responsible for their leaders’ acts.
In practical terms, the Palestinians in Gaza are all Khaled Mashaal, the Lebanese are all Nasrallah, and the Iranians are all Ahmadinejad.
Regrettably this doctrine did not take hold in the days following our withdrawal from Lebanon. Too bad it did not take hold immediately after the “disengagement” from Gaza and the first rocket barrages directed at the northern Negev. In both those cases we deluded ourselves into thinking that the “people” are not the same as their leaders, and that the “people” only care about making a living, but are captive to “radical and irresponsible elements.”
Had we immediately adopted the Dahiya strategy, we would have likely spared ourselves much trouble. Implementing the Dahiya strategy in Gaza would have made it clear to Hamas that we do not intend to hit them proportionally.
The Dahiya strategy is the customary doctrine adopted by most Arabs. In their view, “Zionists” are criminals, yet all of Israel’s citizens are “Zionists,” including Jews who do not at all endorse Zionism. Only Arab propagandists educated in the West make the distinction between the “Zionist government” and the Jewish people, “with which we have no historical conflict and were able to live in harmony for hundreds of years.”
I do not propose that we adopt the Arab way of thinking, but rather, only the conclusions stemming from a permanent situation whereby states and political groups that claim to be representative shirk their responsibility for those they make pretenses of representing. I am referring to the situation whereby Arab civilians grumble about being punished because of their leaders, while fearing their leaders more than they fear us. We need to make the fear we sow among them greater.