It has always appeared to me that in war, wisdom comes after the fact. After the destruction and the mourning. Afterwards, summation reports appear to outline just how stupid we were, books are written about all the mistakes we made, and about just how we allowed ourselves to be dragged into a trap it will take 10 or 20 years to extricate ourselves from.
Gaza and Lebanon are traps we return to periodically. The cemeteries I visit each year on Memorial Day to visit my friends' graves – Tzupar, Tziki, Ori and Mintz – are full of casualties from Gaza and Lebanon.
Now, too. We are facing a wholly extraneous war. Previous wars were followed by deterioration, failed negotiations, political freeze. The July, 2006 war was followed by elections – in Israel and the PA.
In both places there is a vacuum of leadership. Leaders are confused and arrogant, and security forces are sitting with itchy fingers and looking for action.
The crushing of Beirut and the destruction of Nahariya will be the most unnecessary war we've ever fought. Every thing that happens could have been predicted and prevented, if only we'd had experienced politicians to act alongside restrained Americans.
This is a war that has quickly disintegrated due to armed militias and a strong army, hurt and seething for revenge and lacking all stops.
Failure to capitalize
The recent past, following the blood-soaked second intifada , is full of our own mistakes. The death of Yasser Arafat that so many people waited for was not capitalized on. Israel failed to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas, and the Fatah party prepared for elections emasculated. Israel and the United States supported those elections, and Hamas emerged victorious.
We pulled out of Gaza unilaterally and left Gaza a wasteland. I have visited Gaza many times since the pullout and send the hell of hunger, the misery. It is a pressure cooker with no release valve.
"A cat pushed into a corner becomes a panther," goes the Arab saying. The miserable Gaza panther fires its annoying tin-can Qassams as a call of poverty from those choking, those who lack answers.
But when the army's pride took a blow and Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, the army hit back with all its might. Instead of negotiations, patience and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, our forces have killed about 100 Gazans over the last month, many, many of them civilians, including women and children.
The reaction came as a boomerang from Lebanon, the only Arab country with a strong, effective army, that came along and humiliated the IDF by hitting a weak spot.
In Lebanon, as in Gaza, the army made its decision and responded. The civilian echelon, which was so weakened during the intifada it just about disappeared, is just about invisible.
All the gains from the Lebanon and Gaza were lost in the blink of an eye. All that would seem left for us now is to consider the developments of new tragedy, of stupidity and blindness on both sides, both of whom lack wise leaders who could put out the fire before it consumes us all.