Like French soccer star Zindane Zidane, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah was riding a temporary wave of popularity and felt he was on top of the virtual world. It was the sort of high that dupes people into thinking they can commit the sin of arrogance without being punished for it.
He made a fatal mistake, to say the very least, from our perspective and that of his organization – at the height of its power and popularity
he head butted Israel, and the referee – the international and Arab community – gave him a red card. The enemy themselves will be the ones to remove him from the playing field.
Anyone who has followed the Arabic electronic press in recent days has certainly noticed that in certain places in the Middle East, images of children receiving candies in celebration have been replaced with unprecedentedly harsh statements against this shining star who supposedly "restored the Arab world's pride."
One Persian Gulf leader called Nasrallah a "fool" for bringing a mega-disaster, mainly economic, on Lebanon. Now, it is true that in every generation a leader arises who tries to destroy the Land of the Cedars: In the 1970s it was Yasser Arafat, who brought in his PLO and made the place look like Sodom. Now it is Nasrallah, king of arrogance, who is making the place look like Gomorrah.
Lebanese society is licking its wounds. Tourism has collapsed. We can assume that the 15,000 Saudis who cut short their annual holidays and are torturously making their ways back to Syria via back roads aren't exactly singing the praises of Nasrallah as they board their planes in Damascus for their flights back to Riyadh.
Also, hundreds of investors, thousands of planners and tens of thousands of workers who make their livings from late President Rafik al-Hariri's plans to recreate the country, weren't exactly thrilled to see Beirut burning.
Where are the demonstrations?
The only question left is how it could be that ordinary Lebanese, who just a few months ago filled the streets of Beirut to demand, "Assad go home!" haven't done so now to protest against modern Lebanon's destroyer.
Flattering statements by ordinary Beirutis remind me of a battered woman who rushes back to the open arms of her abusive husband. What can you do, to each society its own enjoyment.
Future writers of history will have to deal with this question: How, and why, did Nasrallah decide that now was the time to bathe Lebanon in blood, destroy its economy and lay waste to its society? The Hizbullah made seven mistakes that brought about Lebanon's "nakba", version 2006.
1. 1990's strategy. Nasrallah is armed with strategic abilities that were good a decade ago. He believes Israel is afraid to engage him in light of the ongoing threat of long-range missiles at Israeli cities. He is wrong.
2. 1990's tactics. On the basis of this faulty premise, Nasrallah believes that if Israel does attack, it will do so with ground forces- and that's what he prepared for. He prepared his forces to combat IDF tanks and infantry, and hoped to hit Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers, like he did that first tank. Israel might send in some ground troops for a final clean up, but it is not clear that even this will be necessary.
3. He is not familiar enough with Israeli society. Nasrallah miscalculated the public's staying power. For someone claiming to know us better than anyone, he figured that if the relatively sheltered residents of Sderot, are supposedly "quivering" from the Qassam attacks – then residents of Haifa and other cities in the north would flee their supposedly unprotected cities in the north en masse. Israel's staying power and determination have surprised Nasrallah, but he'll never admit it.
4. There is no Elhanan Tannenbaum every day. Judging by the prisoner swap in which Israel released hundreds of prisoners in response for kidnapped civilian Tannenbaum and the bodies of three dead soldiers, Nasrallah figured Israelis would pester their government for a hostage-swap. He doesn't understand that he – the most arrogant, overbearing patronizing Arab leader – is the last person Israel is going to make a deal with.
5. Israeli unity. Hassan Nasrallah, the expert in Israeli affairs, has almost pushed Israeli Arab politicians Ahmed Tibi and Mohammad Barakeh into joining the coalition, especially after the attack on Majd al-Krum. It's been many years since the Israeli public supported a war so broadly against an enemy who "deserves it." Nasrallah managed to unite Israel in a way that no president, prime minister or chief of staff has ever been able to do.
6. It's the economy, stupid. Nasrallah has flushed billions of Lebanese dollars down the toilet. He is a leader who has a broad understanding of many issues, apart from the main one that concerns most Lebanese today – the economy. This wretched country, that has been trying to rebuild itself for more than a decade, to once again become the "Paris of the Middle East" – has taken a brutal kick from the leader of an extremist religious sect with no interest in the economy.
7. Media star? Not exactly. Nasrallah's theatrical media appearances were the best intelligence he could have supplied to the IDF. How would we know what he's like under pressure if we hadn't seen his speech following the kidnapping? The only people who might have believed that the appearance was proof of his determination, or that the sweat on his brow was due to a "faulty air conditioner" were one or two members of his immediate staff.
On the other hand, anyone who understands a little bit about body language understood that this was one of his most pathetic performances. Without question, it contributed to our decision to attack him and his staff. Even more so was his second speech, delivered by telephone after his headquarters in Beirut was destroyed.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Moshe Elad is a researcher at the Shmuel Neeman Institute at the Technion