Since the beginning of the war in Lebanon more and more voices are being sounded in the media – by journalists and commentators as well as by various intellectuals who are describing the current campaign as a war of existence, a fight for our homes and the continuation of the war of independence.
And indeed they are all right, these are not superficial clichés, this is indeed a war of existence, a fight for our homes, and a continuation of the war of independence.
However, the war of existence is not being conducted between the State of Israel - with its nuclear arms and ballistic missiles, hundreds of war planes, assault helicopters and thousands of tanks - and between 2,500 Hizbullah guerillas and their 10,000 rockets. The war of existence is not being carried out between a small and radical organization, borne out of a megalomaniac decision taken by Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin to create a new Middle East, and between Israel.
The military struggle in Lebanon is a small and limited conflict, whose major victims are innocent civilians from both sides of the tracks. The real war is over the image and soul of the State of Israel.
War over values
This is a war without fire, and it is being conducted within Israel's borders – its results, however, are more important than the struggle between Israel and the Hizbullah in Lebanon.
This is a war over values, over the essence of civilian courage, over stating truths however painful and unpopular, even while the cannons are roaring; this is a war over the image and the future of Israel as a moral state.
This is in fact a war between a minority and a majority - between few in number, who since the first shot was fired named this war appropriately - a war of deception and stupidity between those who started it, are running it and lending it an ideological tailwind.
This is a war where few are trying to shatter the sacred consensus of those digging up excuses that would justify the overall conflict against the Lebanese inhabitants, and instead are continuing its failing management while they look for excuses to prevent its cessation.
The war in Lebanon is a conflict whereby the political stupidity, blindness, blundering military actions and lack of justice and morals go hand in hand. This is a war in which we and the Hizbullah (as well as the US) are competing over the level of stupidity and who will shoot himself in the leg more often.
How much blood?
The main question being asked in this conflict is how much blood will be shed on both sides, until we return to a starting point that uncannily resembles the one which preceded the outbreak of the conflict.
On examining the campaign via a historical perspective, I believe that we will realize that the military and political results didn't alter much in the political and strategic arenas. I am of the opinion that in a historic perspective we shall witness another episode in the series of tragedies that could have been prevented by creative diplomacy and political sensitivity that are so lacking in the Middle East.
A moral war of existence is crucial for the long term image and future of the State of Israel. If the moral war is won by the majority, if the victors are those who support blind realignment led by short sighted people who are transforming policies into a captive of brutal militarism – then the physical devastation and the loss of human life inflicted on Israel as a result of the Hizbulla's attacks, will be minor in comparison to the moral cost we shall be forced to pay in the long term.
However, every crisis presents importunities alongside the dangers. The fact that Israel is still witnessing people in the streets demonstrating against this deceptive war, the fact that free press prevails enabling the lashing out of harsh criticism against cabinet policies, against the IDF and those intellectuals who express their support for the stupidity and blunder of its leadership – instills hope that we can win this battle, despite the uneven balance of powers.
There is still hope
There is still hope that some influential people will stand up and say: enough of this stupidity, enough of this blind political force that is creating tomorrow's worst enemies, in the same way we created the Hizbullah and Hamas.
There is still a chance that those few sane people left in the cabinet, who have fallen asleep while on guard, will awaken from their slumber and say: we made a terrible mistake, we have turned the war into a substitute for policy instead of an outcome.
There is still hope that it will not be humanitarian tragedies such as the second village of Qana tragedy that will bring about a ceasefire, but rather diplomacy that will bring about a change by combining incentives and threats, not forceful coercion that only entrenches us deeper into the military quagmire.
And if we have the mental strength to admit our mistakes and try and learn from them, so as not to repeat them, then this will be Israel's greatest victory against the Hizbullah, against Iran and against all those forces posing a threat to our physical existence.
Zeev Maor is a professor of Political Science at the Tel Aviv University and University of California Davis