It appears that Israel’s public opinion has given a chilly reception to two significant security-diplomatic moves that have been formulated here in recent weeks. A dour mood has taken over the country, and this dourness is misplaced.
This chilly reception I’m talking about pertains to the prisoner swap vis-à-vis Hizbullah in the north that is good for the Israeli interest, and even more so pertains to the ceasefire vis-à-vis Hamas in the south.
Even if some of the reasons for this dourness are understandable, overall it is rather worrisome and even dangerous.
The rightist camp will accompany the expected lull with cries of distress. These should be taken with a grain of salt. They will bemoan the damage to Israel’s national strength yet what truly scares them is the quiet. We have already learned that the fruit of normalization ripen quickly.
A return to a normal daily routine on both sides of the border and a deal on a prisoner and captive swap are an Israeli interest no less so than a Palestinian one. Once upon a time, not that long ago, this assumption was accepted by large parts of the Israeli public. It may quickly gain renewed popularity; we simply forgot a little bit the taste of life without war.
Our heart goes out to Gilad Shalit’s father, Noam, and his pain, yet in the face of his outcry Wednesday we can present a counter-argument: A lull could actually facilitate the trust needed in order to finalize a deal that would bring Gilad back home; after all, he has not returned home without a lull in place.
We need a ‘tiger’In light of all of this, it is particularly unfortunate to see the Israeli government not fully backing the truce deal. It is difficult to complain about the opposition when even senior government officials are quick to predict that the ceasefire will be “brief and fragile.”
This is a worrisome message to the public, and even more so to the defense establishment. Too many times in the past it has been proven that the element that poses the greatest threat to lulls in fighting is the IDF’s light finger on the trigger.
We should hope that this challenge is not beyond the abilities of the crumbling Olmert-Barak government. If there is still any leadership left in Jerusalem, please step forward now.
Georges Clemenceau, France’s prime minister early in the 20th Century, once declared that “war is too serious a matter to entrust to military men.” We can certainly apply his statement to a ceasefire as well. Clemenceau was nicknamed “The Tiger” – it won’t hurt if we had a tiger of our own.