Is Olmert out of his depth?
This morning in Israel, Hizbullah terrorists came across the border from Lebanon and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Israel PM Ehud Olmert’s immediate reaction was as dramatic as it was clear and unequivocal: this was, he said, an Act of War.
Why was it an Act of War? Because one of the ministers in the Lebanese government is a member of the Hizbullah, and thus the government is responsible for what Hizbullah does.
He’s absolutely right, of course.
Meanwhile, Hamas terrorists came across the border from Gaza two weeks ago, and kidnapped an Israeli soldier. Hamas is in charge of the Palestinian Authority and its military. And Olmert has not called that an Act of War.
He’s trying to be political and play it from both sides. Especially with the immediate and obvious collaboration between Hizbullah and Hamas, Israel is now faced with a two-front war. That war will end when all soldiers are returned and hostilities cease — if necessary, with the white flag of surrender flying in Gaza City and Beirut. Anything less is continued appeasement, and will lead to yet more terrorism. It’s time to win the war.
Is Olmert out of his depth?
Well yes, he is. Just note Olmert’s most recent proclamation that Israel’s response to the latest attacks and kidnapping will be “very, very, very painful, but restrained” [sic]. What this means is not clear and we can presume that nobody will ask Olmert to explain its practical meaning or logical structure. I think we all know that there is none.
But Olmert’s obviously not the only one in Israel who’s out of his depth. There’s the Kadima party (whose slogan could be changed to “Only retreat can bring victory”). There’s also Labor and Likud and then there are the ‘enablers’: Shas, Agudah, Degel Hatorah and some other “sector parties” who support the policies (and non-policies) of whomever is in power in return for a slice of budget cake–national interest notwithstanding. So the real question is: is there any element of the Israeli political system that is willing to openly talk about (much less confront!) the country’s fundamental terrorism and security issues?
On a related note, the Olmert-directed and IDF-produced smoke and laser show in Gaza has given the lie to a post by R. Menken almost 2 weeks ago in which he called Israel’s “intransigence about negotiating” for Gilad Shalit’s release “a Kiddush HaShem”. In reality there’s been no “intransigence” aside from pinpoint strikes and just enough noise and action to keep the Israeli public from complaining that Olmert is utterly impotent in the face of security threats. Nor is calling the attacks today “an act of war” a “dramatic” “clear” or “unequivocal” move. It is the kind of official Israeli bombast that has become a substitute for policy.
Tough words from someone with an ambivalent relationship to the very State itself. As a religious man, I certainly hope you back your words up with prayers to Hashem to help. If so, I’d recommend a nice Mi Sheberach for Tzahal which can be inserted into tefillah as you desire. It can be found in many siddurim.
You wrote: “THE WAR WILL END…” Hopelessly optimistic. The war never ends.
Olmert is, indeed, out of his depth. He’s clueless about the spiritual dimensions of war and peace. He totally ignores the main actor and the prime mover–G-D.
The only “good” which may come out of this nasty business is the following: (1)We can once and for all dismiss the myth that the Israeli “settlers” are an obstacle to peace.This libel was never true but only served as a smoke screen to distract the Israeli population about who the real obstacle to peace was- namely the entire Palestinian population from the very top ranks down to the Arab “street”. (2)The concept of “land for peace” should be buried in the scrap heap of history. It was never a viable or realistic concept. Peace is a two-way street; the only thing you get for peace is peace in return. As for where do we go from here? The only practical road to true peace is a total and complete military victory leading to unconditional surrender by one side or the other. Unfortunately, it is unclear at this time which side will emerge victorious. While Israel has an overwhelming military advantage, the Palestinians seem to have a greater dedication to continue the war until Israel loses its will to destroy its enemy and gives up.The present Israeli leadership- both political and military, unfortunately don’t seem to be up to the task at hand.
I rather liked Yossi Klein Halevi’s take on this issue (quoted in Hirhurim):
Yossi Klein Halevi and company would do better to say before the unilateral withdraws that they do not expect peace. Very few people were prepared to support withdrawl while acknowledging it would not bring peace. The idea that we would have “a border from which we could more vigorously defend ourselves, with greater domestic consensus and international understanding” is also a bankrupt idea. We do not have any of those things in Gaza or Lebanon. Not international recognition, not internal consensus, definately not an easier time responding.
At this point we have tenuous international support, and this only because of the kidnapped soldiers and the fact that Israel’s response is limited. I am not a fan of Olmert and wish he would do alot more, but he is giving it to them as hard as any other government would, maybe even more so. He is hitting nice amount of infrastructure besieds for all the noise that he’s making.
Because Iran has become a threat to both the US and Saudi Arabia, the US is now allowing retaliation against Iran’s good friends, Hezbollah and Hamas. So the dithering Prime Minister and his dithering Defense Minister can now let the IDF proceed as far as the US will let it go.
Nevertheless, the US and Israel are still in denial about the terrorist inclinations of Abbas and his men, so the removal of Hezbollah and Hamas would not eliminate threats from the borders.
This is a time for tefillah. Our daily Amidah addresses the kind of management team we want in Yerushalayim.
Seth, you forgot to quote the rest of YKH\’s piece. \”it wasn\’t the rocket attacks that were a blow to the unilateralist camp, but rather Israel\’s tepid responses to those attacks. If unilateralists made a mistake, it was in believing our political leaders–including Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert–when they promised a policy of zero tolerance against anyattacks emanating from Gaza after Israel\’s withdrawal. That policy was not implemented–until two weeks ago. Now, belatedly, the Olmert government is trying to regain something of its lost credibility\”. In other words, the people who supported unilateral withdrawal hoping that it will lead to greater Israeli deterrence and better prosecution of war were wrong. The right wingers who said that israeli threats of retaliation would not help (because such threats would not be carried out) and situation would get worse were right.
“As a religious man, I certainly hope you back your words up with prayers to Hashem to help. If so, I’d recommend a nice Mi Sheberach for Tzahal which can be inserted into tefillah as you desire. It can be found in many siddurim.”
“Acheinu kol beis yisroel . . .” is also found in many siddurim and works just as well.