Sunday, August 20, 2006

Comfort ye, my people

I don't know if Israel or Hizbollah won this particular round of war between them. What would "winning" consist of, in any case? If Israel won, it still won't bring back to life the ca. 150 Israelis killed in the war, or the 1200 Lebanese killed in the war - civilian and fighters. Nor will it make the rubble in Lebanon suddenly turn back into buildings, nor the buildings hit by Katyushas in Israel suddenly be rebuilt, nor cause the forests of the Galilee set on fire by the Katyushas suddenly sprout anew as tall as they were at the beginning of the summer.

As far as the the current "Great Game" now being played between the U.S. and Iran is concerned, this is probably just a skirmish - on the way to Iran gaining nuclear weapons and the U.S. losing all of its rapidly diminishing influence in the Middle East. It is hard to believe that this war has made Israel safer, nor really diminished Hizbollah's strength, no matter how many fighters were killed or bunkers destroyed. I remember in Vietnam, the U.S. government always touted the number of Vietcong killed, as if this were a measure of victory.

For some sensible words, read Doron Rosenblum of Haaretz
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But to both those who send us into battle in order to derive joy from our performance, and those among us who are thoroughly depressed by the results of the war, it must be said: Comfort, comfort, my people. With all the acute importance of military might, Israel cannot be solely a derivative of victories or tactical defeats on the battlefield. Its existence is far richer and far more meaningful and varied than that.

If the Israeli mentality is "inferior" to that of Hezbollah, Iran and Hamas in that it does not seek suicidal death, the virgins in Paradise and genocide for its neighbors; if Israel has pity on the lives of its sons, on its comfort, on the nurturing of its landscapes and even on bed and breakfasts, wineries and the pleasures of life, it is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary: We shall proudly bear our weaknesses as fragile, vulnerable human beings.

Israel is not Sparta, and this is a good thing. It was not established in order to be a spearhead against global Islam, or in order to serve as an alert squad for the Western world. It was established in order to live in it. And after the obvious is stated - with respect to the importance of might and strength - this too shall be said: Unlike some of its enemies, Israel has a far more means of existential solace - in vitality, culture and in creativity - than the planting of a flag of victory among the ruins.

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