Ha’aretz’s resident Jeremiah, Ari Shavit, paints a pretty grim picture about where the past two years have left Israel vis-à-vis its enemies:
Here are the results of Israel’s war against Hezbollah so far. Hezbollah is bringing home a living murderer, and Israel is bringing home two dead soldiers - over whose capture it sacrificed 160 other soldiers and civilians.
Hezbollah celebrates a symbolic victory, and Israel is in ideological crisis.
Hezbollah has won almost complete political control over Lebanon, and Israel wallows in irrevocable political chaos.
Hezbollah is armed with 40,000 rockets threatening most of Israel’s territory, while Israel has no response.
Hezbollah increases its firepower four or five times, and Israel remains feebly silent.
Hezbollah doubles its fighting alignment and sets up numerous outposts north and south of the Litani River, which will force Israel to conquer half of Lebanon in the next confrontation, while Israel remains paralyzed with confusion.
Feeling its power, Hezbollah is demanding the Shaba Farms area as well, while Israel is stammering its way to the next withdrawal.
Two years after an ephemeral militia provoked a regional superpower, the militia is growing stronger than ever, and the regional superpower is in a state of turmoil, degeneration and foggy stupor.
And, he argues, things aren’t much better on the Palestinian, Iranian and Syrian fronts.
Read the full article here.
Hat tip: Jeffrey Goldberg
UPDATE: It is worth noting that not everyone in the Arab press is hailing Hezbollah’s “victory.”
Ha’aretz’s Ari Shavit poses the following hypothetical:
In November, after Senator Barack Obama becomes president-elect of the United States, outgoing president George W. Bush inflicts a severe blow on Iran. That could take the form of a naval siege, the flexing of American military muscle, or even an all-out air strike targeting Iran’s nuclear program.
Under ordinary circumstances, people would reject out of hand such a wild scenario. The American public does not support the idea of opening a second front in the Middle East, and America’s political, military and intelligence establishments are fearful. A military move, even a semi-military one, carried out by an outgoing president would be unprecedented and illegitimate; it would be perceived as the final insane trumpet call of a thoroughly off-the-wall administration with a committed religious outlook.
He thinks that this scenario may have “little likelihood” of happening, but, he adds, “little likelihood is not zero likelihood.”
The upshot of confronting Iran? Shavit writes:
Ha’aretz’s Ari Shavit renders a harsh verdict on the tenure of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Despite Olmert’s “many good qualities,” Shavit writes, the prime minister “has no core. He has no Tablets of Stone. In the most profound sense, he does not know where he came from and where he is going.” And the result, according to Shavit, has been failure on many fronts.
These were two important years during which Israel’s prime minister was supposed to strengthen the country before the major historic test of the end of the decade. During these years he was supposed to pursue peace and prepare for war. To prepare the ground for dividing the country and prepare people’s hearts for a struggle for the country. To stop Iran, test Syria and exhaust Hamas. To establish Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic nation state. To restore to Israel the qualities of a country characterized by excellence. To rehabilitate statesmanship and renew meaningfulness. To provide the state with diplomatic tools, national pride and a sense of direction.
Olmert did none of this. He promised convergence, and changed his mind. He promised an end to the conflict, and disappointed us. He failed in the Second Lebanon War and failed to understand its significance. He did something, but not enough, on the crucial issue of Iran. He is losing precious time before entering negotiations with Syria, he did not formulate an overall and consistent strategy vis-a-vis Hamas and did not prepare the country for a future evacuation of the settlements. He did not spur the nation to stand behind the Israel Defense Forces and strengthen them.
So as far as foreign affairs and security are concerned, the prime minister has stagnated over the past two years. But as far as domestic affairs and society are concerned, Olmert caused tremendous damage. He did not carry out the necessary revolution in the school system. He brought about a destructive revolution in the justice system, surrendered unconditionally to Shas, encouraged centralization in the economy and accepted the widening gaps in society. Under Olmert, Israel has become a reckless country that abandons the weak and helpless. Mutual responsibility has been eroded, social justice has been trampled. Corruption has become widespread.
See the full article.
What a difference three years makes. Now, Harry has shaped up into a model citizen. It was recently revealed (by the loose lips of the Drudge Report) that Harry had been fighting on the frontlines in Afghanistan with Her Majesty’s armed forces in Afghanistan.
Ha’aretz’s resident Jeremiah, Ari Shavit, writes that Israel’s elites could learn something from the fighting prince:
Prince Harry neither requested nor received a service posting close to home. He didn’t return to Buckingham Palace every evening, and didn’t go to Windsor every weekend. Like everyone else, like the commoners, Prince Harry ate crap in the bloody sands of Afghanistan. Because Prince Harry is a British prince, not an Israeli one.
Israel has no royal family. Neither does it have a real aristocracy. But Zionism is to a large degree a project of elites. Israel would not have been established or survived without the elites of the First and Second Aliyah, the Palmah strike force, the special IDF Unit 101, and the Nuclear Research Center.
These were elites who served voluntarily. They were “what you can do for your country” elites, not “what your country do for you” types. They knew that those who bear a nation’s coat of arms must be committed to the nation, that whoever stands at the head of the people can only lead from the front.
The present oligarchy isn’t like that. Many in it believe, wrongly, that they can take without giving, lead without serving. This oligarchy must be called to order. It must understand what the House of Windsor knows: If it wants to preserve the privileges it has taken for itself in the last decades, its place is now in Ashkelon and Sderot.
Its sons belong in the combat units. Like the British royal family, the Israeli power families must take responsibility — like Prince Harry, the Israeli princes must return and go to wars.
Read Shavit’s full article here.
UPDATE: It turns out that the loosest lips belonged not to the Drudge Report, but to an Australian women’s magazine — though at least the loose lips of the magazine New Idea are apologetic ones (and were apparently only inadvertently loose).