Walter's Israel journal (Part 2): War analysis


Part 2 of Walter's report contains his observations on the political and military situation.

Pnina’s response (see previous post) seemed to me axiomatic of the trademark ain breirah (no alternative) attitude manifested by most of the Israelis I met during a week-long sojourn in the Jewish state during the second week of August, both in the so-called ‘red zone’ in the northern part of the country where the missiles have been falling in great numbers, as well as in the remainder of the country where life has continued more or less normally; except that every family seems to have a son or daughter in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) serving inside Lebanon or providing logistical support on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

On one hand, Israelis are tough and resilient and determined at all costs to survive and thrive, despite the difficult challenges they are now confronting. On the other hand, there is a palpable sense of frustration that their vaunted IDF, which destroyed the armies of three Arab states in seven days in 1967, has been unable to break the 3000-strong Hezbollah militia in the course of over a month and has taken heavy casualties; and that the overpowering Israeli bombing of southern Lebanon that caused hundreds of Lebanese civilian deaths and caused sharp international criticism of Israel, has not succeeded in preventing Hezbollah from lobbing missiles across northern Israel, with the largest daily number of missiles hitting northern Israeli cities like Haifa, Nahariya, Safed and Kiryat Shmona on the last day before a shaky cease-fire was declared.

Unlike past wars during which Israelis manifested an almost breezy sense of self-assurance, today a visitor feels from Israelis from all walks of life a palpable sense of insecurity and even of existential dread; a sense that in the cohorts of Hezbollah, Israel has finally met its match; coming up against an implacable Arab foe that, impelled by an intense Islamic faith, might prove impossible to eradicate. If that is truly the case, and if the élan motivating Hezbollah and Hamas spreads and fires the rest of the Arab world with the spirit of Saladin, then the very survival of Israel is at risk.