As the Hizbullah-Israel war wound down last week, pundits were quick to label winners and losers. Some said Hizbullah won because it survived, bombed Israel with 4,000 rockets, and earned the applause of the Arab "street." Others maintain that Israel won because Hizbullah was partially crippled, its leadership is in hiding, and the Lebanese will emerge from the dust furious at Hizbullah for a war they did not seek.
Our beloved Israel is engaged in an existential fight for survival. From the moment of its birth in 1948, Israel has been under constant siege. This latest war, however, feels different. It comes upon Israel after decades of non-stop terrorist attacks, large-scale military battles, and endless international boycotts and condemnation.
A general mood of depression has gripped Israel since the cease-fire in Lebanon came into force on Monday, August 14. It is unjustified. True, we again lost many precious sons in the quagmire of Lebanon. A large number of our soldiers and civilians are still crowding the hospitals, some of them seriously wounded. Our cities and settlements in the North suffered gaping wounds that will require months of rehabilitation.
On the advice of his halachic authority, Rabbi Slifkin refused to recant his books until he would be able to meet with the rabbis condemning the books.
It is as unpleasant as it is impolitic to point out - in wartime, especially - that, despite all protestations to the contrary, the emperor indeed has no clothes. Neither spin nor sloganeering can conceal from the Jewish public and world opinion the obvious deterioration of Israel's security situation.
With mounting evidence that Hizbullah-fired rockets can cause Israel considerable damage, one point should stand out glaringly above all others: Under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to reach the stage at which it could launch nuclear weapons.
Although we have been pressured into accepting a cease-fire, which will only give our enemies an opportunity to rebuild their war machine meant to destroy the Jewish people, this war has not come to an end. As with our previous wars, beginning with the war of liberation in 1948, we are continually forced to fight for the very existence of our people and the independence of the Jewish homeland.
There is a story told about the great Mirrer rosh yeshiva, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, zt"l. During the Six-Day War a bombshell landed near the yeshiva, just missing it. No one was injured. Rav Shmulevitz decided to make a seudas hoda'ah, a festive meal thanking God for this nes nistar (hidden miracle) that spared his students any injury.
The war in Lebanon should not have surprised anyone. For many years, Hizbullah, which is funded, equipped and ideologically supported by Iran and Syria, has made it crystal clear that its goal is to conquer Israel, expel its Jewish inhabitants, and place the entire land under Islamic rule.
What’s been most striking about the media coverage of the war between Israel and Hizbullah is the sheer familiarity of it all. It took many of the usual suspects about a week or so to get their preset narrative – both sides are blameworthy, Israel’s response is disproportional, an immediate cease-fire is the only answer, and can’t we all just get along? – up and running, but that’s exactly what happened as soon as Lebanese civilian casualties began to mount and inconveniences like background and context could be shunted off beyond camera range.
Humanitarian international law continues to correctly require that every use of force by an army or insurgent force meet the test of "proportionality." Going back to the basic legal principle that "the means that can be used to injure an enemy are not unlimited," proportionality stipulates (among other things) that every exercise of armed force be limited to the minimum application needed for operational success. More specifically, this ancient principle of customary international law applies to all judgments of military advantage and to all planned reprisals.
The world is full of Israel-haters. I don't know why. It probably has something to do with anti-Semitism - and even more to do with lack of knowledge and understanding about the Middle East.