For generations of Diaspora Jews raised on the idea of an invincible Israel, the last month has been something of a blow. While historians will probably have better luck sorting out the results of the recent weeks of fighting between Israel and its Hizbullah antagonists than journalists, there is little question that the result was a lot less than most of Israel's supporters in this country were expecting.
Clichéd postmortems analyzing Israel's failure to deal Hezbollah a clear defeat miss the point in blaming Prime Minister Olmert's lack of military experience or native ineptness. The key reasons for Israel's poor performance are deeper and far more ideological.
If a truly independent Israeli government inquiry is commissioned to scrutinize all aspects of the Jewish state's recent war against Hizbullah, the two Israeli political leaders most likely to undergo the most severe grilling are former prime minister Ehud Barak and the current premier, Ehud Olmert.
Unless you know your way around the blogosphere or get your news from publications like the Malaysia Sun, Australia’s Sunday Morning Herald or Germany’s Die Welt, you likely missed the story last week that some 84 Hollywood celebrities – actors, directors and producers – had signed an ad condemning Hizbullah and Hamas that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
In an ancient myth, the Greek gods condemn Sisyphus to roll a great rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone will inevitably fall back of its own weight. By imposing this terrible judgment the gods had prescribed the dreadful punishment of interminable labor. But they also revealed something vastly more difficult to understand, namely, that even such useless labor need not be altogether futile. Such labor, they knew, could also be heroic.
Undeterred by the Heathrow shutdown, I turned up for the Aug. 10 night flight to Israel. I had no business there and no formal holiday plans. I just felt I needed to be there, perhaps to help out friends and family whose breadwinners had been called up for reserve duty.
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.