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.

The cease-fire itself is built on fragile assurances of a UN Security Council that, since our last withdrawal from Lebanon, only proved how empty its solemn guarantees can be.


But the one-month war in Lebanon was a total necessity and brought us the required results. We weakened Hizbullah significantly. Our sons demonstrated that, though we love life and the fanatic foe courts death as a supreme ideal, we can best them. The forces of life can triumph over the worshippers of death.

As a tactical move and as an expression of their Levantine mentality, the enemy and its supporters will wildly cheer their “victory,” as they’ve done in the past. In reality, Lebanon will lick its wounds for a long time and will hopefully learn that those who shelter a poisonous snake may at some point be bitten by it.

During our six-year absence from Lebanon that country was built up into a military arsenal of Iran, which denies the Holocaust and publicly calls for the destruction of the Zionist entity – for wiping Israel off the map. Any prolonged waiting would only have fortified our enemies who are sworn to our destruction.

Israel’s reaction to an unprovoked attack at its sovereignty was eminently justified. Not only we, but through us the world, now learned that the enemy, which ultimately threatens the whole of Western civilization, is diligently arming itself to its teeth with the most lethal weapons.

Of course the world may not wish to learn and may choose not to see, because of its perplexing predilection against Israel, that the nations backing Hizbullah refined its armed capability to an impressive degree. The Israeli Merkavah tank has been considered the ultimate in tank warfare, yet Israel’s greatest losses resulted from missiles that successfully penetrated the Merkavah armor, until now considered virtually invincible.

A comparison of the Katyusha impact of today with that of former confrontations also leaves us stunned at the vast improvement of the enemy’s arsenal. These are lessons to be taken into account not only by us, but also by all freedom-loving peoples.

And yet I see a victorious war behind us that, yes, took its painful casualties. Our brave sons who lost their lives died for the preservation of our state. And let us not forget: The State of Israel is the only Jewish state on the globe. We remain everlastingly thankful to our heroic sons who laid down their lives and to their families who will carry the pain of the loss to their last breath.

We know that at this stage the analytical Jewish mind will begin the process of dissecting the slightest blemish on the face of our country. And, no doubt, there are things that could have been done differently. There are a few facts, however, that may be worth remembering way past these trying days:

We have a great people. Our sisters and brothers in the North manifested remarkable endurance. Countrywide, our population exhibited an admirable generosity of spirit in its hospitality. Our young soldiers and the reserves demonstrated splendid patriotism, heroic dedication one to another, and a superhuman spirit of self-sacrifice in confronting an implacable enemy driven by blind hatred.

Remember, please, that while our goals were not all reached, these things still hold true: We have the best army. We are a superb nation. We are and shall remain the Eternal People.

We join in the hope and prayer that out of the turmoil of yesterday a brighter tomorrow shall dawn upon us and the Jewish People in its beloved homeland and everywhere.

Dr. Ervin Birnbaum has taught at City University of New York, Haifa University and the University of Moscow in the fields of Judaica and Public Law and Government. The author of several books and numerous articles, he served as national superintendent of education of Youth Aliyah for 10 years and as the first national superintendent of education for the Institute of Jewish Studies for five years.

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Dr. Ervin Birnbaum is founder and director of Shearim Netanya, the first outreach program to Russian immigrants in Israel. He has taught at City University of New York, Haifa University, and the University of Moscow; served as national superintendent of education of Youth Aliyah and as the first national superintendent of education for the Institute of Jewish Studies; and, at the request of David Ben-Gurion, founded and directed the English Language College Preparatory School at Midreshet Sde Boker.