Friday, September 01, 2006

Israel: war of the generals

Signs of a "war of the generals" are appearing in Israel, according to the Jordanian daily al-Ghad.

Reporting from news agencies, al-Ghad reports that generals in Israel's army reserves are leading a campaign to pressure the Israeli chief of staff Dan Halutz to acknowledge that the attack on Lebanon was a failure and calling for his resignation. Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz has already admited that the attack was a failure, but blamed it on his predecessor Shoal Mofaz! These efforts will increase in the coming week after a meeting of the generals to look at the running of the attack, including military planning, reports al-Ghad.

I find this unfortunate in one way. The failure wasn't that the generals or politicians planned poorly, or that the reserves were unprepared. The failure was thinking that you can defeat a broadbased and popular armed social movement through overwhelming and merciless military force. This mistaken assumption is one that is widely shared in Israeli and even American society. What the reserve generals are doing, which is supported by much of the Israeli public, is finding a convenient scapegoat for the failure in understanding the nature of the conflict Israel finds itself in.

This fact is found in the second half of the al-Ghad article, in which Jan Egeland, a UN official warns of Gaza being a ticking time bomb. As Egeland states, "You can't close an area in which 1.4 million people live, 800,000 of them youth, and drop hundreds of bombs on them daily."
Egeland and many others expect a massive "social explosion", noting the degree of instability and stress in perhaps the world's largest prison.

The most important result of failure is to learn the proper lessons from it. Isrealis apparently have not managed to do that. They can find all the excuses they want for their failure, or all the simplistic arguements about how they won. But until they recognize that peace will only come through negotiations and compromise with it's neighbors, as much as Israelis detest them, they will continue to wrack up military, moral and political failures.

And if Israelis don't learn this lesson soon, and change course, it may possibly lead them to their biggest failure of all, that of the entire Zionist project of creating a Jewish state in Palestine.

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