I once heard Bill Maher say that: “Israel has won every war she ever had to fight because she has to, she has no choice. If she loses she will be wiped off the map.”
In 2006, Israel was attacked by Hezbollah and was forced to go to war in Lebanon. The war had no frontline, it was Israelis in their home who were under attack by terrorists shooting missiles from the neighboring country, Lebanon. For 34 days Israelis in northern Israel (me included) hunkered down in bomb shelters while missiles slammed into our towns, our homes. We waited patiently while our soldiers took the battle to the terrorists who were attacking us, doing everything possible to make it stop.
We waited, never knowing when the next missile would come, never knowing where it would hit. Sometimes the air-raid siren worked. Sometimes it didn’t. I will never forget stepping outside after a missile slammed down behind my home and hearing the neighbor across the street screaming: “Why didn’t the siren go off??” That was the only warning we had to race to the bomb shelter, the only hope of protection. There was no Iron Dome then.
While our soldiers were battling for their lives and ours, we waited. Scary and difficult, we would wait however long it took. We didn’t mind.
Because we knew our soldiers would win.
The war ended with a UN brokered ceasefire on August 14, 2006. Israeli news commentators and security analysts told the people that while there was no visual that showed our decisive victory, Israel had won the war, Lebanon had been bombed back into the stone age (poor Lebanon that was being used as a launching pad for Hezbollah to wage a war) and that the IDF had destroyed much of Hezbollah’s missile arsenal.
Victory is similar to pornography. You might not know how to define what it is but you recognize it when you see it. Victory is not something that necessitates interpretation.
Since then, the Israeli government has carefully defined wars as “military operations.” Part of this is for financial reasons (the government is obligated to compensate citizens for financial loss due to war). I believe that this definition also has something to do with the idea that wars have to be won.
After Operation Pillar of Cloud in 2012, I finally understood the Israeli slogan: “Let the IDF win.” This is a plea to our politicians, not our enemies. The people have absolute faith in the IDF, it is our politicians that disappoint us time and time again. “Let the IDF win” means “please don’t pull defeat out of the jaws of victory. Please don’t get in their way. Let them do what they know how to do – win.”
Operation Pillar of Cloud began because the citizens of Israel were being bombarded by missiles from Gaza. In a period of eight days 1,506 rockets were launched at Israel. The entire south of the country was held hostage by this bombing, having to stay within a 15 seconds radius of a bomb shelter or risk death. Many homes were damaged. A number of people lost everything they had.
No sovereign country would allow missiles to be thrown at her civilians, at her towns, at the capital but Israel was supposed to “take it”.
It is hard to know exactly what went on behind closed doors. It is said that the then President Morsi of Egypt said that if IDF goes into Gaza he will break the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. It is said that Hilary Clinton banged on the table and threatened. What? Hard to say but in the end Israel received a pledge from President Obama that America would assist with funding for our Iron Dome anti-missile protection system. In future conflicts when our neighbors would again decide to bombard Israel with missiles, we could wait in bomb shelters until they decide to let us out. Thank you, Mr. Obama.
Operation Pillar of Cloud ended with a cease-fire agreement between a (supposedly) sovereign state and a terrorist organization. Instead of a decisive victory over terrorism, Hamas had been elevated to the level of a legitimate entity to negotiate with. The Arabs in Gaza and Ramallah had parties, celebrating their victory over Israel and the people of Israel were left to wait for the next “round”.
The next “round” came in 2014 with Operation “Protective Edge.” After 50 days of bombardment, thousands of missiles and other attacks, Hamas agreed to a ceasefire. The IDF completed each and every one of the goals defined by the Israeli government at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas achieved none of their goals and was left still standing only because Israel did not choose otherwise.
So, who won?
Western mindset says that of course Israel won but the problem is that we don’t live in the West. Middle Eastern logic says that the last man standing wins, (even if his arms are cut off and his eyes are gouged out) so to Hamas, not being destroyed by Israel meant that they won. They attacked Israel and survived. They sent millions scuttling to bomb shelters. Thousands of Israelis evacuated their homes because of the Hamas threat. Their few fighters managed to scare the goliath Israel, teaching all Israelis that no one is safe. 70 Israelis were killed, hundreds wounded. Homes and businesses were damaged, the economy badly hit. Air travel was threatened due to attacks on Israel’s international airport. They proved that the “resistance” still exists, giving those that prefer terror to negotiations an avenue to channel their hopes and desires. Glorious accomplishments!
Israel accepted the ceasefire an hour after a citizen was killed by Hamas rockets. During the fighting, Israel had declared numerous, incomprehensible ceasefires during which the IDF stopped fighting and Hamas continued. It was during one of these “ceasefires” that Major Benaya Sarel, Staff Sergeant Liel Gidoni and Lieutenant Hadar Goldin were murdered.
The ceasefires that made no strategic sense for a military intent on winning were attempts to appease US President Barack Obama.
Fast forward to today. Two weeks after Israeli policemen were murdered on the Temple Mount, after Israeli Arabs rioted in the streets screaming for the blood of Jews, after the Salomon family was viciously butchered in their own home, after Israeli Arabs applauded the terrorists as heroes – Muslims flew the PLO flag and the white flag of the Caliphate on the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
The short-lived attempts of the Israeli government to implement security measures on the Temple Mount seem utterly pathetic. Was it the riots that made them cave in to Muslim demands to remove absolutely all security measures? Was it a deal made with King Abdullah of Jordan for the release of an Israeli security guard who shot two Jordanians after being stabbed by one of them? Was it because the Saudis had requested the White House intervene? Or that Jews were being attacked in other places around the world including Turkey and London?
Likely it was all of the above reasons and more. We don’t know exactly what happened behind the scenes. What we do know is that yesterday we saw a hoard of ecstatic Muslims celebrating their historic victory over Israel. They had fought for sovereignty over the holiest place in the world for the Jewish people, in the heart of the capital of the Jewish State – and won.
They know what victory looks like.
They were so happy that their celebrations morphed into more riots and attacks on Israeli police.
While politicians and Middle East analysts discussed metal detectors the Arab world discussed sovereignty, declaring: “The Temple Mount is ours, Al Aqsa is ours. You have no right to be there at all. Only we will decide what happens there.”
My grandparents danced in the streets when the State of Israel was declared re-established. Yesterday it was Muslims dancing on the Temple Mount.
Michal Salomon described the terror attack in Halamish saying that it was as if she and her husband Elad made an unspoken pact to do whatever it took to save their children. Her job was to take them to safety while he delayed the terrorist, giving them time to escape. The reports coming out now tell us that this is exactly what happened. Elad battled the terrorist and when he could not beat him he held on to him in a bear hug while the terrorist stabbed him over and over and over. The terrorist plunged his knife into Elad more than 30 times but Elad did not, would not let him go.
For Elad, winning meant that his wife and children would live to see another day.
This is Israel. We who are sometimes called the Eternal Nation are not afraid of the long route. We are not afraid of pain and suffering. If that is what it takes to achieve victory, we can “take it”.
As long as, in the end, we win.
Victory is not a temporary win. It is clear, unequivocal, with no room for “alternative” explanations. I know what victory looks like and when it happens, so will everyone else.
After 3000 years we are not yet there. 69 years after the re-establishment of the State of Israel we are still not sovereign in our own capital. It will take the strength of Elad Salomon and the knowledge of eternity to get there.
I don’t want to “live to fight another day.” I want victory.
Do you dare dream of victory? If you dare dream it, you can make it real.
8 thoughts on “What victory looks like”
You have hit the nail on the head. It really is so simple that it’s incomprehensible to me how our leaders can’t see it. And if they can – which I fervently hope so – then why don’t they act on those principles, or at least give the long suffering Israeli public an explanation for their pusillanimity.
Kol hakavod on this essay. Please circulate it to the Knesset!
Thanks for your kind words. I don’t think my writing will make any impact on politicians. The change will not come from them but from us, each and every one of us making individual choices to stand up, to demand what is right and to teach our family and friends to do the same. If enough of us do this together, things will change.
We must be present, be seen and not move from where we belong.
You’ve reduced me to tears this time. I hope you run for office soon.
I’m not sure I would be suitable for public office. I just hope I can get enough people to begin to think differently