For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
A few weeks shy of the tenth anniversary of Israel's May 24, 2000 unilateral withdrawal from south Lebanon, last Friday mass-circulation daily Yediot Ahronot chose to devote its weekend news supplement to a retrospective on the event. The retrospective included a fawning five-page interview with Defense Minister Ehud Barak who ordered the withdrawal during his tenure as prime minister and defense minister. It also included a two-page spread featuring interviews with the IDF commanders who carried out the withdrawal recalling their adrenalin rushes as they retreated their forces across the border.
Nearly hidden between the two puff pieces was a little article titled "We told you so."
It featured an interview with retired far-left Knesset member Yossi Sarid who opposed the withdrawal. Sarid told Yediot that in hindsight, he's glad the withdrawal went through even though it led directly to the wars that followed. Following Sarid's self-congratulatory modesty, Yediot gave former defense minister Moshe Arens and Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau a sound bite apiece to lash out at the withdrawal. That base covered, the paper dismissed them both as "right-wingers."
ALTHOUGH UPSETTING, Yediot's treatment of the Lebanon withdrawal was not surprising. The unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon -- which was a failure on every rational level -- was a strategy concocted and championed for the better part of a decade by Yediot and its media colleagues at Israel Radio. The paper's decision to publish a ten-year anniversary retrospective two weeks early was undoubtedly an attempt to preempt and prevent any further discussion of the withdrawal.
Yediot praised the retreat as a work of operational genius because no one was wounded, kidnapped or killed during the 48-hour operation. Of course, by presenting force protection as the IDF's highest goal, the paper ignored basic strategic realities.
The fact is that the withdrawal was an operational fiasco. In its rush to the border, the IDF left behind huge quantities of sensitive equipment that Hizbullah commandeered. Israel abandoned thousands of loyal allies from the South Lebanon Army and their families to the tender mercies of Hizbullah. These were men who had fought shoulder to shoulder with the IDF since 1982. Those that managed to escape to Israel before the gates were locked were treated as unwanted dead-weight by Barak and his media flacks who couldn't be bothered with the treachery at the heart of the operation.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"