Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Turning achievement into failure - Adopting the enemy's narrative

Dror Eydar..
Israel Hayom..
28 November '12..

We have tired of the choir of the defeated and downtrodden, the voices of the dime-a-dozen strategists who have no real clue what is actually happening in Gaza, Cairo, Washington and Jerusalem, but who nonetheless declare "we lost," "we were dealt a mighty blow" and "oh my, what has befallen us?" Hamas terrorists crawled out of their holes and crevices in which they hid during Operation Pillar of Defense, glanced around them, observed the destruction caused by their arrogance and began to list each and every one of their foundational principles that went up in smoke during the operation. They knew exactly who won and who lost.

But yet they still turned to the cameras and presented their voices of thunder from Gaza; their take on Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's confidence-exuding raves. They distributed sweets to the depressed people of Gaza to soften the images of destruction all around them and forced some of their subjects to participate in their victory celebrations. Anyone who hasn't seen such celebrations before, has not experienced true joy. But veteran Gazans know how to do the math when it comes to gains and losses. From the first Wednesday of the confrontation, until the next Wednesday when it ended, just one week rather than three weeks or 33 days, with many casualties and large-scale structural ruin, thousands of refugees, and an enemy who hardly experienced the same, they truly won.

They remember how the north looked after the Second Lebanon War during which hundreds of rockets rained down on our cities, and how the south looked after Operation Cast Lead. Now the Zionists have developed a machine that has neutralized the sting from their leaders' threats. They know that most Israelis urged the government to launch a ground assault and to strike deeper in Gaza. They also saw the enthusiasm of our reservists as they were called up for a possible ground operation. They know the truth.

But they listen to us and hear the voices of weeping, whining and lamentations, declarations of "we lost" and "we have been utterly humiliated" and they are confused. Wait one moment, they say, if this is what the Israelis are saying, perhaps our own crooked leaders are right?


For decades we have been repeating the same mistake regarding the way we present ourselves to our neighbors and enemies. We always end up adopting their false narratives. Each Yom Kippur since the war in 1973, the only things we mention about that war is our "failure," "defeat" and the "price" we paid. Two years ago, I participated in a university course on military history. One session focused on analyzing the Yom Kippur War and I wasn't surprised at all when the lecturer, a well-known researcher, described the war as one of the most astounding victories in military history. It was our victory, Israelis pointed out, over the Egyptians and Syrians.

But in Israel, we love to mourn. It's a sort of hobby of ours that we have adopted since the destruction of the Second Temple. Hamas was beaten this time as well. Its heavy weapons were destroyed, its leaders were eliminated, its government offices were leveled, our intelligence exposed its leaders as if they appeared in the open markets, and even Egypt was revealed to be no great supporter of their cause in a time of trouble for them. Although it's true that we wanted to continue to strike them hard and watch them crawl and beg for someone to save them and for a cease-fire, that is actually what they did behind the curtain.

And what about a ground assault? If an army does not take over territory and remain there for a while as we did during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, why launch a ground assault? By the way, contrary to what was written by left-wing reporters, there were those even on the ideological Right who opposed a ground assault. They understood that entry into Gaza just to leave soon afterward was obsolete. Another point is that Israel's honor is indeed a strategic asset, especially in our region of the world, and our leaders had this value in mind when the varied Forum of Nine ministers made its decisions. The decision to agree to a cease-fire was made despite that highly esteemed value and perhaps because of it. We do not have enough information about that because no one in the media or foreign politics has the entire picture, making the speculations substantially less than accurate.

In addition, we should never take our minds off the Iranian issue, just like the escalation in the south before the recent Gaza confrontation and during the operation distracted the world from the Islamic republic's nuclear activities. Only time will tell if that will continue to be the case.

We have enough experience to know that wars do not end on the battlefield, but only in people's minds. The real battle is over the enemy's consciousness. It is important to vocalize our detailed and even harsh criticisms to ensure our improvement the next time around. But we must not play into the enemy's hands with our suicidal tendency to turn an achievement into a failure, a day of rejoicing into a day of mourning. As I wrote at the end of the operation: This is just a cease-fire, and a recess ends when the bell is sounded.


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