Analysis: Hizbullah's 'victory' fest shows how values differ over the border

What is divine or victorious about a war in which so much death and destruction was caused?

By
September 22, 2006 01:07
2 minute read.
hizbullah militia 88 298

hizbullah militia 88 298. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
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On Friday afternoon a parade is to take place in southern Beirut to celebrate Hizbullah's "divine victory" over Israel. But what is divine or victorious about a war in which the organization lost a quarter of its fighters while causing Lebanon untold damage and more than 1,000 civilian deaths? And if Hassan Nasrallah is claiming victory, how, then, should we term our side of the war? On any scale - absolute or proportional - Israel's losses in life and material were much smaller than Hizbullah's. In addition, the security situation on the northern border has dramatically improved with the deployment of the Lebanese army and the multi-national force. But no victory parades are planned for the streets of Jerusalem. Instead, there's a deep feeling of frustration that things are not the way they should be. The main question being asked in advance of the Beirut celebration is whether Nasrallah will finally emerge from his hiding place of more than two months and appear in public. And if so, is there any chance that Israel will take advantage of the opportunity and complete an unfinished job? Nasrallah has nothing to worry about. About a month ago, a successful bombing of his bunker would have boosted morale and allowed Israel to end the war with an after-taste of victory. Now there might be a brief feeling of bitter satisfaction, but there is something Israelis would prefer by far to happen today: having Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev back home with their families for Rosh Hashana. And if the price of that, or even the price of seeing them safe sometime in the new year, is leaving Nasrallah alive, so be it. And that's another reason why there will be no victory parade in Jerusalem, even though we didn't lose this war. For the past month, the country has been heaving with demands of soldiers back from the battlefield, bereaved families, politicians and journalists for a collective resignation of the political and military leadership and a national process of criticism and purification. Those demands still exist, but the tones have softened somewhat. As the year draws to a close, Jews are called to a more private and personal reckoning of their actions throughout the past year. Those who left their families and workplaces, summoned to reserve units by midnight emergency phone-calls; others who took refugees of the bombarded Galilee into their homes; and the rest of the country who didn't give in to panic and despair and kept the economy running, can all enter Rosh Hashana with their heads held high. And they don't need a victory parade to know they've won. Military parades are foreign to Jerusalem; only a handful have taken place in Israel's 58 years, only one in over three decades. There is something faintly ridiculous about the notion, and the last time the IDF marched through the capital, on Jerusalem Day 1998, the event was dramatically scaled down. But foreigners still call Israel a militarist society. It's considered not politically correct, even racist, to say that a certain nation or religion values life less than others, so perhaps it is best just to restate the facts at the beginning of this column: 163 Israelis were killed in this war, three are still missing and this evening, we will begin 5767 chastened and with heavy hearts. Lebanon and Hizbullah lost about 2,000 lives in a month of war and today in Beirut, they're celebrating a "divine victory."

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