hizbullah flag 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
'These are the times that try men's souls," as Thomas Paine wrote during America's Revolutionary War. Israel is at war with a terrorist army, one that proudly targets our civilian population while hiding behind its own. It is a war Israel must win.
Winning any war is not easy, but this case is made particularly difficult by the asymmetrical standards for victory. By normal military standards, Hizbullah's ambush of IDF forces in Bint Jbail in which eight of our soldiers were killed was a defeat for Hizbullah, in that even our weakened force was able to kill most or all of its attackers, and Hizbullah was unable to capture any of our soldier's bodies. The IDF estimates that dozens, perhaps up to 100, of the Hizbullah terrorists were killed by the IDF that day.
But these battles are not being measured in normal military terms. As our reporter, Khaled Abu Toameh, noted in an analysis in Thursday's Post, "Arabs are once again talking about shattering the myth that has haunted them since the humiliating defeat of the Arab armies in 1967 - that the IDF is invincible."
Abu Toameh continued, "Many note that it took the IDF only six days to crush the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq," while the current fighting against a militia has already taken two weeks, and seems not to be near over.
Israel can inflict heavy casualties on Hizbullah and substantially degrade its missile capability, without achieving victory; All Hizbullah needs to do is to kill some Israeli soldiers and avoid total destruction to capture the imagination of the Muslim world.
Many Arabs, Abu Toameh finds, believe recent history is composed of a string of Israeli defeats. The first intifada in the late 1980s forced Israel to accept Oslo and to withdraw from Palestinian cities. Hizbullah forced Israel to unilaterally withdraw from Lebanon in May 2000, this narrative claims. Then the even more violent Palestinian terror campaign that began in late 2000 apparently led to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, including the destruction of Israeli settlements.
The lesson that many Arabs draw from this litany is that Hizbullah and Hamas are right: use enough force for long enough and Israel will capitulate.
Most Israelis, of course, read this history entirely differently. In particular, this latest conflict has dealt a terrible blow to the Palestinian claim that its struggle is nationalist and has nothing to do with the global jihad against the West. It is no coincidence that the Islamization of the Arab-Israel conflict has led to unprecedented international support for Israeli military actions, placing blame for the conflict on Hizbullah, and agreement that Hizbullah must not be tolerated, but rather disbanded.
The vocal support by Hamas, Hizbullah and their allies and masters in Teheran for what Yossi Klein Halevi has called the "theology of genocide" against Israel may be slowly ripping the mask off the Arab struggle against Israel. Yet as important as such a shift may be for the understanding of what Israel is facing, it is is far from complete, and it is no substitute for inflicting an undeniable defeat on the jihadis in the war they have just launched against the Jewish state.
Pictures of Hassan Nasrallah are now being held a loft in places like Cairo and Ramallah. He, like Gamal Abdel Nasser, Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein in the past, are being embraced by Arabs who consider their own governments too weak in their enmity for Israel.
Many other Arabs, of course, realize that following belligerent dictators has brought only misery and failure to the Arab world. But how do we in the West ensure that Muslim voices of reason are ascendant, rather than those excited by the drums of war?
After 9/11, the Muslim street - especially the Palestinian one - let out a great cheer for Osama Bin Laden. This bloodthirsty enthusiasm was quickly muffled by the dispatch of the Islamist regime in Afghanistan and the driving of al-Qaida underground, and later by the ouster and capture of Saddam Hussein.
Now there is a danger that a failure to decisively defeat Hizbullah could join the failure to defeat the jihad in Iraq and the feckless response to both Iran's support for terrorist offensives and its defiant nuclear drive. The tentacles of the global jihad, led by Iran, have come to Israel. Israel must, for its own sake and the world's, do its utmost to ensure their undeniable destruction.