Aug. 17: War's lessons

The major lesson of the war is that Israel can no longer rely on the leftist mantra that Israel need not fear conventional war.

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August 16, 2006 19:53
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War's lessons Sir, - The lessons of the Lebanon war are likely to be slightly different from Daoud Kuttab's somewhat misleading one - that negotiations can do what military means cannot, and Israel should therefore again prepare to cede land to the Palestinians. In fact, the major lesson of the war for Israel is that it can no longer rely on the leftist mantra that Israel is so strong militarily it need not fear conventional war, and thus can concede land. It would seem that Israel faces missile threats - from Hizbullah, Syria, Iran and even possibly Egypt - to which it has no definite answer. This mandates greater emphasis on militarily strengthening to meet these threats, especially the existential Iranian one. Another lesson is that "withdrawals" do not bring peace but invite aggression and violence, in Gaza as well as Lebanon. Political conclusion: Israel cannot afford to withdraw from Judea and Samaria, enabling it to become what the Palestinians are already claiming they must make it - a missile site from which they can strike into the heart of Israel ("Lessons of the Lebanon war," August 16). SHALOM FREEDMAN Jerusalem Sir, - This was not victory for Israel - that is true. But in a sense it was more. Muslim leaders worldwide saw that the rocket assault on Israel was ineffective. The damage to Israel was disproportionate to the Iranian-Syrian investment and preparations, and to its economy negligible. Israeli casualties, though causing us great pain, were insignificant compared to the scale of the assault, and the effect on Israel's military capacity was close to zero. In contrast, the damage to the aggressor was immense. JOSEF POSLAVSKI Kiryat Yam Don't be morose Sir, - Eetta Prince-Gibson's morose column was shocking in its breast-beating ("The failure to keep our children safe," August 16). While we made some errors in judgment and gained very little during this last month's nasty confrontation with Hizbullah, we must not descend into a state of national depression. If we allow ourselves that luxury, then truly the other side has won! We must pick ourselves up and rebuild what was broken. And we must teach the next generation to be ever-watchful and learn as much about our enemy as possible. We can still enjoy our lives and hope to live them within our borders in peace; but we must never fall asleep again. Most importantly, we can't allow hindsight by political pundits to paralyze us with recriminations. ALIZA WEINBERG Rehovot 'Your turn' Sir, - Until now mighty America has been "encouraging" little old Israel to do something about Hizbullah. Isn't it time for little old Israel to "encourage" mighty America to do something about Iran? SYLVIA WEINER Netanya Premature populism? Sir, - Re "Unworthy of command?" (Yaakov Katz and Anshel Pfeffer, August 16)): In Israel there's a tendency to jump to conclusions before all the facts are known. Responsibility for handling the fighting also reaches back to previous governments, which cut funding for defense, with the inevitable effect on reserve training and equipment. Why wasn't the Nautilus laser cannon developed, a system able to intercept and destroy Katyushas? Perhaps the Four Mothers should also be in the dock since they pushed for unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, allowing Hizbullah up to the border? Perhaps journalists should be examined following sensational and inaccurate reports? Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz is a convenient scapegoat because his (legal and private) decision to sell his shares looks like bad timing. But the issue is irrelevant, blown up beyond all justification. Halutz is a brave pilot who has dedicated his life to the IDF and worked day and night for Israel. It is possible that he made conceptual errors, but he also had many achievements. ANTHONY S LUDER Rosh Pina Sir, - Either the chief of staff was guilty of classic insider trading, liquidating his investment portfolio knowing that a war was in the offing and that the markets would tumble, or he was autistically unaware of what was about to happen to the nation, which is even more unforgivable. Either way he is culpable, and as your correspondents have pointed out, he is a throwback to a previous and discredited type of military leader whose hubris (and apparent incompetence) fulfills John Gray's famous poetic dictum, "The paths of glory lead but to the grave." ALAN CLAYMAN Petah Tikva Sir, - What makes Dan Halutz's sale of stock immoral is not that he was thinking of his pocket with war on the horizon. Buying stock in a nation's companies is an expression of optimism in the success of that country's business enterprise and belief in its general future. But it is unthinkable for the army's chief of staff, on the one hand, to send boys out to fight and, in many tragic cases, die for their country, and with the other hand withdraw belief in and support for the nation's financial survival. If Halutz was so pessimistic about Israel's future success as reflected in our free markets, he had no business sending the boys to war. SHOSHANA WEINSTEIN Kfar Adumim Sir, - In some countries people who enter public service place their investment portfolio in a "blind trust" which is managed without their knowledge until the end of their term in office. This prevents improprieties. In the absence of that there is nothing wrong with the chief of staff communicating with the bank about his modest holdings. What is wrong is the unmitigated slander being heaped on him at a time when the country has so much pain and real concerns to reflect on. It is the slanderers who should be condemned. ALFRED INSELBERG Ra'anana Radical rethink Sir, - All talk about UN resolutions and agreements with Islamists is delusional ("Livni: diplomatic initiatives are the next step," August 16). The Koran instructs Arabs to make treaties with the infidel - non-Muslims - only on condition that the time bought thereby can be used for rearming before the next battle. If Israel and the West understand this, they too must use the time bought by the cease-fire to prepare for the next battle. Otherwise the initiative is conceded to the forces of evil, and they will continue to make gains. The war will end only when Islamism is rejected by all, or all Islamists are dead. Until that happens you cannot make peace, only secure yourself against their war. Think post-Oslo, not post-Zionist. ALEKSANDRS LAURINS Riga Unhappy hookahs Sir, - The Jerusalem Municipality, for the 30th time, has provided a splendid arts and crafts fair ("Changing ideas about Israel at Hutzot Hayotzer arts fest," On-Line Edition, August 16). One disturbing aspect, however, is an area set up with rows of hookah pipes for public use. Young children too are taking advantage of this "service." The myth that this form of smoking is harmless has long been dispelled. Studies show it is actually more dangerous than cigarette smoking due to the massive volume of smoke inhaled and the mixture of hydrocarbon gases and poisonous metals in the smoke from the burning coal. The concentration of lead, arsenic, nicotine and other products in the tobacco equals that of 20 cigarettes, making water pipe use equivalent to smoking one pack! The pipe is passed from mouth to mouth. This "cultural experience," provided with taxpayers' money, is addictive as well as enticing. PENNY SARACIK Jerusalem Sir, - Dan Halutz may have had a role in the failure of this war, but it is not a result of his investment instructions to his bank. The soldiers performed wonderfully and showed devotion to their men and to country beyond the call of duty. The miserable performance of our politicians and media is what aided the enemy and led to our non-victory and tremendous loss of life and limb, homes and places of work. Let the significant people be called to task. Let's not get diverted by this media spin. ZECHARIA DOR-SHAV Jerusalem

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