They never lose, we never win [p. 15]

And as long as the Arab street remains convinced that it is winning, the conflict with Israel will only intensify.

hizbullah funeral 298.88 (photo credit: Associated Press)
hizbullah funeral 298.88
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The recent war against Hizbullah ended - as have all Arab-Israeli wars - in "victory" for the Arabs and "defeat" for Israel. This is the message rife in the Muslim world, and it is also the consensus of opinion of the "experts" in the European and North American media. This message is abetted by our own "peace-seekers at any cost," who are eternally convinced that if we only made nice to the Arabs all of our security problems would be solved. The tendency in the Arab world never to admit defeat hinders efforts to allow reality to influence their view of the Middle East and the shortcomings within their own society. If the Arabs never lose, why should they halt their disastrous struggle against Israel's existence? Nasser never admitted defeat in the Six Day War. Sadat and Assad never admitted defeat after the Yom Kippur War. Egypt still celebrates the anniversary of the "October War" as a great victory of Egyptian arms. Arafat never admitted that his intifadas were a bloody failure. He also preserved the myth that he was never wrong. And for that, in spite of his venality, corruption and the misery he brought to the Palestinians, he was beloved by the masses. IN THE ARAB world victory is achieved by proclamation, regardless of the real results of the conflict. As long as the Arab (and Iranian) street is convinced that their side is winning and never losing, we can only expect the conflict with Israel to continue, and even intensify. All the saber-rattling of Iran and Syria stems from this false view of reality. The few brave voices in the Arab world who have spoken up realistically about Lebanon, Hizbullah and Israel are either in exile or in hiding. Never understanding what Israel represents to the Jews, denying the Jewish past and even the Holocaust, not appreciating the strength of the people of Israel and instead concentrating on the bombast and hollowness of our erstwhile political leaders and self-hating media, the Arabs in their fantasies are convinced that one more war will wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Doctored photos, biased reporting and tendentious analysis have all conspired to create the impression of Arab victory. As long as these delusions prosper there is no chance for a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Sobering as this conclusion is, realizing its truth will at least strengthen our resolve and prevent us from repeating past mistakes. THE OTHER side of this coin is that we never win. We always concentrate on our failures and not on our accomplishments. The fact that the Israeli population stood up to the thousands of rockets rained on the Galilee is itself an enormous victory, albeit bought at great tragedy and cost. Hitler's road to defeat began with the determination of the British people not to be crushed by the aerial blitz launched against them. I shudder to think what would be the situation in France or the United States if those countries had to absorb thousands of rockets on civilian targets for a month. In the long run, whether the world wishes to acknowledge it or not, Hizbullah, Iran and Syria have been exposed as the bases of terror they are. And the reality is that no matter what the media spin may be, they have suffered a defeat. But we, in our time-honored fashion, prefer to dwell on our failings instead of on our achievements because we never allow ourselves the luxury of feeling that we've won. Even after the stunning victories of the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, the naysayers and much of the media warned us that it was all for naught. Perhaps it is the thousands of years of exile and persecution that have conditioned us never to say that we have won. The most we allow ourselves is to say that we have survived. Well, perhaps survival is, after all, victory, at least in Jewish terms. ONE OF the threats raised against Israel is that of Arab demographics. The Arabs believe that in a few short years they will be the majority in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. However, an article in a recent issue of Azure conclusively showed that this claim is also a sham, a doctored photograph of reality. Under-reporting of the death rate in the Palestinian territories, exaggerating the birth rate, double-counting of the Arab population in Israel and also counting them as Palestinians, ignoring the sizable emigration from the Palestinian territories over the last decades, have all contributed to a false reading of the demographic reality. Israel itself abets this falsehood by adopting Arab census figures wholesale. There are undoubtedly political motivations behind such deception - but, again, it is part of our mental makeup in convincing ourselves that we can't really win, and of the Arab mental makeup that they can't really lose. Only a change in these perceptions and attitudes will eventually lead to a more stable situation in the Middle East. Until that happens we should sit tight and ignore the pie-in-the-sky proposals that our wacky leaders continually propose. Patience is the weapon for victory. The writer is a noted Jerusalem-based scholar, historian, speaker and educator.