We are arriving at the point (or likely we passed it already) when we have to ask real questions. Is this war winnable? It’s not just people on the left, it’s even David Brooks in this morning’s New York Times:
Many Israeli leaders seem to have taken the momentum of the past weeks and concluded that they can force through a permanent solution to their quandary. That’s the perfect way to dilute the psychological effect, and to lose control of the endgame.
In one scenario, Israel finishes a quick ground assault with a lightning effort to clean out the tunnels in the Philadelphia Corridor. Then it withdraws from Gaza, at a time of its own choosing, to let the psychological reverberations begin. In another scenario, Israel’s assault drags on. The suffering of the innocents in Gaza magnifies. The meaning changes.
The architects of the first scenario understand the rules of the new game. The architects of the second miss the core concept: psychology matters most.
Remember that Hamas, like Hezbollah, does not share our quaint notions of keeping military units away from civilians, and that they will proclaim victory even when–or particularly when–the kill ratio is 100:1. There is no way to beat people who will use a culture’s own love of life against itself. There is no way to win against people who have nothing left to lose. All they can do is win.
And because of that, we also have to look squarely, honestly, painfully at pictures like this from this morning’s Times. What can one say to this father? What can one say? “Vayidom Aharon,” “And Aaron was silent” (Leviticus 10:3). There is nothing we can say. Nothing. Be silent and look at this picture.
As the accompanying article tells it, this was a family that was ordered to flee but had nowhere safe to go. Hamas is holed up everywhere, and Israel goes after them wherever they are.
I have lived in Israel. I am a rabbi. Most of all, as it relates to this picture, I am a father who sees little boys just like my own. I can only imagine the anguish this father is experiencing. Is any cause worth this price?
Enough. Enough with the rockets. Enough with the killing. How many children must die before we, people of good will and good sense, Jews and Arabs, stop this madness? To my Arab cousins: Israel is here, it is not going away, and it wants peace. You’ve seen what its army is capable of. Stop. To my Israeli brothers and sisters: Too many of our children are growing up in death and terror. Too many of us have been the father in this picture.
This needs to end. How?