What happened to 'never again'?

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As the smoke clears from the battleground of the Israel Hezb'allah War and as we observe the continued supineness of Israel in light of its first strategic defeat, the vocabulary of the situation gradually comes to the fore.

And now I can summarize my own shock at the failure of Israel to take the Hezb'allah challenge seriously — particularly before the war, whose probability of occurrence was near 100%, and for which we all assumed that Israel had planned its response.  When the IDF drove up to the border and the wheels fell off the offensive, I can now articulate the question that was in my mind, but I could not quite 'reach' — what happened to 'never again?' 

Until this war, we all thought that the retribution for raining fire down on the homeland of the Jews would have been Biblical — in the German phrase nein stein auf einander: not one stone would have been left standing on another in the territory of the attacker.  And this is not meant in some Rambo sense — that the IDF would have ripped off its collective shirt, flexed its well—toned muscles and run bare—chested at the guns of the enemy.  That works better on film than in real life.  That is not what we are talking about.

Rather a national effort, developed by military 'artists' at the limits of their creative abilities, honed, tested, war—gamed, mistakes made and absorbed, hardware developed and proved, intelligence assembled — sweaty armpits, late nights, bad food, overweight analysts, all sacrificing themselves and their health to arm the nation for this existential battle.  And then when the battle was joined, the mission executed by tigers, in the (former) concept of the IDF, exhausting the mission.

And the result — victory.  Victory for the nation and the people of Israel.  Casualties?  Yes.  Too high?  Yes.  But lifted up into the narrative of the Jewish people through the sublime, terrible motto, 'never again.'  When Moloch once again came for the Jewish people, it would be death or victory, what Winston Churchill called the British people to when they stared down the Nazi evil — 'If this island story of ours is to end, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground."

Instead, we have.....the announcement by a French general yesterday that it will take a year to assemble the 15,000 strong 'robust force' that is going to .....do whatever it is going to do in south Lebanon.  We have Israel waiting for the French army for its succor, a strategy that did not work even for France.  A UN resolution — 1701 — that is a joke even before the ink has dried.  This to deal with a force — Hezb'allah — which has as its only purpose the annihilation of Israel.  Even Hamas has some claim to represent the Palestinians, but not Hezb'allah.  It used to be said that the Jews contributed to history the idea that when someone says he is going to kill you and then takes steps to do so, you are well advised to take him seriously.

For the last 58 years, when Israel hoisted the war flag, metaphorically emblazoned on it was 'never again.'  That raised the conflict above politics, above the peccadilloes or inadequacies of individual leaders or politicians, that strengthened the hearts and hardened the sinews of the IDF to smash though to what Douglas MacArthur called 'righteous victory.'  Is that now in the past?

Greg Richards   8 17 06

As the smoke clears from the battleground of the Israel Hezb'allah War and as we observe the continued supineness of Israel in light of its first strategic defeat, the vocabulary of the situation gradually comes to the fore.

And now I can summarize my own shock at the failure of Israel to take the Hezb'allah challenge seriously — particularly before the war, whose probability of occurrence was near 100%, and for which we all assumed that Israel had planned its response.  When the IDF drove up to the border and the wheels fell off the offensive, I can now articulate the question that was in my mind, but I could not quite 'reach' — what happened to 'never again?' 

Until this war, we all thought that the retribution for raining fire down on the homeland of the Jews would have been Biblical — in the German phrase nein stein auf einander: not one stone would have been left standing on another in the territory of the attacker.  And this is not meant in some Rambo sense — that the IDF would have ripped off its collective shirt, flexed its well—toned muscles and run bare—chested at the guns of the enemy.  That works better on film than in real life.  That is not what we are talking about.

Rather a national effort, developed by military 'artists' at the limits of their creative abilities, honed, tested, war—gamed, mistakes made and absorbed, hardware developed and proved, intelligence assembled — sweaty armpits, late nights, bad food, overweight analysts, all sacrificing themselves and their health to arm the nation for this existential battle.  And then when the battle was joined, the mission executed by tigers, in the (former) concept of the IDF, exhausting the mission.

And the result — victory.  Victory for the nation and the people of Israel.  Casualties?  Yes.  Too high?  Yes.  But lifted up into the narrative of the Jewish people through the sublime, terrible motto, 'never again.'  When Moloch once again came for the Jewish people, it would be death or victory, what Winston Churchill called the British people to when they stared down the Nazi evil — 'If this island story of ours is to end, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground."

Instead, we have.....the announcement by a French general yesterday that it will take a year to assemble the 15,000 strong 'robust force' that is going to .....do whatever it is going to do in south Lebanon.  We have Israel waiting for the French army for its succor, a strategy that did not work even for France.  A UN resolution — 1701 — that is a joke even before the ink has dried.  This to deal with a force — Hezb'allah — which has as its only purpose the annihilation of Israel.  Even Hamas has some claim to represent the Palestinians, but not Hezb'allah.  It used to be said that the Jews contributed to history the idea that when someone says he is going to kill you and then takes steps to do so, you are well advised to take him seriously.

For the last 58 years, when Israel hoisted the war flag, metaphorically emblazoned on it was 'never again.'  That raised the conflict above politics, above the peccadilloes or inadequacies of individual leaders or politicians, that strengthened the hearts and hardened the sinews of the IDF to smash though to what Douglas MacArthur called 'righteous victory.'  Is that now in the past?

Greg Richards   8 17 06