Is the IDF going to lose again?
Has the IDF, the vaunted Israeli army that captured the Sinai Peninsula in 72 hours in 1956, and captured it again - along with the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip - in the 1967 Six Day War, lost its grip and its nerve when fighting terrorists?
When fighting Hamas and Hezbollah, is the Jewish state still paralyzed by its fear of negative world opinion? And is it still afraid of causing and taking casualties?
Prof. Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins University has noted that the Islamic "extremist is never alone; the terrorist on the fringe of political life always works with the winks and nods of the society that gives him cover." So Hamas terrorists must be killed in their very beds. And if those beds happen to be next to the beds of Gaza civilians, that is the price the civilians must pay for aiding the terrorists within their midst.
There used to be a time when Arab terror was met with immediate and effective Israeli retaliation -- in Hebrew the phrase is Teror v'Tagmul -- a time when Israel gave notice to both its friends and its foes that since the Holocaust the era of unarmed Jews being killed with immunity and impunity was over. But that was when Israelis were still willing to look death in the eye and die for their country if necessary.
In their 1948 War of Independence, in order to establish their state, at least one percent of Israel's population of 650,000 gave up their lives. Now that the population is ten times larger, Israel's political and military leaders apparently believe that today's Israelis will not accept a far lower percentage of fatalities in order to preserve their state.
In the Middle East, as elsewhere, the only way one defeats foes is with disproportionate force -- not with truces, cease fires, humanitarian aid, or vows that the safety of enemy civilians is the primary concern. In the Middle East, as elsewhere, one defeats enemies not by winning their hearts and minds, but by crushing them. And in the Middle East, as elsewhere, while one can begin a war with airpower, one can end it only with troops on the ground.
When ground forces are employed, there is necessarily a link between victory and casualties. By any calculation, it is always proper to sacrifice one in order to save 10, 10 to save hundreds, hundreds to save thousands, and thousands to save millions.
Clearly, the Arabs will never accept the Israelis. But they can be made to fear and respect them. The only way the Israelis can do that is to remember that war is more a test of wills than of weapons." The Israelis proved that in 1948, Hezbollah proved it in Lebanon in 2006, and Hamas is trying to prove it today in Gaza and southern Israel.
Commenting on Operation Cast Lead, the IDF's current operation in Gaza, a senior Israeli military official has said that the goal is to make "Hamas lose their will or lose their weapons." But Debka, the Israeli internet publication, says that Hamas is "counting on inflicting casualties that will mount up week after week and wear Israeli forces down until they are driven into an ignominious retreat."
We'll find out soon enough if Gaza 2009 will become Lebanon 2006.