While it is true that the US generally restrained Israel from total victories in Lebanon-2006, the restraint came in handy for Israel. Unlike her previous wars, Israel could not win. The entrenched Hezbollah is nothing like the PLO, which the Lebanese hated. Israel’s only hope for the total victory was to attack Iran and Syria, preferably with nuclear weapons. Destroying the support base is the only way to fight a guerilla army. Israel cannot root out Hezbollah or disarm it; better cut Iranian and Syrian missile shipments. Hardly any Israeli expert believed we could clean Hezbollah out, let alone quickly. The Israeli government killed defenseless Lebanese civilians. Olmert is neither brave nor a visionary and did not retaliate against Iran and Syria. Israel could not win, and US pressure for cease-fire was a welcome face-saving measure.

Israelis tolerate losses, just as Americans tolerated them in WWII but not in Vietnam. When war is necessary and conducted reasonably, people accept losses. We oppose useless wars, useless deaths. Israeli society demonstrated overwhelming consensus for the Lebanese war; even the Left supported the war. The Israeli government, not Israelis, needed the cease-fire to cover its lack of strategy. Beside, Israel needed not suffer heavy casualties in urban combat. The IDF had reasonably good intelligence and could have destroyed Hezbollah’s positions from the air with non-conventional weapons. Israelis generally supported the air attacks regardless of Lebanese civilian casualties. The Lebanese elected Hezbollah with their eyes wide open.

So far, Israel has drained Hezbollah some, but Hezbollah won the PR battle for Muslim minds and will recover very soon. Potential donors and volunteers are numerous. In the best-case scenario, hostilities will resume, and even the Israeli government will be forced to do something meaningful, perhaps clear a buffer zone in South Lebanon. Any solution short of dismantling the Lebanese state and sharing the land among Israel, Arab Christians, and Syria would not be sustainable. In the worst case, the Israeli government will give in to Hezbollah’s major demands: a Palestinian state and evacuation of Judea and Samaria. The missiles pouring from Gaza and Lebanon showed many Israelis what they tried to forget: that no concessions bring peace with Muslims. Popular acceptance of to the evacuation of Judea and Samaria has dwindled, though the Left still favors withdrawal. Their attitude is unrelated to international politics or military considerations. The Left fight their real political enemy, religious Jews, even at the cost of collaborating with the Arabs. In the worst tradition of Jewish self-hatred, Israel’s Left wants to gentilize the Jewish state. Abandoning Judea and meekly submitting to Muslim goodwill is the Left’s way of humiliating religious and nationalist Jews. The Israeli Left, uniquely, includes both US-style democratizers and Soviet-style socialists; any ideology is good for them so long as it undermines the Jewish character of Israeli society. The Israeli government controls the media and has a powerful grip on people’s minds. The government also controls huge groups of voters through extensive welfare programs. Neither reason nor popular opinion matters in Israeli politics. Olmert & Co. will likely continue to press for withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

Israel’s objective is not peace. Jews can live peacefully in New York. Israel was founded because the Jews want to live on their land, and Judea, Samaria, and Gaza are Jewish lands. Hardly any country ever traded religiously or ideologically critical land for peace; to the contrary, scores of countries have fought over even minor land disputes. Israel, a foreign body in the Middle East, will never be at peace; no country is permanently at peace. Preparing for imminent war, it is better to be bigger than smaller. Beside, no concession can bring Israel peace: the giveaway of Gaza, Judea, and Samaria will only prompt the Muslims to press for the right of return for descendants of the 1948 refugees, compensation, partitioning of Jerusalem, autonomy for Arab communities in Israel, and normalization of Israeli Arabs, particularly giving them ministerial portfolios. Full normalization means letting an Israeli Arab become Israeli Minister of Defense. The current minister is a Peace Now activist.