Learning the Lessons of Israel’s Long, Unnamed War in Lebanon

The upcoming twentieth anniversary of the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon has sparked much discussion about the nameless war that lasted from 1985 to 2000, during which the Jewish state held on to a strip of territory in the southern part of Lebanon, together with its local allies, and fought a protracted, low-grade conflict there. Having served as a battalion commander on the ground in this conflict, and later having overseen units involved in it, Gershon Hacohen admits that, in hindsight, he did not pay sufficient attention to the strategic dilemma Israel faced:

The IDF found itself pulled in three different directions by three different goals. The first and most important: to secure our ‎communities in [northern Israel from PLO and Hizballah rockets and terrorist infiltrations]. The second: to ensure that [Jerusalem’s ally], the South Lebanese Army (SLA), remained intact ‎and to secure the civil population in the security zone while minimizing harm to IDF and SLA troops. ‎The third: attacking Hizballah’s forces and reducing its battle capabilities. Hizballah identified the ‎tension playing out between those three missions and maximized the potential that lay with keeping it ‎running high.

Starting in the early 1990s, when Hezbollah entrenched itself in a way that allowed it control over ‎southern Lebanon, a major change took place. While the IDF was still defending border communities . . . from incursions by terrorists, Hizballah was focusing its activities toward a goal, ‎openly declared, of liberating its homeland [from Israeli occupation]. Secretly, . . . under the direction of Iran, Hizballah wanted to end the Israeli presence in south ‎Lebanon and thereby strike a blow to Israel’s image of military superiority by underscoring its ‎inefficacy in either winning or defending all its vulnerabilities.

For years, the IDF has been criticized for supposedly neglecting the desire to achieve victory. The ‎expression “Let the IDF win” is a simplistic slogan that prevents an in-depth understanding of the [problem at hand]. A renewed look at the war in the security zone provides a vital lesson ‎in understanding the change that Hizballah instituted in how wars against Israel are fought, . . . at a ‎time when it is urgent to form the concept of Israeli security necessary for victory.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Hizballah, Israeli grand strategy, Israeli Security, Lebanon, PLO, South Lebanese Army

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter