Friday, July 28, 2006

The Myth of the Israeli Soldier. The planners of this war on aggression on Lebanon clearly don't know much about Arab politics. They did not know how it will be evaluated by Arab public opinion. They assumed that Israel's savage will to destroy and kill on a mass scale--which was never in doubt, not in Lebanon for sure--is sufficient to subdue the Arab public, and to scare off potential resistors. But the battle is being measured by the actual combat between Hizbullah fighters and Israeli soldiers. And in that regard, something--without exaggerating here--has been shattered, no matter what will happen next. For decades Israeli propaganda and the propaganda of Arab regimes fed the myth of the mighty and invincible Israeli soldier. Israel wanted to discourage Arab armies from fighting them, and the Arab regimes wanted to instill fear and despair in their populations because they did not want to be dragged into a confrontation with Israel. This will be remembered by Arabs--rightly or wrongly--as a situation where Israeli soldiers ran away from Arab fighters, notwithstanding the fundamentally asymmetry between the two sides in everything. Arabs don't remember a time when Israeli soldiers were scared of Arab soldiers in contemporary times. The political impact of that will be significant. But don't get me wrong. Israel's long record of bravery against defenseless women and children remains intact.