In the aftermath of the onslaught on Lebanon you can open up the Israeli press, particularly the Hebrew editions, and find fierce assaults on the country’s elites from left, right and center.
The overall panorama is one of chickens of all ages coming home to roost. Small pustules highlight larger rot. Chief of staff Dan Halutz, a narcissistic bully, secretly took time off the morning he ordered the terror bombing of south Beirut to tell Bank Leumi to sell his stock portfolio before the market plunged, which it soon did by nearly 10 percent.
The capacity of the US armed forces to fight intelligently and effectively has been almost destroyed by a system of graft-ridden procurement that favors expensive weapons systems validated by bogus tests. Israel’s supposed military requirements have been a particularly ripe sector of that racket, and the consequences are plain to see. Israel’s receipt of Patriot missiles was no doubt hugely profitable for the parties involved in the transaction, but in defensive function entirely useless. The Patriot missile batteries stationed near Haifa and Safed, much trumpeted by the Israel Defense Forces, played no significant role in the recent conflict.
Israel’s generals paraded on TV in resplendent uniforms even as people in northern Israel too poor to flee found either no shelters at all (particularly Israeli Arabs) or, in the words of Reuven Pedatzur in Ha’aretz, “sat for more than one month in stinking shelters, some of them without food or minimal conditions.”
Disfigured by its “special relationship” with the US arms industry, of which the US Congress is an integral component, the IDF has been morally corrupted by years of risk-free brutalization of unarmed Palestinians, many of them children. It’s one thing to level an apartment building with a missile from a plane or crush a protester with a bulldozer or lob shells at a Palestinian family having a picnic on a beach or kidnap middle-aged and democratically elected Palestinian politicians. It’s another to confront a foe, with modest but effectively deployed weaponry, prepared to fight back.
Years of racism have taken their toll too. Think of Arabs as subhuman “terrorists” and you end up making a lot of misjudgments, tactical and strategic.
Amid the first days of the “cease-fire” the Israeli press has been carrying reports not only about Halutz’s secret stock sales but also that prime minister Ehud Olmert may have accepted a $500,000 bribe as part of a conspiracy with a building contractor, that justice minister Haim Ramon has resigned to battle charges of indecent assault on a female employee at a Defense Ministry party and that Israel’s president, Moshe Katsav, may face charges of rape of a female employee.
On that first pre-cease-fire weekend, USA Today carried a story datelined Nabatiyeh by Rick Jervis headlined “Hezbollah workers rush to help victims rebuild”: “Hezbollah deployed its army of social workers and engineers throughout this southern Lebanese city…. ‘[They] were here even before the bombing stopped,’ said Mustafa Badreddine, 50, the mayor. ‘They have offices here. They have municipal resources. And the people trust them.'”