Michael Boyden

A Failed War

Israel is not used to losing wars. We win them, and that is why we have survived and flourished in a hostile neighborhood, but this time it is different.

Back in December, just two months after the horrific events of October 7,
I wrote that “It is hard to believe that either of the claimed objectives of the war will be achieved in its entirety. Hamas will not cease to exist and unfortunately not all of the hostages will return.” It is depressing to observe how true that is.

In an outspoken interview a month later, Likkud MK, Danny Danon, remarked: “In practice, we are far from achieving the purposes of the war, which are the return of the hostages and dismantling Hamas’s ability to govern. We see that we are not achieving the results we wanted.”

Hamas has not disappeared. Hundreds of terrorists returned to Al-Shifa Hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip last month in spite of the IDF’s efforts to root them out. As I write, air raid sirens are wailing in Ashkelon and S’derot, while the communities who lived in the Gaza Envelope have yet to return to their homes.

Even sadder is the fact that 134 hostages are still being held by Hamas in appalling conditions, and we don’t even know how many of them are still alive.

If anyone believed that, after 181 days at war and hundreds of military funerals, we would be close to success and victory, many will now be feeling less certain.

No less depressing is the fact that even our friends in the international community have lost their sympathy for us. It shouldn’t be that way after what happened, but people’s memories are short.

The colossal amount of destruction in the northern Gaza Strip and claims by the World Health Organization that “hundreds of thousands face starvation as Israel continues its siege” now make the headlines.
October 7 has been forgotten.

The unfortunate and unforgiveable deaths of seven World Central Kitchen workers, who were mistakenly killed in an IDF drone missile strike, only serve to complicate and complete the picture.

Even President Biden, who made a 31-hour visit to Israel just two weeks after Hamas attacked, has lost patience and has now called our prime minister demanding policy changes. Some will claim that Biden is just worried about his election prospects, but that is unfair. He has visited our little slither of land in the Middle East no less than 10 times – something that few American Jews have ever done! He is a true friend of Israel.

The war against Hamas was already lost on October 7. The only question now is how can we salvage the remains.

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.
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