Michael Boyden

A Lost War

It may go on for another month or two. Maybe fighting with continue for much longer. No one knows. Much of the infrastructure built up by Hamas over the years will have been destroyed, thousands of its fighters will have been killed or captured, and many of its leaders will have been “neutralized” or will have escaped. However, Hamas will not have disappeared.

Hopefully many of the hostages will be released and brought home, but although this war has already been going on for two months, there has been little if any success on that front apart from the internationally mediated prisoner exchange.

The army claims to have attacked 22,000 targets and killed 34 senior Hamas figures, but many of our own soldiers are also being killed and seriously injured every day.

According to official figures, over 400 soldiers have been killed since the onset of the war. A further 1,593 soldiers have been wounded, 255 of them seriously. And it is unfortunately far from over.

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.

Given that fact, it is hardly surprising that we are sad. We may say “Happy Chanukah”, but that is not the mood in Israel today.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari of the Home Command can continue issuing his daily briefings, detailing IDF’s latest achievements. (Our soldiers are heroic in their battle against immoral terrorists, who are prepared to use schools and hospitals as covers for their operations, and steal humanitarian aid intended for Gaza’s civilian population.)

However, at the end of the war, we shall be no nearer to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than we were before the bloodthirsty events of October 7th. In that sense we shall have lost the war and helped raise a further generation of Palestinians who will hate us for what we did in Gaza.

Not that it is all our fault. The Palestinians bear more than their fair share of responsibility for the current situation. They lack a leadership of the calibre of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat, who was prepared bravely to stretch out a hand in peace recognizing that he could not destroy Israel. He paid for it with his life.

Our country is unfortunately led – if one can use that word – by a coalition government that includes right-wing, religious zealots, who believe in an Israel extending “from the River to the Sea” in precisely the same way that most Palestinians believe that the same territory belongs to them.

We have a prime minister, who lacks vision and is primarily interested in saving himself and staying in power. He thought he could make peace deals with the Arab Gulf States while misunderstanding what was going on in his own back yard.

No wonder that so many of us are sad.

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.