Everywhere I look, I see “stickers” saying “Together we will win (Israeli flag emoji)!” Having worked in PR, I do understand the need for jingoistic propaganda in wartime. But I have to say, this one sticks in my craw.
Of course we will “win.” Despite the terrible loss we have just suffered, we do have aircraft, tanks and hundreds of thousands of well-armed soldiers and reservists. Even the pilots who did not show up for training still remember which side is up in the cockpit. Judging by the non-stop window-rattling, they are doing their jobs. But what will be our prize if we win, and what will our victory cost?
“We’ll wipe Hamas off the face of the earth,” we are told. “Sinwar and Def are dead men walking.” We are not told how we intend to wipe them from under the face of the earth, where they are presumably currently sitting, Like Nasrallah, in the north, they can become mole-men, impossible to find and kill while still wielding power.
“We need the element of surprise!” says one ex-general sitting in the television studio, banging the table for emphasis. Yet so far, the war’s beginning has been textbook: Start by dropping bombs on the high-rises and targets we think might be Hamas-held, and then send in the ground troops. Of course if you tell me on TV, it won’t be a surprise any more, but let’s just say, I’ll be very surprised.
“The time for reckoning is after the war,” say the commentators. Yes, the time for looking at the hubris and series of bad decisions and policies that led us to this point will come. But the time for looking at how terrorists invaded and went on an hours-long killing spree, with no interruption; for asking why the army took so long to respond and how the death toll could have been lower, if only – that time is now. Because if we are rolling into Gaza with troops, risking the lives of men and women, and if we are asking the public to be a part of a sustained war, then I want the generals who are directing the action to be seriously reassessing the enemy, the screw-ups, and their own strategies NOW, not after the dust settles and we step up to claim our prize.
Together we will win! And yet, I opened up my news sites this morning to see that there is not a single mention of an emergency unity government. Apparently they are too cynical to believe their own slogans. That unity government is crucial because, aside from Yoav Gallant, the rest seem to be AWOL. History will judge whether he has been sufficient in his role, but he cannot do it alone. And we need a few competent people running things who can deal with issues like starting to treat the trauma victims, bolstering the home front with more than telling us we’ll need to suck it up, and taking a visible role in getting the hostages freed (for starters).
I don’t want slogans. I want a plan. Don’t tell me we mean to flatten Gaza, or that we’ll retake it. Don’t tell me you intend to kill specific people. Don’t tell me you’ll change the face of Gaza, while ignoring the fact that the face of Israel has already been irrevocably changed. Don’t make any promises you can’t keep.
Don’t tell me how many buildings you’ve managed to take down, that you killed a handful of Hamas members and the brother of Mohammed Def. Don’t tell me these will lead us to victory. The only real victory we can have is one that leads not to a ceasefire or truce, or to occupying Gaza once again, but to a peace treaty.
Don’t give me slogans. I don’t need to know the details of your plan, but I need to know you have one. Tell me what you plan to do the day after, how you will then face the Israeli people and justify the price we are paying. Because the time to start thinking about that is now.