Ariel Beery
Dedicated to solving problems facing humanity with sustainable and scalable solutions

‘Together we will win!’ is a hard goal when we don’t agree on what victory is

Even trusting an Israeli win against Hamas, how can we go home to the North knowing that we are perpetually at risk from Hezbollah there?
View of a large fire caused from rockets fired from Lebanon, in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona, June 3, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

On listening and winning and working together

As Israel’s Galilee burned, a friend involved in relief efforts asked me, “Did you ever think it would come to this?” While there is no comparing the death and destruction of the war in Gaza to the evacuation and evisceration and daily violence afflicted by Hezbollah on the Northern communities, both are deep tragedies, and neither should have happened. “I see how the war in Gaza ends,” he continued, “but even if we finally close a deal with Hamas, how can we go back to raising our kids in the North knowing that our homes can be engulfed at any moment?”

Which is why I found myself returning to the motto the government had chosen for this war, “together we will win” (יחד ננצח). There is something deeply troubling about the phrase, threatening even to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The first two words stand well: “together” we are and must be if we are to emerge from this crisis, in some fashion. “Will” demands we have intention and put our resources towards concerted action. The trouble begins with the last word: Win.

What does a win mean to you? I asked my friend. What are we winning? Who is our enemy and what does victory look like? I can promise you my definition of victory is entirely different than the definition of victory held by members of Israel’s current government. I’m pretty sure my definition of victory is different than yours.

How can we win together if we do not agree on what victory looks like?

Finding a shared definition of victory requires a conversation about the future. That we step away from the current moment, our current battles and disagreements. That we leave them be, accept that on some things we do not and never will agree. Instead we choose to look ahead, to imagine a world we can live in together.

While a conversation about the present often requires an ethic of tolerance to bridge past conflict, a conversation that is focused on the future requires an ethic of pluralism to enable future prosperity for all parties. An opportunity to listen not to what a person is not saying out of fear of the hidden threat, as often happens in contentious times, but rather to find those points of agreement to enable each of us to be our best selves in the future we can and should and must build together.

Listening forward, as opposed to listening backwards, is a creative act. It seeks not to assign blame or responsibility to how we got to where we are, but to decide on where we want to go given that we need to go there together. It is an act that demands active participation. It is listening through challenging, it is listening as collaboration. It is the listening to define as opposed to listening to blur. It is the listening of chevruta. It is the type of listening we need more of today.

One of the great tragedies of the current moment is that we – as in Israelis, Jews – are doing a whole lot of listening backwards, and very little listening forwards. Dozens of organizations exist to host conversations about the past to create a political platform for the present. Dozens more bring together religious and secular Israelis seeking to heal the rift caused by orthodox domination of the State. Others connect right and left wing Israelis in the hope of healing the rift caused by the judicial overhaul, connect Israelis and Palestinian peaceniks seeking to heal the rift caused when Israel declared independence and the Arab powers declared war. The conversations focus on what was and not what could and should be.

We will not win if our conversation is dominated by the past. We cannot win unless we know what future victory is meant to bring. We will not win unless the future is one we all agree is better than the present. There is no justification to ask our sons and daughters to fight today if we cannot envision a day after.

As my friend and I got up from our conversation, I asked him, so what would get you to go back to raising your kids in the North? “I don’t know,” he honestly shared. Neither of us could remember a single statement by the current government that promised anything for the North other than war. Neither of us could think of a vision advancing true peace with our northern neighbors, a world in which the Levant becomes a center for global prosperity, where religious extremists no longer set the agenda and determine our future. When Israel becomes a beacon of hope, a campus where pioneers congregate to envision a better future. “I wonder what the Lebanese who were forced out of their homes by Hezbollah imagine,” I asked. We agreed we would love to listen forward with them.

About the Author
Ariel Beery is a strategist and institution builder dedicated to building a better future for Israel, the Jewish People, and humanity. His geopolitical writings - with deeper dives into the topics addressed in singular columns - can be found on his substack, A Lighthouse.
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