May/June 2000

Comment: 5 things about the withdrawal NOT for the memory hole

Aaron Lerner Date: 24 May 2000

With the spin experts feverishly at work, it is worthwhile to recall the following:

#1 Public support for unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon did not reflect a tired public ready to throw in the towel but instead a public willing to risk leaving Lebanon in order to save the Golan. Unilaterally leaving Lebanon was believed to remove the key gain from leaving the Golan.

#2 While "RFYL" (run for your lives) can certainly be part of a plan, it must be recognized that this was what the IDF-Barak Administration team was able to come up with because of a LACK of planning married with a terrible refusal on the part of Barak to make provisions for the worst case.

#3 The difference between "withdrawal" and "redeployment" is that in the latter case the ultimate test of the action is the quality of the new position. The bulk of a year was wasted before construction began for the new line and today Israel finds itself with serious holes in its defense.

#4 The heavy use of civilian shields in taking areas presents a model no doubt followed with great interest within the PA.

#5 While the failure of Israel to properly handle the incoming sea of SLA soldiers and their families at the border reflects a lack of planning, the failure of the system - from Prime Minister/Defense Minister Barak on down - to effectively address the challenge raises serious questions as to the present leadership's ability to improvise.

When a three kilometers line of cars (many of them with market values that could be traded for a new start in life) loaded with what remained of the escaping family's worldly possessions formed at the border the system froze. No one took the initiative (or responsibility) to do the obvious: close down the road from the border for a few minutes and move the line of cars a-la-"safe passages" in a convoy to an open field within Israel. Instead the families were forced to abandon their cars and most of their belongings to be seized by local villagers.

It is noteworthy that the most serious charge against Barak in the Tse'elim incident was NOT that he declined to hold the hands of wounded soldiers but that while he explained that he did not hold hands because he was busy supervising the evacuation, the evacuation of the wounded was a series of foul-ups (no one instructed the gate to allow the ambulances in and not all the ambulance units were called in).

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