OpinionIsrael at War

The north’s race against time

The conflict in Israel's north and the displacement of tens of thousands cannot continue indefinitely. Something has to give.

Israeli soldiers watch the Syrian side of the border in the Golan Heights in northern Israel on Oct. 30, 2023. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
Israeli soldiers watch the Syrian side of the border in the Golan Heights in northern Israel on Oct. 30, 2023. Photo by Michael Giladi/Flash90.
Douglas Altabef
Douglas Altabef
Douglas Altabef is chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu and a director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at: dougaltabef@gmail.com.    

Franz Kafka would feel right at home in northern Israel.

Life here has a surreal, absurdist character with the indivisible mix of the mundane and the potentially catastrophic. A quiet day has only a handful of rocket or drone attacks and we have become used to incessant plane noise and to looking up and around after a boom or two.

Israelis are resilient, but resilience is often the product of being able to maintain one’s routine and “normalcy” within one’s familiar surroundings.

Anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 people have been stripped of their surroundings and have become refugees in their own country. Schools, businesses, farms, communities, you name it, have all been eviscerated, gutted and functionally abandoned.

Like so much in this war, the real difficulty is less the sacrifices that have been made than the lack of clarity as to how much longer those sacrifices will be required. What would have to happen to enable residents to return home, and is there any sense of when that might be?

I think most residents know that this is not about them in the sense that they are being ignored or singled out for korban (sacrifice) treatment. But still, in the real world, there is great pain, disruption and alienation. Adults can articulate their pain and confusion but most children cannot and we do not know the accrued damage that this dislocation is causing to our youth.

Yes, the evacuees are being compensated. They have not organized or been weaponized by others with a political agenda that would exploit evacuee distress in the name of that agenda.

But we must know that we are corroding the spirit of people who love their country and bleed blue and white.

There is a real world price for the current state of affairs. There is extensive collateral damage being inflicted.

Our leaders—political, military and security—need to recognize that they are not just playing with battlefield strategies and tactics. Or rather, the battlefield is much more complicated than the field of combat.

What the residents ask, what those of us who relate to their plight ask, is that our leaders’ planning and strategy take into account the costs of not acting, as well as the possible implications of our actions.

This cannot be seen as happening in a vacuum. We recognize that military plans are multifaceted and have a range of considerations and pressures—external and otherwise—that have an impact on their formulation and implementation.

We on the Zionist right have no interest in second guessing or questioning the judgment of our leaders. We only ask that their planning takes significant account of the real implications of any plans or the lack thereof for the displaced residents.

Time is not on their side.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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