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June 14, 1985 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-06-14

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Friday, June 14, '1985



War That Went Wrong

Continued from Page 3

ourselves into this situation."
Hardly were the words out of
his mouth when another general
walked into the command post.
He had just come back from trying
to arrange the off-loading of water
at the Christian-controlled port of
Junieh for IDF forces deployed
around Beirut. He was visibly
stunned. "They refused, those
bloody bastards," he announced in
furious tones. "Here we are fight-
- ing their war and they refuse to
allow us to off-load water. What in
God's name are we doing here?"
And despite the fact that the
generals did not know what they
were doing there, fighting a war
that the IDF was not built for, the
war continued to mushroom.
Units were sent creeping along
the hilltops towards the Beirut-
Damascus highway, generals did
not know at night where they
would be ordered to take their
troops in the morning.
Orders were given to solidify
lines in the central sector and con-
solidate lines in the east. Brigades
were sent into battle in reponse to
Syrian attacks that never mate-
rialized in pursuit of military
goals that had become a mystery
to the men who were pursuing
"You have to save our lives, you
have to prevent them from send-
ing us into west Beirut," the
commander of a paratroop battal-
ion stationed near Ba'abda im-
plored three of us reporters. "Do
you know, they have prepared a
landing strip near Damour just so
that Hercules aircraft can land to
fly the casualties out if we go in.
Helicopters won't be enough. You
have to stop him (Ariel Sharon)
from destroying us."
What dictated the headlines
that had slowly changed from jin-
goistic hymns of praise for the
fighting men to damning con-
demnation of where this war was
going, was not "the poison of
left-wing, defeatist journalists,"
but the accurate representation of
the feelings of the fighting men
The impending catastrophe un-
folded a chapter at a time, each
more bizzare, more frightening
than the last. The assassination of
Bashir Gemayel, Sabra and
Shatilla, the mounting hOstility of
all the Lebanese factions, the ten-
sion in the U.S. Marines; the
humiliating peace treaties; the
headquarters reduced to rubble
and mangled bodies by a new type
of madness; the Amal victories
and the Christian defeats . . . One
by one they appeared and disap-
peared, leaving Israel pro-
gressively weaker and weaker.
Now that it is possible to look at
the whole sorry drama of the
Lebanon War in perspective, it
has become clear that criticism of
it was not always politically moti-
vated but often a reaction to the
progressively worsening situa-
tion, and the voices of people who
--, formerly supported it are being
addedio the chorus that has long
been demanding an inquiry into
it. They, too, want to understand
how six divisions could possible
have been dragged to Beirut de-
spite the unequivocal opposition
of both the head of military in-
telligence and the Mossad secu-

rity service and the emphatic re-
jection around the cabinet table of
anything more than a lightning,
albeit major, operation against
the PLO's infrastructure in the
The prospect of yet another
commission of inquiry that will
necessarily generate even more
political tension than already
exists is not one to be relished. But
Israel cannot afford to turn a blind
eye to what happened, lest it be
allowed to happen again.
The urgent need for an inquiry
is indisputable. Its purpose would
not be to engineer the end of the
political careers of Ariel Sharon,
Yitzhak Shamir, Rafael Eitan or
any of the war's key decision
makers. It need not even be a pub-
lic inquiry. But it has to take
place, and its findings have to be
studied and applied. Israel cannot
afford another war of self-defeat.
There were no celebrations as
the last Israeli units withdrew
from Lebanon. There were no
parades or lowering of flags.
This was a war with no clear
beginning and no clear end. Only
clear results. Now that we are es-
sentially back to square one, it is
time for clear conclusions.


200 Protest
Fate Of MIAs

New York (JTA) — More than
200 people demonstrated last
week at Dag Hammarskjold
Plaza, across from the United Na-
tions, calling on the Syrian gov-
ernment to release four Israeli
soldiers believed to have been in
Syrian custody for the past three
The demonstrators carried
picture-posters of Zachary
Baumel, Zvi Feldman, Yehuda
Katz, and Samir Assad. Three of
the soldiers have been missing
since June 11, 1982 when the Is-
rael Defense Force (IDF) invaded
Lebanon. Assad has been missing
since April 1983.
New York city officials, among
them Carl Bellamy, the city coun-
cil president and David Dinkins,
city clerk, Christian and Jewish
religious leaders took part in the
demonstration, urging Syrian
authorities to follow the Geneva
Convention and allow the Red
Cross to visit the missing Israeli
Syria so far has not acknowl- •
edged holding the Israelis but the
three Israeli soldiers who were
captured in 1982 were reportedly
paraded the day of their arrest in
the streets of Damascus. Naif
Hawatme, the Palestine terrorist
leader, admitted in 1984 that his
group, The Democratic Front for
the Liberation of Palestine, was
holding Assad. Later, however,
the group claimed that Assad had
been killed.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan
(D-NY) and Sen. Alfonse D'Amato
(R-NY), in statements read at the
demonstration on their behalf,
called on the Syrian government
to follow international law and re-
lease the Israeli prisoners. The
parents of one of the prisoners,
Miriam and Jona Baumel, came
from Israel to take part in the



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