We moaned and we groaned about him and his lack of experience but let's face it – having a left-wing 'land for anything' man as Defense Minister can be rather helpful. It does rather restrict the extent of the criticism heaved at Israel by other countries and by Israelis themselves.
Even when the Israeli Air Force has killed Palestinian civilians along with terrorists, like today, it's more difficult to waive the peace and human rights finger at Peretz and Olmert than it was once when Ariel Sharon (not a word about him anymore) and Shaul Mofaz (still kept tragically busy in the far less honorable, no less important Transportation Ministry).
Our Prime Minister is traveling Europe openly advocating Israeli withdrawal (bilaterally or unilaterally) from 90% of the West Bank. He is not promoting continued control over the lives of the Palestinians. He even approved weapons to Mahmoud Abbas as recently as last night. On Sunday, Amir Peretz rejected the IDF recommendation to "let the IDF win", wanting to give Hamas more time to come to its senses. I am sure they appreciated the extra time to mull things over. Iran's President is enjoying similar time to think. If only thinking was all these people do when we go into extra time.
All this, an Israeli leadership for separation and less confrontation and yet still a leadership, it appears… finally, that does want to fulfill its role of protecting the Jewish people from those who wish to hurt us. It's not an easy role and whether we are in fact the most moral army in the world as Olmert claims and whether we try our best to avoid civilian casualties – regardless - Israel, the IDF and Israelis will stand judged on the world stage by the harshest critics, the same armchair and other experts who judge American, British and other anti-terror action on a different diplomatic playing field.
Guilty before being heard? In the sad death of the family on the Gaza beach – yes! And now, when the media damage is done, will those who accused us stand up to withdraw those claims or at least pause and put away their knives until the case is closed? Muhammed al-Dura and Jenin revealed a world that requires no evidence in the court of world opinion. Will the world believe us when we say that only one IAF missie was fired, that the Kaytusha rockets themselves caused the civilian injuries after medics and civilians surrounded the van? Don't bet on retractions or apologies.
There are going to be more civilian deaths among Palestinians. It's unavoidable when terror cells transport, store and produce Qassam rockets and Kaytusha missiles in residential neighborhoods. We still have an obligation to do our utmost to strike only at those who wish to kill, injure and frighten our people. Those who do in fact threaten us should understand that even the Israeli left's patience has come to an end and that they, the terrorists will be responsible for the harm caused to innocent people, both in Israel and in their own hometowns.