It is enough to see what is happening in Lebanon. The moment Hezbollah took control over the south of the country and armed itself with thousands of Katyushas and other rockets, a stable balance of deterrence was created on both sides of the border. The withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from Lebanon in 2000 was made possible not only because of the daring of then prime minister Ehud Barak, but also thanks to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who conducts a policy of "one law and one weapon" on the other side.
Nasrallah hates Israel and Zionism no less than do the Hamas leaders, Shalit's kidnappers and the Qassam squads. But as opposed to them - he has authority and responsibility, and therefore his behavior is rational and reasonably predictable. Under the present conditions, that's the best possible situation. Hezbollah is doing a better job of maintaining quiet in the Galilee than did the pro-Israeli South Lebanese Army.
In today's Ha'aretz an obviously blushing Benn wrote an article entitled "How I erred". There he tries to explain how he goofed:
Two weeks ago, I wrote here that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hates Israel but behaves responsibly, and that since he took control of south Lebanon, a stable balance of deterrence has been created on both sides of the border. "His behavior is rational and reasonably predictable. Under the present conditions, that's the best there is. Hezbollah is preserving quiet in the Galilee better than did the pro-Israeli South Lebanese Army," I wrote. But Nasrallah hastened to prove that his behavior is not predictable, when he gave instructions to attack an Israel Defense Forces patrol near Moshav Zarit and kill and kidnap its soldiers.
The mistake in my assessment stemmed, as always, from the idee fixe that what was is what will be. I believed that if Israel and Hezbollah had learned to live according to the "rules of the game" that had developed along their common border, they would be interested in maintaining the balance of power rather than violating it. The IDF, the intelligence services and the government, who have at at their disposal much better sources of information than mine, thought the same. Fact: They lowered the alert level in the north a few days before the attack in Zarit; that means that they expected quiet. But although I was in good company, the responsibility for the mistake is entirely mine.
I beg to disagree with Mr. Benn. His mistake is not "from the idee fixe that what was is what will be" but rather from his misunderstanding of Islam, which in turn caused him to misunderstand our enemy. It is this misunderstanding that causes him to call Barak's foolish withdrawal from Lebanon "daring". The withdrawal from Lebanon was a dishonorable act that gave a backwind to the global jihad. The withdrawal from Lebanon was a stab in the back to our allies there, who will probably never forgive us or want to be our allies again. In spite of this mistake, Aluf Benn is an interesting commentator, even if I often disagree with him, and am apparently on the opposite side of Israel's political map. Better luck next time, Aluf.