IN OTHER WORDS: No victors

With dust still rising from the ruins of Lebanon and a UN ceasefire in its fragile first day, Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, declared his side had won a “strategic and historic victory” in its war with Israel.

Israel’s PM, Ehud Olmert, also claimed victory, telling the Israeli parliament that the fighting had “changed the strategic balance” in the region. Bush was more blunt. “Hezbollah started the crisis and Hezbollah has suffered a defeat in this crisis,” he said.

Officials in Israel say that some 10,000 buildings there were destroyed or damaged in 34 days of fighting. Scores of Israelis died, including at least 39 civilians. An estimated 700 Lebanese civilians were killed. The UN reports at least one million people were displaced by the fighting.

David Grossman, an Israeli novelist and peace activist once said about the Israel-Palestinian conflict: “This is the empty place in which every person, Israeli or Palestinian, knows with piercing certainty all that he does not want or does not dare to know.

There, within himself, he understands ... that his life is being dissipated, squandered in a pointless struggle, and that his identity and self-respect and the one life he has to live are being endlessly expropriated from him in a conflict that could have been resolved long ago.”