The IDF began distributing yesterday a revised version of research its Historical Branch conducted in 1992 on the Yom Kippur War. The report has been on hold since then, due to the opposition of various retired senior officers involved in the war.
A year ago, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon ordered that the research be updated and published following the publication of new books about the war.
The research, authored by Lt. Colonel (res.) Elhanan Oren, was sent to the media yesterday evening, and the IDF is planning to make it available to the public in the near future.
"The History of the Yom Kippur War" is based on research originally classified as secret, but later downgraded to confidential in 1998 so more people could have access to it.
In the introduction to the volume made available yesterday, which is not classified, the head of the Historical Branch, Colonel Shaul Shai, says it is "meant to provide the reader with a broad overview, a bird's eye view" of the war. However, browsing through the book and comparing it to classified research on the war provides less of a bird's eye view and more of a view of a worm at Sycamore Ranch.
Criticism of the commander of Division 143 in October 1973, Ariel Sharon, which characterized the 1992 edition, was softened in the 2004 edition, a song of praise for the premier.
The army, which is responsible for historical research - in itself a grave situation within any democracy - has become devoted to the man that rules it.
Extensive chapters from the two formerly secret volumes edited by Oren, whose conclusion was that Israel failed to prevent the war and emerged from it with military gains that "were only partial to the war aims, as they were defined," were published a couple of years ago, marking the war's 30th anniversary.
Only then, following the media's insistence, did Ya'alon authorize updating the research leading to yesterday's release. The result is one of the greatest-ever IDF historical research fiascoes.
In the book by Oren, who is sick and incapable to respond, Shai and his aides inserted sentences that express understanding of, and heap praise on, Sharon. Shai, and his aide, Colonel (res.) Shimon Golan, called the changes, "updating and editing." In a different era and in a different language, this kind of activity was viewed as "translating and improving" the original text.
It is possible Shai and Ya'alon did not expect readers to compare the versions. If that is the case, they were wrong.
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