Thinking Back - Comment - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
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    • Mark Lincoln
    • 06.10.10 | 04:27 (IST)

    I had a friend who first knew of the Yom Kippur War when a Syrian MiG screeched overhead. Might a few important points be made? The Six Day War was a mistake, neither Egypt or Israel wanted it. The attack upon the Liberty was a mistake - a fiasco - as the now released NSA intercept prove. The situation in 1973 involved a United States over-committed in Vietnam. A US wary of Israel's intentions in the Liberty attack. A president, Richard Nixon, who was an undisguised anti-Semite. Israel had cut it's supplies of advanced weapons in the mistaken Six Day War. France would limit and after 1973 sell no more weapons and withheld the Mirage 5s and Sarr boats Israel had paid for. The LAST thing those running Israel wanted to do was offend the USA which was it's last hope for supply. The LAST thing they wanted to do was jump the gun and attack without provocation as they had in 1967. In 1973 the view was that of Israelis who had survived incredible odds in 1948, had prevailed despite the incompetence and indecision of the European powers in 1956, and had enjoyed the benefits of preemption in 1967. They did not wish to error against the interests of the United States in 1973 as they had in 1956 and 1967, The situation in 1973 came as a continuation of the Attrition War with Egypt. It was a direct product of the Six Day War. It would end when the USA and USSR ended it because it had come to the brink of nuclear annihilation. I was young then, and now I am old. That was the LAST time Israel faced an existential threat. I was delighted with the end of that horrific war. I am sorry that due to the censorship situation, Israelis are the last to know the truth about how it happened. How the nation which attacked Egypt in 1956 as the stalking horse of England and France; how the nation which preempted the non-threat it could not understand in 1967, did not want the USA and world to think it had started a third war of aggression. Thinking back, Israel's government did the right thing in the strategic sense, even if it did have incredibly horrible results in the tactical sense. Unlike 1967 Egypt and Syria WERE ready to attack and unlike 1967, the would not have been caught napping by a preemptive strike. Had Israel struck first in 1973 it would have been almost impossible for Richard Nixon to have supported it as was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Nixon might well have dithered. And had the US not airlifted the supplies necessary, Israel might have perished. Do not judge those who were running things in Israel during the fall of 1973 without placing their actions in the context of their times. It is easy to view the Six Day War as a cheap victory born in aggression, and the Yom Kippur War as a disaster born of the unwillingness to attack at the first desire. It is wrong to take either out of context. Israel to this day is haunted and tortured by the results of the Six Day War and dominated by right-wing governments created by it's reaction to the Yom Kippur War.

    from the article: Newly released documents: Division and disarray on eve of Yom Kippur War
    First published 00:57 06.10.10 | Last updated 00:57 06.10.10
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