The Questions Return to Haunt Us

Due to the Agranat Report, the impression that the main failure of the 1973 war was an intelligence failure took hold; documents released last week prove that this is not so.

Haaretz Editorial
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Haaretz Editorial

Many of the leading political and military figures have died, but the controversies have not. They scald almost as much as on those key two days, October 6, 1973, when the war broke out, and April 2, 1974, when the Agranat Commission released its report.

The commission recommended to Golda Meir's cabinet, which had set the commission up, to spare itself. The recommendation was accepted. Golda did not resign and Moshe Dayan remained defense minister, while others were dismissed: Chief of Staff David Elazar, GOC Southern Command Shmuel "Gorodish" Gonen, Military Intelligence chief Eli Zeira, his research chief Aryeh Shalev, and other officers below them.

But the politicians did not last long in their posts. A week and a half after the report was released, Golda caved to pressure and resigned for good. Dayan was forced to go with her.

The documentation of the war and the events preceding it, as published over the last four decades, repaired the warped balance to a certain extent. The military and intelligence officials contributed to the complacency, arrogance and negligence. Some of them would have done better to resign of their own accord. But their part in building up the Israel Defense Forces and turning the war around with resolve and sacrifice cannot be denied.

Due to the Agranat Report, the impression that the main failure of the 1973 war was an intelligence failure took hold. The studies and the transcripts of the testimonies to the Agranat Commission released last week prove that this is not so. The biggest failure was that of the political leaders.

Golda, Dayan and their partners did not want peace with Egypt, at the price later paid by Menachem Begin. Nor did they share with the intelligence analysts the secrets that would have changed the assessment and heightened the alert level. Golda and Dayan, not Elazar and Zeira, deserve to be remembered as the ones responsible for the toll the war took.

The Agranat Commission, which totally ignored the war's political background, disbanded when it finished its work. The questions it did not ask at the time have returned to haunt us - with clear lessons for current governments and wars.

Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir in the Golan Heights, during the Yom Kippur War.Credit: Reuters



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