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The Next Yom Kippur War Is on the Way

yossi klein
Yossi Klein
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Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir addressing the Israeli public in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, November 1973.
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir addressing the Israeli public in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, November 1973.Credit: AFP
yossi klein
Yossi Klein

For the sin we have committed before you by haughtiness and arrogance, for the sin that led to the deaths of more than 2,500 in the Yom Kippur War and will lead to the deaths of others in the wars to come. Forgive us for the sin of arrogance. If a human characteristic can be associated with an entire public, arrogance is us. So are its side-effects: hardheartedness, hubris and mistaken concepts.

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In the excellent series “Enemies” (Kan Broadcasting), the long-time officers did not relate to our arrogance with surprise or criticism. They accepted it as a fact, as a kind of burden that we can’t get rid of and have to learn to live with. That’s the way we are, they say, get used to it. The answer to the question of who pays the price for the arrogance is known: The ones who got it wrong don’t pay, those who mistakenly sent others to their death are the ones who pay.

A thin line separates pride from arrogance. Pride is desirable and arrogance is wrong. Pride helps the fighting spirit, arrogance impairs it. We fell for the Egyptian concept, and now we’re falling for the Palestinian one. We have substituted the “they wouldn’t dare” about the Egyptians to “there’s no solution” about the Palestinians. The advantage of “there’s no solution” is that one can live happily with it. We can wrap ourselves in it, lie down and do nothing. The blood of women and children will be shed, and we’ll look on calmly and say there’s nothing to be done. There was something to be done and we didn’t do it. After 1973 we didn’t stop talking about “stock-taking” and “learning lessons.” What stock-taking and what lessons? The same hardheartedness and the same arrogance. The same feeling that everything will somehow work out by itself, that we don’t have to solve the problem but just “manage it.” But if we sit on our butts and “manage,” another Yom Kippur will come.

"We don’t do anything and believe that an army with missiles and planes will always win against a few thousand “armed men.” We repress the fact that we aren’t able to win. How can we win with occupation? We can’t. We ignore the inability. We also ignore the knowledge that the next Yom Kippur is on the way. It will cost us blood, it could take generations, but believe me, the day will come.

After 75 years of wars and victims we haven’t stopped a moment to ask: Maybe we are wrong? Maybe there’s another way? We didn’t ask. The arrogant don’t ask, they’re sure of the rightness of their path. They enjoy wallowing in the righteous excrement of their existence. It stinks, but it’s familiar and pleasant. And if they move – it’s to the right, to the abyss.

A book has just come out called “In the Mind of the Beholder,” an extensive volume of research by Daniel Bar-Tal, Amiram Raviv and Rinat Abramovich. Reading it, one can realize how little has changed between us and the Arabs: the same sickening self-justification, the same childish mistakes that go from generation to generation like an ancient sacred tradition. The reasons can be summarized thus: We are stronger, more moral and more right. They are primitive and we are high-tech. Period.

And so we deserve it. We deserve that “they don’t like us.” We deserve it because “six million,” because “God promised,” because we’re the “few against the many,” and because they neglected the land and we built it. Those same claims that haven’t changed for decades.

And why should they change? What did we do for them to change? After all, this is what we heard at home, we learned in school, we were instructed in the army and we saw on television. We are so brainwashed that it is beneath our dignity to learn their language and to know their culture. Those who try to understand are traitors. Rabin, who tried to understand, paid with his life.

We won’t change our stand even if reality proves that we should. In 1973 the lookouts saw the Egyptians training to cross the Suez Canal dozens of times. Dozens of times they warned, dozens of times we answered that it was “just an exercise.” That was our arrogant concept (“they wouldn’t dare”). Even when the Egyptians were already climbing the fences we didn’t move. A thousand articles can be written about the powder keg we’re sitting on. It won’t help. The concept is the concept. We forgot everything and we learned nothing.

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