The Yom Kippur War of 1973 proves just how vulnerable Israel is and highlights the importance of the Israel American Alliance.
After the astonishing and extraordinary victory of the Six Day War of 1967, Israel was ecstatic and riding high. It felt invincible. Aliyah to Israel was at an all time high. It was an incredible time to be in Israel.
Israel was caught napping in 1973. Rabbi Shlomo Goren writes in his book, “With Might and Strength” that as soon as Yom Kippur was over he went to the General Staff bunker ,”I was appalled and disappointed that no one knew what was happening on the battlefields.” The Syrians had reached deep into Israel territory and if they were not stopped would have taken over Safed and Tiberias. The Egyptians had crossed the Suez Canal and were quite a distance into the Sinai Desert. General Moshe Dayan who was Defense Minister at the time had a nervous breakdown and was ready to appear on television to tell the nation of Israel that we had lost the war. That would have been an utter disaster. It however gives an understanding of just how bad the situation had become. Dr. Herzl Rosenblum, the editor at the time of Yediot Ahronot apparently called Prime Minister Golda Meir and asked her to issue an order to prevent Israel Television from broadcasting Dayan’s capitulation. This is the same Moshe Dayan who had achieved greatness in the 1948, 1956, and 1967 Wars but also had surrendered the Temple Mount in 1967 to the Waqf. Despite intelligence showing massive buildup of Egyptian forces prior to the 1973 War, Dayan did nothing to counter. Egypt’s attacking Israel on the Holy Day of Yom Kippur was a dastardly deed. Russia’s involvement on the side of the Egyptians almost tipped the scales. It’s SAM Missile batteries downed many Israeli Aircraft. Israel lost 100 planes. Golda Meir’s canceling of Moshe Dayan’s address on the second day of the war saved Israel from disaster. Her allowing General Ariel Sharon to lead Israel’s armored division to cross the Suez and surround the Egyptian Third Army brought Israel victory. However, Israel lost 2,656 soldiers and 7000 were wounded. Most were killed by the surprise attack on the first few days of the War. It was probably Ariel Sharon’s finest moment. He and Avigdor Kahalani were the heroes of the war. Kahalani recaptured the Golan Heights from Syria.
Neither Sharon nor Kahalani would have been successful had it not been for the massive airlift of arms, tanks, and spare parts sent by President Richard Nixon. All in all over 8000 tons of military supplies were airlifted to Israel over a few days. Henry Kissinger was Secretary of State at the time. About 30 years ago I asked him if he was responsible for the airlift that saved Israel. He said,”I pushed and pushed.”. When I have spoken to Ed Cox, son-in law of Richard Nixon as well as Patricia Nixon, it was clear that President Nixon was very decisive and sent the airlift to Israel because he was passionate about doing so. Patricia Nixon (President Nixon’s daughter) told me that Golda Meir had thanked the Nixon family every time they met or spoke. President Nixon made the Israel American Alliance work and saved Israel in the process. I use his example any time I speak to a person running for office on either side of the aisle.
The Yom Kippur War showed why Israel must have secure borders. Geography counts. It brought about the rise of Menachem Begin and the Likud Party. It brought about a Peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. It solidified and strengthened the Israel American Alliance. It taught valuable lessons about intelligence gathering. Israel cannot afford to be surprised ever again. It came very close in 1973 to a catastrophe. Fifty years have passed but the memory of the Yom Kippur War is seared into the memory of all of those who lived through it. We cannot ever let our guard down. Am Yisrael Chai.