Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Lessons learned?

Today is October 6.

Forty-seven years ago on this date, I was in my dorm room at the Hebrew University (I was spending a year in Israel as an exchange student) napping after Musaf service on Yom Kippur/Shabbat, Oct 6, 1973 

At 2 p.m. I was awoken to the sounds of sirens.

Sirens? On Yom Kippur? Didn’t make any sense. Was this a local malfunction? Strange. I turned over 

The sirens continued and did not stop for many long minutes. At this point, many students were out of their rooms seeking an explanation. I went to our floor counselor, an Israeli who spent Yom Kippur in his room listening to music tapes. He turned on the radio and heard the news. Egyptian troops had crossed the Suez canal! I will never forget the look on his face. In his heavily accented but rather good English, he exclaimed,”sheet (sic) man, dis is war!”

I only saw him a few months later when he was demobilized.

He was one of the lucky ones, He came back—and in one piece.

We students were asked that evening to go to the hospital and give blood. We were sent to farms and factories to replace men sent to the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights. We still did not know that Israel was on the brink of destruction.

The first thought I had when I learned that this was indeed war was, these stupid Arabs, now our air force will make mincemeat of them once again...

I learned some weeks later that in these same moments, our planes were being shot out of the sky at an alarming pace by Soviet Sam 6 missiles, (the ones that the Egyptians placed a year earlier along the canal in contradiction to the cease-fire agreement. We allowed this infringement to occur).

The best tank corp in the world was being stopped in its tracks literally, by a forest of Strella anti-tank rockets held by thousands of illiterate peasants. We were not prepared. Worse, we made sure that we were not.

Only a handful of people in Israel knew how bad it really was at the time. Prime Minister Golda Meir, who was led to believe there was no call for concern before the attack by her defense chief Moshe Dayan, asked him, “what now”? He said, “ it looks like the destruction of the third temple.” He could not function.

How did this happen?

Israel was guilty of two sins before the war.

One was hubris—arrogance. Israel was overconfident (after three amazing victories over her Arab neighbors) and thus thought that she could take great risks and still come out on top.

The Torah specifically warns us not to believe that it is “our strength and power of our arms that did this...”

But we did believe that it was us.

The second sin was an overarching desire to find favor with the world community; to be accepted finally by the goyim. It seems that the establishment of a “normal “ country like all other countries did not solve the problem of anti-Semitism after all. It only retrained the focus.

Most importantly, we wanted our best friend and benefactor, the USA, to be pleased with us.

Henry Kissinger had plans for the Middle East and they just did not include a dominant Israel. That got in the way of a larger strategy.

Israel was to be knocked down a few pegs and fall into the line of American plans. The Soviet Union was to be weakened in the area by buying Arab goodwill with Jewish blood.

Israel felt they had to submit.

Our Torah continually reminds us and pleads with us, not to rely on any earthly powers but rather on Him for our salvation. We are unlike other nations. But we wanted to be just like them

That was sin number two.

The Yom Kippur war changed me as it decided for me where I was going to live. I understood then that America can get along very well without me but little bruised, confused Israel needed all the help it could get.

Discussion still abounds and books are written about this war; the war in which Israel almost ceased to exist.

How did Israel pull it off in the end?

Military experts, politicians, and historians have spilled oceans of ink and endless words on this subject but in the end, it was yet another miraculous extradition from the jaws of certain annihilation.

All Israelis, despite the failed politicians and the politician /generals, knew there was no choice. One war lost is the last one Israel fights and their families will face a fate far worse than the Yazidis in Iraq.

As Kissinger (the Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany) dragged his feet and let Israel bleed, Golda Meir made a call to President Nixon and gave him a short message.”Think quickly of the biblical story of Samson and the Philistine temple. We will not go down alone. I shall not preside over the destruction of Israel. The whole Mid East will be no more - with all of its precious oil.”

Nixon gave orders to empty NATO stocks in Europe and fly them to Israel immediately. I saw the C - 130s flying overhead then. 

What did Israel learn from this experience?

The rivers of ink still flow in answering this question. Both the Left and Right draw their opposite conclusions, just as those who engage in theological discussions.

What did God want?

Everyone has an opinion, so I have one too.

We should not have fallen to the two sins mentioned above and should never do so again.

Our excellent and brave pilots should not have been ordered to stand down and leave their cockpits to allow an enemy first strike. They should have taken off and kick Arab butt until the cows come home.

After that, we should all have thrown the biggest seuda hodaya ever  (a banquet of thanksgiving to God) on the Temple Mount (and taking back the keys that Dayan gave the enemy in 1967.)

The time is approaching, IH.

Chag sameach!


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