Israeli Defense Minister: ‘Woe to Us If We Do Not Internalize the Lessons of the Yom Kippur War’
In a ceremony held at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery on Monday to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, Israeli’s defense minister said that the nature of security threats facing Israel have changed since then, and that the country now has to contend with terrorist organizations in place of conventional armies, nrg reported.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon opened his remarks by saying that Israel is still left with many questions about that war — which took the country by surprise — and contemplating all the “what-ifs.”
“How would our lives and yours look today had Israel’s eyes and consciousness been open to grasping the massiveness of the war that was about to descend upon it?” Ya’alon asked rhetorically.
“Forty two years have passed since then, and the lessons of the Yom Kippur War require us to conduct soul-searching now as well. Also at this time, the Middle East is changing, and part of the conventional armies that fought against the IDF during the Yom Kippur War have been exchanged with a mixed multitude of entities and terrorist organizations seeking to harm us in different ways,” he said.
He continued, “All of us must learn the lessons of 1973, which remain with us as a heavy and ominous shadow. The challenges have indeed changed, but they still remain significant. We have to continue to act with determination and strength, responsibly and judiciously, against those who wish us ill even in these current days, across our borders, within them, and even those far away from them.”
Ya’alon added that this caution and awareness also necessitated “striving for true peace with the peoples of the region, but not to chase mirages.”
Israel must instead be, “aware of all the frequent changes,” and “overturn every stone in order to be improved, more up-to-date and better-prepared,” in contrast to the situation in which Israel found itself on the eve of the Yom Kippur War.
In a slightly different vein, he said, “Woe to us if we do not internalize the lessons of the Yom Kippur War and allow the seedlings of vanity, condescension, insensitivity and arrogance to grow, and do not agree to accept criticism, even if it leads to disciplinary action. It is our duty to maintain open and fruitful dialogue in the face of those for whom we are responsible, not to take anything for granted, and to understand that wisdom is not only found in one place.”
He then stressed that Israel must “work against suppression of views and against tyranny of thought, and not be afraid to express opinions, even if they go against the opinion of the existing leadership. We must not be afraid to ask questions, argue, and say what is in our heart.”
The Yom Kippur War began with a surprise attack on the part of a coalition of Arab states, led by Egypt and Syria against Israel, for the purpose of dislodging Israel from territories it captured during the Six Day War, namely Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. It took place from October 6 to October 25, 1973.
Up until the eve of the War, launched on Yom Kippur — when most Israelis were praying in synagogue, and not using electricity or answering phones — Israeli intelligence had ignored warnings signs of an imminent attack, leaving the country and its soldiers totally vulnerable. Though Israel emerged victorious, the war left a scar on Israeli society.
This year’s official commemoration ceremony was attended by President Reuven Rivlin, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott and Defense Ministry Secretary General Dan Harel.