> “Hero in War and Peace”
> Sometimes a single sentence is enough to reveal
> a person’s
> mental world and intellectual profundity. Such a
> sentence was uttered
> by Shaul Mofaz, the Minister of Defense, some days
> ago during a visit
> to the Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip.
> “With our enemies, it seems, no shortcuts are
> possible. Egypt
> made peace with Israel only after it was defeated in
> the Yom Kippur
> War. That will happen with the Palestinians, too.”
> This means that there is no political solution.
> There is only war, and
> in this war we must “defeat” the Palestinians. A
> simple, simplistic, not
> to say primitive, view.
> But the revealing sentence is: “Egypt made
> peace with Israel only
> after it was defeated in the Yom Kippur War”.
> Revealing, because it utterly contradicts the
> almost unanimous
> view of all the experts in Israel and around the
> world – historians,
> Arabists and military commentators. These believe
> that the exact
> opposite is true: Anwar Sadat was able to lead Egypt
> towards peace
> only because he was admired as the commander who had
> Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Only after the
> Egyptian people had won
> back their national pride were they able to consider
> peace with the
> enemy (with us).
> When the war broke out, the Egyptians did
> something that amazed
> the world and shook Israel: they crossed the Suez
> Canal and
> overcame the celebrated “Bar-Lev line”. Everybody
> considered this a
> brilliant military feat. The stupidity of Israeli
> army intelligence and the
> arrogant complacency of Prime Minister Golda Meir
> allowed the
> Egyptians to achieve total surprise, destroy a large
> number of tanks
> and pin down the Israeli Air force. The Minister of
> Defense, Moshe
> Dayan, was in shock and talked about the
> “destruction of the third
> Jewish state”. (In traditional Jewish
> historiography, the first two Jewish
> states are symbolized by the first and second temple
> in Jerusalem.)
> In the course of the war, the tide turned and,
> in the end, the Israeli
> army crossed the Canal into Egypt. At the end of the
> war, Israeli
> troops were established on the western shore, but
> large Egyptian
> forces remained to their rear, on the eastern side.
> This week a long-
> delayed official study by the Israeli army was
> leaked. It declares
> unequivocally that Israel had “not won that war”.
> But the professional military analysis is not
> so important in this
> context. What is important is how the events appear
> to the Egyptian
> consciousness and affect their actions since then.
> I succeeded in reaching Cairo on the morrow of
> Sadat’s sensational
> visit to Jerusalem, and found myself in a city drunk
> with joy, in some
> kind of delirious popular carnival. Over the main
> streets stretched
> hundreds of slogans celebrating the act of the
> president. Every
> commercial corporation felt duty-bound to hang such
> a slogan with a
> peace message.
> The one slogan that outnumbered all others was
> “Anwar Sadat: Hero
> of War and Peace”.
> The Egyptian people would not have supported
> peace, if they had
> considered it a surrender to the diktat of an
> arrogant enemy. Only the
> crossing of the Canal four years earlier, which
> Egyptians consider one
> of the greatest victories in all the 8000 years of
> their history, enabled
> them to accept the agreement as a compromise between
> without loss of honor. Like many other nations, the
> Egyptians – and all
> other Arabs – consider national dignity the most
> important treasure.
> Perhaps Mofaz should go to Cairo and visit the
> round building that
> houses the museum of the Ramadan War (as Arabs call
> the Yom
> Kippur War). There he will see an exciting,
> emotion-laden display of
> the crossing of the Canal. Every day the place is
> thronged with people,
> especially school-children.
> If one wants to draw a parallel between the
> Egyptians and the
> Palestinians, as Mofaz tries to do, the conclusion
> would be: only after
> the Palestinians win back their national
> self-respect, will they be able
> to make peace with Israel. The first intifada, which
> consider a victorious struggle against the immense
> might of the Israeli
> army, allowed them to accept the Oslo agreement.
> Only the second
> intifada, which has already proved that the Israeli
> army cannot subdue
> the Palestinian uprising, enabled them to accept the
> Road Map, which
> is supposed to bring about peace between the Israeli
> and the coming
> Palestinian state.
> On a related topic: On the eve of the thirtieth
> anniversary of the
> Yom Kippur War, Israeli newspapers are full of
> revelations about it.
> Among them is the disclosure that I saved the life
> of Moshe Dayan.
> That surprised me, as it would have surprised Dayan,
> if he were still
> living. But it appears to be true.
> The facts are revealed by Amir Porat, the
> former communication
> officer and personal confidant of Shmuel Gonen
> (universally known as
> “Gorodish”), who was in charge of Southern Command
> during the war.
> Later, when the public was looking for a scapegoat
> for the terrible initial
> defeat, the main blame was put on Gorodish. He was
> dismissed from
> his command and nobody was prepared to listen to his
> side of the
> story. All the media boycotted him.
> This man, who practically overnight had fallen
> from the height of
> glory (as one of the heroes of the 1967 Six Day War)
> to the depths of
> ignominy, was in despair. He blamed Dayan for the
> injustice done to
> him. In the end he made an appointment with him,
> planning to shoot
> him and then himself.
> At the very last moment, one day before the
> fateful meeting,
> Haolam Hazeh correspondent Rino Tzror arranged a
> meeting between
> us. At the time I was editor-in-chief this
> newsmagazine, the only
> medium in the country that was truly independent of
> the establishment.
> We had a reputation for supporting the underdog and
> challenging the
> powers that be. I talked with him at length. During
> the whole
> conversation he toyed with his pistol.
> Gorodish was very far from my political views,
> he was a right-wing
> person, an out-and-out militarist, but I became
> convinced that the
> official inquiry into the war had indeed done him a
> shocking injustice.
> Therefore I promised to help him getting his side of
> the story across.
> He saw that the whole world was not closed to him.
> Having someone
> listening to his side of the story and promising to
> publish it relieved his
> despair and made him give up the idea of killing
> Dayan and committing
> suicide. I published a large article under the
> headline “The Israeli
> This affair has its ironic side. In the whole
> of Israel, no one was
> more opposed to Dayan than I. More than anyone else
> (except Ben-
> Gurion and his sidekick, Shimon Peres) Dayan laid
> down in the 1950s
> the anti-Arab tracks on which Israel is moving to
> this very day. In the
> pages of Haolam Hazeh I attacked him relentlessly,
> writing hundreds of
> articles against him, exposing his illegal traffic
> in stolen archeological
> finds and his private peccadilloes that endangered
> the security of the
> state. And in the end it appears that I saved his
> Back to the main point: The Yom Kippur War did
> not lead to the
> “destruction of the third state”, as Dayan had
> prophesied, but to peace
> with Egypt, after its national honor had been
> restored. If Sharon and
> the army command succeed in disrupting the hudna
> (truce) and bring
> about the renewal of the intifada, they will not
> break the Palestinians,
> who will refuse to submit. And after large-scale
> bloodshed, Yasser
> Arafat will make a speech in the Knesset, as did
> Sadat, the “Hero of
> War and Peace”.