On this week’s episode of “Top Story,” JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin discussed the remarkable parallels between the 1973 Yom Kippur War and last week’s Hamas terrorist atrocities.
Both surprise attacks worked because of misguided conceptions about the enemy that were held by Israel’s leaders. He also cautioned that it’s also possible to draw the wrong conclusions from history. Unlike the aftermath of the 1973 conflict, when negotiations led to agreements that strengthened Israel, Tobin warned that if the war against Hamas is followed by a push to revive the failed two-state solution policies of the past, no good will come of it.
He’s then joined by Uri Kaufman, author of the new book Eighteen Days in October: The Yom Kippur War and How It Created the Modern Middle East. Kaufman discussed the similarities between the two conflicts with respect to Israeli “conceptions” about its enemies and how Hamas employed some of the same tactics as Egypt did in 1973 that helped create a sense of complacency on the part of the Israel Defense Forces. But he also said that Hamas had its own conception rooted in its belief in Israeli weakness. Kaufman predicted that Hamas would be disabused of that conclusion in the coming days and get a “civics lesson in how democracies really work” when they are pushed too far.
He further stated that former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s record as a wartime leader is far better than most Israelis understood at the time, due to her willingness to stand up to the United States when it counted the most. He believes that if America tries to pressure Israel not to destroy Hamas now, Jerusalem should defy it.
The two also debated the legacy of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was a hero of the Yom Kippur War but whose withdrawal from Gaza in the summer of 2005 helped lead to the current debacle. While Kaufman said that the retreat initially saved lives and worked for 18 years, Tobin replied that “Sharon’s strategy worked until it didn’t. And obviously, what’s going to be remembered is what happened last week.”
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