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Israel: a hero’s wisdom



Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan knew all about taquiyya. We could use the strategic insight of a man like him.

To get some relief from the current and unheroic Prime Minster of Israel, let us recall the wisdom of his brother Jonathan (z”l), the fallen hero of the Entebbe raid (Operation Thunderbolt, 4 July 1976). The following is abstracted from “Yoni’s” published letters.

Before elections in Israel

September 3, 1965, to his family: “As you know, there is a great hubbub in Israel now with the elections approaching…. None of the parties satisfies me, and none of them represents what I think is right.”

Six-day War

A memorial to the last time Israel was ever on any real offensive.

Memorial to the Six-day War, on the Jerusalem road. Photo: CNAV

February 16, 1969, to his parents: “Tzahal [the Israel Defense Forces] is the only thing that stands between ourselves and the slaughter of our people as in days gone by.”

April 9, 1969, to his parents: “The truth is it’s rather tiring to live so long in a state of war – a war whose end can be foreseen only in the distant future. You need much perseverance and patience to overcome all the crises we’re facing now and those we’ll face in the future.”

March 30, 1970, to his wife: “I believe that the Jewish people’s survival depends largely upon Israel – and more than that: Israel’s survival depends on us, on our capabilities and staying power. It’s enough to read just once all the war slogans of our tens of millions of neighbors, to note their hatred and desire to annihilate us …”

The Yom Kippur War

November 17, 1973, to his parents, à propos of the Yom Kippur War:

I see with sorrow and great anger how a part of the people still clings to hopes of reaching a peaceful settlement with the Arabs. Common sense tells them, too, that the Arabs haven’t abandoned their basic aim of destroying the State, but the self-delusion and self-deception that have always plagued the Jews are at work again. It’s our great misfortune. They want to believe, so they believe. They want not to see, so they shut their eyes. They want not to learn from thousands of years of history, so they distort it….

This [war], no doubt, has been the hardest we’ve known … more costly in dead and wounded, more marked with failures and successes, than any of the wars and battles I have known. But it’s precisely because of those initial blunders (which I won’t go into now – I mean the failures in military judgment, in interpreting intelligence data, in military doctrine, in political assessment, and, of course, in the whole nation’s complacency) that the victory achieved was so great…. (italics added)

What a pity they‘re now starting “The Wars of the Jews” (among ourselves) even before the fighting at the fronts is over … “The Wars of the Jews” are always the ugliest and hardest of all. These are wars of apologetics and futile bickering, suppression or distortion of facts, and procrastination in making decisions. There is no doubt that what’s called for is new leadership, a more correct perception of the realities, a sound recognition of the enemy’s aims, and clear, definitive strategic political planning….If we don’t have a well-defined, realistic objective, we won’t have to fight the Arabs for our survival. The Arabs won’t need to fight. The Jews, as usual, will destroy themselves….

In the main, the people, as a body, lacks perseverance while it abounds in political and military blindness.

The Damascus Road. An apt illustration of how "Let's pretend" is a dangerous game to play in diplomacy in the region.

From Israel toward Damascus, in the Golan Heights. Photo: CNAV

December 2, 1973, to Bibi:

What I’m positive of is that there will be a next round, and others after that. But I would rather opt for living here in continual battle than becoming part of the wandering Jewish people. Any compromise will simply hasten the end. As I don’t intend to tell my grandchildren about the Jewish State in the twentieth century as a mere brief and transient episode in thousands of years of wandering, I intend to hold on here with all my might.

December 22, 1973, to Bibi:

In spite of Geneva [the Geneva Four-Power talks on the Middle East], I’m worried chiefly by the Jews, not by the Arabs, and not even by the superpowers, though they’re quite a nasty thorn in our side. The dissensions within is what will bring us to grief – unless we can overcome it. It’s true some things have changed, but not much. We said this. However, even before the war, so there’s nothing new. We’ve not sobered up.

Attrition against Israel

An eerie and accidental recreation of a heroic event when Israel stood tall.

A C-130 Hercules rests on the tarmac in front of the old airport terminal at Entebbe International Airport, 10 August 1994. The aircraft is of the same type the IAF used in Operation Thunderbolt, more than 18 years earlier. Photo: SRA Andy Dunaway.

November 1, 1974, to Bibi: “I feel pretty profoundly apprehensive about the future of the Jewish State. Shedding illusions, I see the process aimed at annihilating us is gathering momentum and the noose is tightening. It won’t be a rapid process, though our strength will diminish from one war to the next.”

February 3, 1975, to Bibi: “No need for me to write in detail about what’s going on in the country. It’s common knowledge. We’re being sold out. See you in the next war. Maybe there won’t be a war so soon: why should the Arabs fight if they’re going to get it all for nothing?”

May 11, 1975, to Bibi: “What’s needed is wisdom to fight the process of isolation that is closing in on us; but there are no wise men in Israel.”

In his farewell speech to his battalion: “I believe that all the battalion’s efforts must be subordinated to the main aim – victory in war.”

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