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It's time to change the direction of the ship: two former chiefs of staff in a special column | Israel Hayom


Highlights: The 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War is being marked with a series of events. Israel is facing the threat of a combined multi-front war with Iran and other countries. Israel must take the initiative to strengthen its borders and prevent a future war, writes Yossi Ben-Ghiat. He calls for a constitutional amendment that will regulate education and the state's role in the war effort, rather than a law that would make it easier to withdraw from the conflict.

50 years ago, pilots went on sorties knowing they probably wouldn't return • Fathers of young children boarded tanks and did not retreat in front of the armored armies • And then and now, the leadership and the entire nation are being tested • We must leave the political trench and return to the full wagon - Israeli society • Jubilee of the Yom Kippur War: Two former chiefs of staff in a special column

The Yom Kippur War was a breaking point in Israeli society, and on the other hand, conclusive proof of its resilience. These days, the State of Israel faces the greatest challenges we have known since then. Facing the danger of a combined multi-front war between countries and terrorist organizations that pose an unprecedented threat to the home front, and against Iran, which is not only becoming a nuclear threshold state in terms of enrichment, but also a regional hegemon with broad control over the entire world and in its region in particular – all under Russian and Chinese sponsorship. 50 years later, Israeli leadership and society are once again being tested.

An innovative simulator seeks to teach the younger generation about the Yom Kippur War

On the strategic level, as in the old days, there is blindness on the part of the political echelon. The late Prime Minister Golda Meir is quoted in a film currently being screened in the cinema about her as saying: "It's easy to know when you're losing, it's hard to know when you're winning." These days we are the leading force in the region militarily and technologically. We have an advanced economy, regional alliances in the making (which have unfortunately weakened in recent months) and, of course, a moral and strategic alliance with the world's greatest power – the United States.

Iranian President Raisi. Danger lurks, Photo: AP

Despite these advantages, just like on the eve of the war in '73, there is no political initiative that will shape our future and preserve our victory. While the emerging normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia creates a great opportunity, Israel serves as an "observer" and does not exploit it to build a significant regional architecture that includes strengthening the moderate elements on its borders and creating an infrastructure that will prevent a future war.

The point of view is what the extremists in the government will say, not what is in the best interest of the country. In 73, Sadat saw the war as "continuing the policy in other ways." He initiated and succeeded in achieving his goals in the end, albeit at a heavy price. And today, in the face of the aspiration of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah to erase the State of Israel de facto, or de jure, in the face of the danger of becoming a binational state, we must take the initiative on the basis of the emerging normalization with Saudi Arabia and leverage it across the sector in order to maintain a strong, Jewish and democratic Israel.

A tank on the Lebanese border. A multi-zarre war may break out, Photo: Eyal Margolin - Genie

We must act, not with withdrawals and certainly not with security concessions, but with infrastructure that will ensure our interests first and foremost – "secure peace," as the Likud's election slogan was once formulated. If such a move happens, we will support it from the outside, even if there are those in the coalition who try to torpedo it.

A huge gap in capabilities

On the military and operational levels, there is a huge gap between the IDF's capabilities today and Yom Kippur, but the war will be completely different. While 50 years ago the challenge was at the forefront, today we must prepare for the "First Home Front War" – tens of thousands of rockets, drones from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, and Radwan forces that will maneuver in order to conquer the Galilee communities. None of this is an imaginary scenario.

Herein lies the true Yom Kippur omission of our time. During that war, pilots flew sorties knowing full well that they would probably never return. Fathers of small children left the synagogues and lawns of the settlements, boarded individual tanks and did not retreat in the face of armored armies. The question is, what will happen today?

Prime Minister and Ministers at a Cabinet meeting, Photo: Amit Shabi

50 years later, and that spirit still exists among many of the young among us. This is not a miracle, but the product of a strong Israeli ethos, and one that the current government has decided to give up. In order to prepare for the reality facing us, a sharp change is required in the internal arena – in agreement on the rules of the game, in state education and in the service of the people and the state.

Instead of a legal reform that tears us apart, we need a constitutional amendment that will regulate the rules of the game, first and foremost a Basic Law: "Legislation." Instead of dismantling the education streams into sub-streams, state education should be returned to the top of the list of priorities. Instead of mass evasion, mass volunteering and an Israeli service law that prepares the security forces for decades to come, preserves the people's army and the value of service.

Instead of the disintegration of statehood, governance and trust in state institutions, they need to be built deeply. And finally, instead of alienating world Jewry, bringing it closer and preserving Israel as the home of all streams.

Knowingly sabotaging readiness

The defense establishment learned and learned lessons from the Yom Kippur War. All systems are ready and warn in advance, but this time, 50 years later, the political echelon is knowingly allowing us to sabotage our preparedness for a multi-front campaign that could break out at any moment. Only irresponsible leadership shuts its ears and allows it to dismantle society, the IDF and the home front when the security situation is so serious. Unfortunately, if we don't change the direction of the ship, we won't find the heroes of 1973 in the future when we need them.

Unlike others, we do not believe that we need a new Israeli contract, but that we must keep the contract of the Yom Kippur War and the founding fathers. As Ben-Gurion stated, the fate of the State of Israel depends on "its strength and justice."

Even today, 50 years later, the memory is still fresh. The Yom Kippur War in the Sinai sector, photo: IDF Archive at the Ministry of Defense

We must maintain power, and we must return to the way. There is no need to invent the wheel, but to step out of the political trenches and return all citizens of Israel to the full bandwagon – Israeli society. We must steer this wagon out of the mud to the paved path that leads to a Jewish, democratic, liberal, secure and just Israel.

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2023-09-22

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