In autumn of 1973, Israeli politicians ignored clear signs of an impending Arab attack in the run up to the “surprise” Yom Kippur Day War. King Hussein had himself landed secretly in Tel Aviv to warn Israel, but to no avail; the results were disastrous.
|General Arik Sharon visits the Lubavitcher Rebbe|
At the time, the Lubavitcher Rebbe in New York was very concerned with Israel’s lack of strength during the previous War of Attrition, especially when Israel decided against preemptively halting Egyptian missile maneuvers by crossing over the canal, and additionally warned of the harm that would be caused by the Bar Lev Line.
General Sharon describes his correspondence with the Rebbe:
“In the end, despite the General Headquarters recommendation, the government decided against the crossing operation. We would settle for the cease-fire and allow the missile defenses to come right up to the canal. I was quite concerned about this decision. It was, I believed, a dangerous display of weakness. My feelings on this subject were shared by others; I even received a long letter about it from Rabbi M. M. Schneerson, the revered Rabbi of the Lubavitcher Hassidic community. After my son’s death in 1967, Rabbi Schneerson had written me a beautiful condolence letter, and since then we had developed a warm relationship.
The Rebbe was interested and well versed in a surprising variety of subjects, and now he was deeply worried about the situation on the canal. The Bar-Lev Line he considered a disaster, an outmoded Maginot-like concept which could not be effective “in our time of jets and airmobile forces.” But it was the decision not to react to the missiles that had upset him even more, a sign, he thought, of accelerating Israeli weakness that could only have bad results. “In the beginning,” he wrote, “it was a matter of our choice. But in the end we will be forced. A year or two ago it depended on us.”
But then, “the government announced to all concerned that Israel was willing to give back the ‘occupied territories.’ That was a mistake. They should have used the term ‘liberated territories.’ That alone exhibited weakness. Then the weakness was enhanced when it became known that the Egyptians had brought up surface-to-air missiles, and we still did not react.”Not being involved on the political side myself during that period, I was unable to judge if the decision not to oppose the missiles was unavoidable. But from a military point of view it put us at a bad disadvantage, and three years later would create devastating problems for us during the initial stage of the Yom Kippur War.
After the war, in which more than 2,500 Israeli soldiers lost their lives, the Rebbe explained in a letter that although they did not heed warnings, Israel had still experienced a massive miracle.
Further military talks with Ariel Sharon to follow.