My former boss at Ma’ariv, Yaacov Erez, had a framed copy of an article hanging
prominently on the wall of his office. He had sent the article to the IDF censor
to get approval before going to press on October 5, 1973, the day before the Yom
Kippur War broke out.
The article described in detail how dozens of
Egyptian anti-missile tanks and jeeps were amassing along the Gulf of
The censor crossed out just about everything except the byline, so
instead the newspaper printed an article about how IDF troops were vigilantly
following the movement on the Egyptian side of the border and that steps were
being taken to prevent the possibility of a surprise attack.
just it – no steps were in fact taken.
Since then, IDF censorship has
amended its protocol, but there is still plenty of room for improvements. Even
today, in 2013, Israel is once again facing critical security decisions. The
fate of the State of Israel is still an unknown. Despite the fact that a great
deal of time has passed, and that Israel is stronger than it was then, we have
not been able to let our defenses down even for a moment. Dangers are constantly
developing and the decisions we make now are no less critical or important than
they were back then. Perhaps they are even more so now.
There is a real
need to examine and explore what happened just before the Yom Kippur War. And
I’m not addressing the IDF, which has opened its archives. I’m talking about the
state, the government, the political echelon, which the Agranat Commission so
staunchly protected. The time has come for the State Archives to be opened so
that we can address the secrets that are still relevant today.
5, 2013, a group of senior officers, soldiers and researches led by Aviram
Barkai sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu describing how they
left their childhoods out on the battlefields of the Golan and Sinai back in the
fall of 1973. They didn’t run away from danger, but stayed and fought valiantly
for the Jewish state. Some 2,600 of their friends died in the war, 500 of them
in the first 24 hours.
But when the war was over, they were angry. They
wanted to understand how and why events happened as they did. But they received
no answers. So they went on with their lives, found jobs, raised
They’ve waited 40 years since those traumatic experiences left
them scarred. They demand that closed state archival material relating directly
or indirectly to the war be opened to the public.
In the letter, they
describe how they still feel that Israel is their only home and that they and
their children and their grandchildren will stand and fight again for its
And that is why they believe that the time has come to be
courageous and to take responsibility for our history and open the archives. For
them and their children and their grandchildren. For the future
So that everyone will know and understand what happened. So
that we can learn from our mistakes.
But there was no response. So on
June 2, 2013, a follow-up letter was sent requesting that transcripts of
discussions that took place in the months leading up to October 1973 relating to
the possibility of war breaking out be released to the public. They also asked
for information regarding actions taken by the government during the turbulent
days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur 1973, as well as discussions and
decisions that were taken from the outbreak and until the conclusion of the
They are waiting for a reply.
The letter continues, “Enough
We want once and for all to put behind us these difficult
questions that for 40 years have given us no rest. We beg of you, order your
subordinates to release the documents in question. We know that you are the one
who can make this happen. The time has come. It’s now up to you to do the right
Translated by Hannah Hochner.