A tale of two wars

Both were victories, but one is remembered as a disaster – an error that warps policy to this day.

June 10, 2013 17:49
IDF soldiers celebrate at the Western Wall in 1967

IDF soldiers celebrate at the Western Wall in 1967_370. (photo credit: Courtesy Werner Braun/Jerusalem Post Archives)

Last week’s anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War recalled a question that has long puzzled me, and whose implications go far beyond mere historical interest: Why is that war considered a miraculous victory while the 1973 Yom Kippur War is remembered as a terrible disaster? After all, both ended with the enemy resoundingly defeated and the Israel Defense Forces threatening Cairo and Damascus.

Certainly, the 1973 war produced ample reasons for dismay: It killed 3.5 times as many Israelis as 1967 did, took Israel by surprise due to severe intelligence blunders and revealed serious dysfunction in the IDF. Nevertheless, the end result of both wars was identical – and 1973 was arguably a far more miraculous victory.


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