Recovering from a 40-year delusion

The myth of the Yom Kippur ‘defeat’ may finally be loosening its hold on Israelis’ consciousness.

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September 30, 2013 15:07
Egyptian soldiers 1973

Egyptian soldiers 1973 311. (photo credit: Archives)

 
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This year, Yom Kippur didn’t end after 25 hours, as it usually does. In some newspapers, it continued right through Simhat Torah, with a continuous stream of articles commemorating the Yom Kippur War’s 40th anniversary.

Though commemorating the war is an annual ritual, what still shocked me about this year’s coverage was the casual way some interviewees recited a glaring counterfactual – Israel’s “defeat” – as if it were self-evident fact. Take, for instance, Yaakov Hasdai, an IDF officer, attorney, historian and researcher for the 1973 Agranat Commission, which investigated the war: “The failure of the Yom Kippur War hit the Israeli public like a shockwave. The conclusion was, mainly among the Left, that the defeat meant that we were not right.” Or Dr. Gideon Avital-Eppstein, who recently published a book about artistic responses to the war said: “Why is it that these three concepts − shell shock, the POW and the MIA − are so strongly associated with Yom Kippur? I think it has something to do with the perceived result of the war, to the fact that we did not win.”

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