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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
October, 6 2010 The 37th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War
Today is the 37th anniversary of the start of the Yom kippur War. While the media in Israel often pays the date some note, this year thanks to the release of the minutes of the meetings of the General Staff and the government at the beginning of the war, it became today's dominant story. There were no real relevations in the newly released documents, just more data points detailing the level of disarray and disconnect that existed within leadership of the military, and to a lesser degree within the civilian leadership in the hours before, as well as the hours immediately after the start of the war. The nation may have been saved by the bravery of a very small number of soldiers during the critical hours, especially on the Golan Heights. The facts cited in the newly released documents helped underscore, once again, how dangerous the “conceptia” was-- a world view that was accepted by all of Israel’s political and military elite. One of the major lessons of the war, a lesson that has continuously failed to be learned in Israel, is the need for extensive and open discussions in government to question all assumptions before making key decisions. That is clearly not happening now in the Israeli government in any large forum.
The discussions that do go on are ridiculous, harmful ones, like the legislation passed by the government today to amend the citizenship laws, forcing new citizens to swear allegience to a Jewish and democratic state of Israel. That is going to fly really well in the world of public opinion.
I recommend a few pieces to read from the press in the last few days: The first, is a post by Jeffery Goldberg on the Atlantic web site About the settlements: are-settlements-the-key-to-middle-east-peace-
The second, is an article by Daniel Gordis in the online version of Commentary:
The Other Existential Threat That piece is getting a fair amount of online play.
If you were expecting to read an update on the state of the peace talks, I do not have one. I have no idea if any agreement will be reached between Israel, the US and the Palestinians in the coming days.
In memory of those who died 37 years ago, here is a link to my favorite song, entitled The Winter of 73"
The 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur war
The Yom Kippur war was the most traumatic event for Israeli citizens since the Holocaust. 40 years had already passed since that war but the memories are still painful.
The most immediate threat during the Yom Kippur war was from the Syrian army which overran the Israeli positions in the first few hours of the war. At the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur holiday, the Syrian army was mostly unopposed and on its way into northern Israel (not too far from my hometown at the time). Over the years I read many books full of logical and military explanations why the Syrian army failed to meet its objective none of them convinced me. Many people see Israel’s victory in the 1967 war as a sign of G_d’s support of Israel. I think that for many Israelis, overcoming the horror of the first few days of the Yom Kippur War and turning around an almost sure defeat into an overwhelming victory is just as much sign of G_d’s support.
Nonetheless, the war’s aftershock lasted for many years it is always a topic of conversation for Israelis from my generation, especially when the Yom Kippur Holiday arrives. To understand how Israelis feel about the war, one should watch the movie “Kippur”. It is available on Netflix. This is the only movie made in Israel about the war. It was first shown in 2000 (twenty seven years after the war ended). The movie is not about combat or about great victory it describes the experience of a small reserve medevac (military medical evacuation) team. The movie is based on the real-life experience of the filmmaker. The movie is in Hebrew however, the dialogs are few and short so it’s easy to follow the movie while reading the English subtitles. The movie is not too graphic. It is not a feel-good movie. If there is one word I could use to describe how I felt when the movie ended, I would say sadness.
We are just about to celebrate the 2013 Yom Kippur holiday. I’m thinking about today’s war talks around the world regarding the imminent attack by US forces on Syria and the possible Syrian retaliatory attack on Israel, using weapon of mass destruction. I pray that this time Israel won’t experience such a catastrophic event and that G_d intervention (real or presumed) won’t be needed.
The Connection Between the 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War and 150th of the Battle of Gettysburg
Today on the civilian calendar marks 40 years to the Yom Kippur War. While we in Israel have already been marking this occasion since Yom Kippur on the Jewish calendar a few weeks ago, today is the day the rest of the world recalls this watershed event in both our history and that of the Middle East. A phenomenon that has surfaced during this period is that veterans are telling their stories. Little known details of amazing valor during battles, previously unpublished transcripts of a desperate dialogue between military and political leaders, the unreal accomplishments of men and units in incredibly difficult situations, are all coming out now. The press has given this phenomenon attention. It is almost as if the 40 th anniversary signaled the moment to let out what has been kept quiet for so long.
Desperate situations, especially in battle, tend to bring out the best in people. Heroes and legends are born. Some of these people we know about. Many we only learn about after many years. Many of these heroic stories we will never hear about, as there is no one to tell them.
When growing up in the United States, I was drawn, like many others, to the American Civil War. I visited most of the battlefields with my parents as a child and continued my fascination with the subject to this day. I’m not the only one. These past two years and the next two, mark the 150 th anniversary of the Civil War. This past July 1-3 marked the 150 th anniversary of the greatest battle ever fought on the American continent – Gettysburg. Some 300,000 people attended the commemoration and 10,000 people participated in the reenactment of the battle. That’s some serious interest. (Check out this article from CNN on the subject http://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/28/travel/gettysburg-anniversary/index.html )
When I made Aliyah back in 1988, I began to connect with our own military history in Israel. I never participated in a reenactment, but I did serve for many years in the IDF (and still proudly serve in the reserves to this day). One of the people I had the honor of working with in a fantastic program called “In the Footseps of Warriors” (which brings high school students to the Golan to learn about the battles fought there in 1967 and 1973) was Avigdor Kahalani, the hero of the battle of the Valley of Tears in the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War. For many years when I served in the IDF Spokesman’s Unit and would take American visitors to the Valley of Tears battlefield, I couldn’t help but make the comparison to the battle of Gettysburg, which though fought 150 years ago and with different technology, was almost the same battle, with the same dire consequences on the line and a similar result at the end.
I have always found this comparison fascinating and feel it appropriate to share as we mark the 40 th and 150 th anniversaries, respectively, of the battles of the Valley of Tears and Gettysburg.
The southern invasion of the north could have ended the war in the South’s favor, had they won a decisive victory at Gettysburg. On the second day of that great battle that cost 50,000 casualties, the Union Army was sitting pretty on the high ground. General Robert E. Lee tried to flank the Union lines by a courageous attack on a hill called Little Round Top. Only moments before the Southerners charged up the hill, the Northerners realized there wasn’t anyone manning this critical position and rushed as many people as could be rounded up to defend the hill at all costs. The last men in line were under the command of Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain. If the Confederates got past them, there was no one behind them. The Union lines would be cut off from Washington. Under Chamberlain’s direction, the line held against charge after charge until finally, there was no ammunition left. Chamberlain ordered a counter charge down the hill with bayonets and this, after more than 10 Southern charges, is what finally settled the manner. This forced Lee’s hand the next day to gamble on what became Pickett’s Charge, a final, desperate charge of 12,000 people across a one mile open field into the waiting Union cannon and rifles. They never had a chance. That was the turning point of the war.
Fast forward to 1973. On the third day of fighting in the northern sector of the Golan Heights, while the regular Israeli forces were holding the lines until the reserves could arrive, the situation became desperate. The Syrians had overrun the Israeli positions in the southern Golan and were now poised to do the same in the northern sector. If they succeeded, there would be nothing stopping them from continuing across the narrow state, some 50 miles to Haifa, effectively cutting Israel in two. What stood between the were the remnants of the 77th brigade of the 7th Division fighting on the Golan, commanded by Lt. Col. Avigdor Kahalani. Several hundred Syrian tanks were quickly moving across the valley. Some 40 Israeli tanks were all that stood in their way. The Israeli tanks, some without ammunition, feared being exposed by advancing towards the rampart from where they would control the valley below. But Kahalani pushed, bullied, threatened, did whatever necessary to push them, ultimately saying he was going himself, that everyone who could should follow. And slowly they did. It was a race to the high ground (just like at Little Round Top) but once the Israeli tanks reached the rampart, they controlled everything below and one by one, as if in a shooting gallery, destroyed the Syrian tanks. By battle’s end, some 70 had been destroyed, the Israeli position had held, the Syrian attack had faltered. A couple of days later, with the arrival of the reserves, the Israeli army counterattacked into Syria and as we say, the rest (huge Israeli victory) is history
Two different battles celebrating landmark occasions this year fought 110 years apart, yet so similar in nature. So similar in the heroism displayed. So similar in the potential consequence of failure and so similar in the consequence of the success. While I remain a buff of the Civil War, the heroic tales of our own wars is far closer to home, especially with a son in the army. And like the rest of Israel, I pay tribute to all those who fought and to those who fell, with a solemn salute.
By Benjamin Kerstein
IDF soldiers at the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Photo: Israeli Ministry of Defense.
The Israel Defense Forces’ Archives released a series of digitized color videos of the Yom Kippur War on Tuesday to mark the 47th anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict.
Israel lost nearly 3,000 soldiers during the weeks-long conflict in October 1973, which began with an Egyptian-Syrian surprise attack on the Jewish state’s northern and southern borders. Although Israel ultimately repelled the invasions, the cost was devastating to the young country and the war remains seared in the nation’s collective memory.
Israeli news site Walla reported that most of the newly-released images had not been seen by the public before, and color footage of the war is generally rare, with most of the available video shot in black and white.
The IDF Archives digitized the footage, culled from 150,000 hours of audio and video materials, and upgraded the image quality as much as possible. The digital format also allows for the preservation of the materials for posterity.
The footage includes images of the fighting along the Suez Canal and in the Sinai Peninsula, Air Force maneuvers and parachute operations. Almost all the footage was shot by members of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
It also shows visits by the IDF chief of staff and other generals to the southern front, and even a performance to soldiers by famed Fiddler on the Roof actor Haim Topol.
The Archives’ manager, Ilana Alon, called the images “treasures” and said the digitization process had been ongoing for a decade already.
While much of the footage had been transferred to video, the original film elements were carefully preserved, as archivists knew that video technology would improve in the future.
“There is a huge difference in quality when the process of digitization is done directly from the original film,” Alon noted.
Lessons for today on the 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War
This weekend Jews around the world will mark Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. This year’s High Holiday will also mark the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War of 1973—a war that left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of Israelis and Jews around the world. Following the overwhelming victory in the Six Day War of 1967, Israelis were more confident than ever of their military superiority. Recently declassified documents show very clearly the intelligence warnings that were received but not properly heeded in the lead up to the onslaught on October 6 th – Yom Kippur – 1973. The result was a conflict whose early hours brought real fear that the end might be nigh. It concluded with Israel back in control of the same territory it had held prior to the war, but in a much different collective state of mind.
Whereas 1967 was a watershed moment in building the confidence of the still-fledgling Jewish State, 1973 was in many ways a reality check—a moment of humility for the IDF and a reminder of the need for constant vigilance. It showed clearly the dangers associated with military overconfidence verging on arrogance, and shattered the myth of IDF invincibility. It was also a clear signal to Israel’s leaders that the present situation of ongoing conflict was untenable, and to Israel’s enemies of the true strength and resolve of the Jewish State to defend itself. Only five years later, Menachem Begin was negotiating peace with Egypt following Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s unprecedented breakthrough visit to Jerusalem.
Forty years on, Yom Kippur is a fitting time to remember this particular episode in Jewish history, and the lessons it might still offer to us today. A common (and accurate) adage among Jews describing the holidays is: “The tried to kill us, we survived, now let’s eat.” Yom Kippur is different—the Jewish people spend the day in humility, abstaining from food and drink, reflecting on the past and acknowledging our mistakes, and pledging to rectify them in the new year. The following are lessons we might reflect upon this year, as the Jewish community marks both Yom Kippur and the fortieth anniversary of Israel’s last existential war.
The Imperative to Stand on Guard: 1973 taught us of the need for constant vigilance in the face of our enemies. Israel’s challenges today are many and significant. The ongoing civil war in Syria threatens to set the region alight, or to allow the spread of chemical weapons to terrorist groups. The ongoing turmoil in Egypt shows the vulnerability of Israel’s peace agreements in the face of radical change. Hezbollah and Hamas have newer, better, and more plentiful stocks of missiles ready for the next confrontation with Israel. And the spectre of a future Iranian nuclear weapons capability threatens to drive a dangerous regional nuclear arms race. Israel’s leaders need to be resolute in addressing all of these threats prudently – and with a particular understanding of the lessons of Israel’s past wars.
The Imperative to Fight Isolation: In addition to security threats, Israel’s detractors around the world aim to isolate Israelis in their home countries and on the international stage. Across the Arab and Muslim world, anti-Israel chants are often leveraged as the one unifying rallying call for the masses. And in the West, we have witnessed the development of a civil society movement which aims to contribute to Israel’s isolation through their call for boycotts (economic, cultural, and academic) against the Jewish State and her supporters. This has been further complicated by broadening calls for boycotts targeting West Bank settlements alone, including the recent decision of the European Union to prevent collaboration on projects involving the settlements.
Just as Israel’s military leaders and frontline soldiers must be vigilant in the face of various conventional threats, so must the Jewish community in the Diaspora be vigilant combatting the demonization and delegitimization of Israel in our own countries and on our university campuses. However, the most effective way to do so is not through angry confrontation of our adversaries in the street. Rather, it is through telling Israel’s myriad compelling stories in terms of its history, culture and its remarkable contributions to the world in science, arts, business and beyond. And—perhaps most importantly—it is about continuing to build social, economic, and academic bridges between Israelis and Canadians through new initiatives that further common value and shared interest.
The Imperative to Humility: 1973 showed us clearly the dangers of developing too much “swagger” in relation to our enemies.
Like any democracy, Israel is home to divisive and controversial – even colourful – politicians. There are times when particular comments that inevitably emerge from such free and raucous politics are less than helpful in advancing the cause of peace in our volatile and turbulent region . As Zionists and believers in democracy, all of us – in Israel or around the world – should strive for responsible humility in our rhetoric and in the policies we espouse.
The Imperative for Peace: There are many who would argue that, in the face of such regional instability and uncertainty about the future, Israel should hunker down and not take any risks, especially with regards to the peace process. However, we would suggest the opposite is true—that is precisely because of the regional instability and uncertainty that Israel has an imperative to move forward with reaching a sustainable and respectful co-existence with the Palestinians sooner rather than later. And it is also imperative that all who value an eventual peaceful settlement encourage both sides to make difficult compromises for peace and – where possible – undertake trust-building measures to develop a cycle of coexistence and positive reciprocity.
Israel Marks 36th Anniversary of Yom Kippur War
At ceremony in Jerusalem, Deputy Defense Min. speaks of IDF troops' bravery in repelling 1973 assault.
Israel marked on Tuesday the 36th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, one of the most costly and traumatic conflicts in the country's history.
At a state ceremony at Israel's national cemetery on Mount Herzl, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai (Labor) spoke of the bravery of the Israel Defense Forces soldiers who repelled the assault.
"Whoever fought in the tough battles in the [Suez] Canal and the Golan Heights is well aware that it was not the wisdom of leaders but the heroism of warriors in the battlefields that saved the State of Israel," he said.
A coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria launched the war in a surprise attack on the Jewish holiday in 1973.
More than 2,600 Israelis were killed in the hostilities, which had far-reaching effects on Israel and the entire Middle East.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also attended the ceremony, during which a cantor recited the Hebrew prayer of mourning El Malei Rachamim.
Vilnai added: "The Yom Kippur War is going further and further away. [but] the impression the war left on the state and on the army's preparedness is very deep."
Jerusalem: Israelis Mourn War Dead On First Anniversary Of "Yom Kippur" War. 1974
As United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger continued his Middle East Peace mission, Israel mourned on Monday (14 October) the nearly two thousand officers and men of its armed forces who fell during the Middle East war a year ago.
LV and CU Grieving families around graves (3 shots)
CU ZOOM OUT soldier beside eternal flame
LV PAN People watch Prime Minister Rabin and General Ephrat at attention during siren
LV PAN People in streets of Tel Aviv stand to attention during siren
SV Guard of honour at monument
CU and SV Rabbi chants, Rabin and Ephrat listen (2 shots)
SV PAN Rabin lays wreath
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: As United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger continued his Middle East Peace mission, Israel mourned on Monday (14 October) the nearly two thousand officers and men of its armed forces who fell during the Middle East war a year ago. That war saw some of the greatest armoured battles since the Second World War and ended with Israel driving the Syrians back along the road to Damascus and thrusting deep across the Suez canal into the heartland of Egypt.
But victory did not mean peace for the Israelis. United in their new found strength and re-armed by the Soviet Union the Arab States made use of their vast oil resources as a political weapon to hold over the heads of Western nations friendly to Israel.
The United States in particular had to decide how far support for Israel was worth the risk of yet another Arab-Israeli war.
The result has been a gradual withdrawal from Arab territory by the Israelis, symbolically market by the return of the town of Kuneitra to the Syrians and the Suez canal to Egypt.
During this period, Arab guerrillas have struck hard at targets in Israel while in return Israeli naval and air force units have hit targets in Syria and Lebanon.
All this has resulted in a steady trickle of casualties for Israel many of whose inhabitants now regard the Arabs with respect and are beginning to accept the fact that only if Arab and Jew settle their differences at the conference table can their be lasting peace in the Middle East.
SYNOPSIS: As Dr. Kissinger continued his efforts to find a permanent peace settlement for the Middle East, Israel mourned the nearly two thousand officers and men who fell in the October war a year ago. That fourth Arab-Israeli conflict was the bloodiest between them for a quarter of a century. Israel threw back the advance of the Syrians and Egyptians and counter-attacked to win the war. But the price was high, leaving her with inflation and unrest at home.
The Israeli people demanded a change in government. Mrs. Golda Meir stepped down and General Yitshak Rabin became Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Rabin and General Ephrat, who is chief of Israel's Central Command, took part in the ceremonies held in Jerusalem's Mount Herzl cemetery in remembrance of those who fell on the battlefield. As a siren sounded everyone stood to attention.
The siren was the signal for all traffic to stop throughout Israel. In Tel Aviv, men and women stood in silence in the streets as they paid their respects to those who fell in the Yom Kippur War.
As Israel remembered her dead, many feared the resumption of yet another war. Israel has been continuously harassed by guerrilla attacks and has struck back hard.
Israel's new leaders are displaying a more flexible attitude. Mr. Rabin has publicly stated that Israel is prepared to make territorial concessions as a price for peace. The town of Kuneitra has already been returned to Syria and the Suez canal to Egypt.
Israel and Egypt have expressed their hopes for a peace settlement, but there are still many obstacles in the way. Egypt recently recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation arousing great resentment in Israel which has suffered many guerrilla attacks.
September 11th and the 40th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War
The calendar turns to September 11th and once more the scene shifts. The perfect blue New York sky, the succession of images, indelible now, unfathomable then. And then a persistent fear that the day of terror could be just the beginning of something or even, G*d forbid, the end. And over time the emerging of faces of new enemies and names and stories of what would be tallied as 2,978 victims.
As our country braces for, remembers and in many cases relives the day that destroyed so many lives, Jews and especially Israelis are approaching a different anniversary as well. Forty years ago the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, fell in October, not September. However, on Friday night as Yom Kippur begins, Israelis will also remember the day when this most sacred occasion of fasting and prayer was shattered by a massive invasion by Egyptian and Syrian forces and the call across the small nation to report to the front to stave off the destruction of their homeland.
By the end of the war, Israel had turned the tide and brought its forces within the environs of both Cairo and Damascus, but in a country of less than 3.5 million in 1973 and whose military is drawn from across the population, the Yom Kippur War cost the lives of nearly 2,800 Israeli soldiers and left three times that many with serious wounds. The war, while ultimately won, cut deep into the psyche of Israel, forcing a country that had felt invincible after the Six Day War to stare at its own mortality. For some, the assault meant the inevitability of hostility with Arab neighbors. For others the urgency of peace. But for much of Israel the scars are still felt, 40 years later.
September 11th stands on its own as does the Yom Kippur War. This year, however, the proximity of the anniversaries on two different calendars leads me to think about one through the lens of the other. The theme that runs through both is that we must learn both through what is broken and what is whole. The 40-day period that begins with the month of Elul, during which the attack occurred in 2001, through to Yom Kippur upon whose gateway the anniversary falls this year reinforces this theme through the dots and dashes of the shofar blasts and the words of the liturgy. Our worst fears are triggered as things seem to go to pieces, and they do not necessarily dissipate when order is restored. However, the difference between fear and hope is not a difference between being broken and being whole. The difference between fear and hope is between seeing the brokenness as something to learn from even as we hurt and stand with those who mourn.
May the memories of the fallen and stories of courage inspire us to move from fear to hope and help us bring about a world of wholeness and peace.
Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset plenum (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a thinly veiled defense of a possible Israeli preemptive strike on Iran during a Knesset commemoration Tuesday of the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War,” reports the Times of Israel . “In a speech to MKs [Members of Knesset] about the war, in which Israel was surprised by a coordinated Arab invasion on the northern and southern fronts, Netanyahu explained that IDF soldiers who fought in the bitter battles of that war ‘saved us from paying the price of complacency.’ In the end we won a great victory, but the lessons of the war have stayed with us these 40 years,’” Netanyahu said.
“The first lesson is to never underestimate a threat, never underestimate an enemy, never ignore the signs of danger,” Netanyahu said. “We can’t assume the enemy will act in ways that are convenient for us. The enemy can surprise us. Israel will not fall asleep on its watch again.”
“The second lesson, he added, was that ‘we can’t surrender the option of a preventive strike. It is not necessary in every situation, and it must be weighed carefully and seriously. But there are situations in which paying heed to the international price of such a step is outweighed by the price in blood we will pay if we absorb a strategic strike that will demand a response later on, and perhaps too late.'”
Netanyahu added: “A preventive war, even a preventive strike, is among the most difficult decisions a government can take, because it will never be able to prove what would have happened if it had not acted. But the key difference between the  Six Day War and the  Yom Kippur War lies first of all in the fact that in the Six Day War we launched a preventive strike that broke the chokehold our enemies had placed on us, and on Yom Kippur the government decided, despite all warnings, to absorb the full force of an enemy attack.”
“The prime minister is engaged in a blitz of international meetings and interviews warning against any slackening of international sanctions directed at the Iranian regime over its nuclear enrichment program,” the Times reported. “Netanyahu has openly threatened that Israel would unilaterally attack the Iranian nuclear program if it was allowed to advance to the point where Iran was able to develop a nuclear weapon. Sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office suggested the Tuesday speech was directed at the Iranian issue. Netanyahu also offered hints at Israel’s negotiating position in peace talks with the Palestinians.”
“The third lesson” of the war, he said, “is the strategic importance of buffer zones. [Israel’s] control of the Golan [Heights] and the Sinai Peninsula [in 1973] prevented an enemy penetration deep into the country” in the first days of the war.
“Press reports sourced to leaks from the peace talks with the Palestinians have suggested in recent days that Israel seeks to retain security control over the Jordan Valley as a buffer zone to the east,” noted the Times.
And, Netanyahu said, “there is a fourth lesson: Peace is attained from a position of strength. In the Yom Kippur War, despite the enemy’s excellent opening position, they learned they could not best us with weapons. Five years later, [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat and [prime minister Menachem] Begin signed a peace deal, and later [peace accords were signed] with Jordan. Now we are engaged in a serious investment in [making] peace with the Palestinians. Peace was achieved when our neighbors understood we are powerful and will not disappear.”
1st Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War
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Yom Kippur War, A Physician's Account. מלחמת יום הכיפורים, סיפורו של רופא גדודי
The site contains Dr. Itzhak Brook's book, "In the Sands of Sinai, a Physician's Account of the Yom Kippur War." It also contains links to obtain the book in paperback and Kindle format from Amazon.com. The book describes Dr. Brook's personal experiences, struggles, fears and challenges as he cared for his soldiers' physical and emotional needs, including their post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It gives a perspective of the 1973 war that shaped the author's own life and Israel's identity.
The Yom Kippur War was launched in 1973 in a surprise attack by Syria and Egypt . This Arab-Israeli war posed the most serious threat to the existence of Israel in modern history. Even though Israel was eventually able to achieve a military victory, the country paid a steep price, both in lives lost and in the citizenry’s confidence in their leaders and themselves. Deep within the psyche of the nation, this conflict shattered conventional wisdom that the country was invincible.
This book recounts the author’s personal experiences as a battalion physician during that time. Expecting to heal his soldiers’ physical combat wounds, Brook unexpectedly must address his soldiers’ psychological battlefield trauma (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It describes how he coped with his soldiers’ medical and psychological issues, the daily struggle of survival in the battle zone, and everyone’s growing anxiety. Through the lens of one participant, the reader can experience the resourcefulness exhibited during the time of war and the struggle to preserve one’s humanity in the midst of it all. In unvarnished details from the mundane to the catastrophic, he describes his perspective of a war that shaped his own life, and his nation's fragile identity.