Two very different stories are dominating the Israeli news today. However, oddly they seem connected. The main story is, of course, the Russian plan to (theoretically) remove chemical weapons from Syria (and President Obama’s less than stellar handling of the entire matter.) While there is universal agreement that the President’s policies have been muddled, and often incoherent, there are very divergent views on what that means for the future. On one hand, there are those who say the handling of the situation in Syria to date is proof that Israel can not relay on anyone for unconditional security support – including the US. After all, if Obama could not receive backing for something easy (i.e. bombing Syria in response to use of chemical weapons on civilians) how will he possibly garner support for doing something difficult- (i.e. attacking Iran.) On the other hand, there are also many here who think the outcome was better than anything we could have hoped for. After all, our (Israel's) biggest concern was that Syria’s chemical weapons would fall into the wrong hands– (e.g. either Hezbollah or Al Qaida). Now a system might be put in place to gather them up all these non-conventional weapons. It may be very difficult, but, this is– by far– the best outcome for Israel.
The second news story on this Erev Yom Kippur is a series of reflections on the 40 years since the Yom Kippur War. Forty years later, and with the perspective of time, two very different lessons have been internalized, by different groups of people. One group looks at what happened and says: We must always be vigilant. We must never be surprised. We should have preemptively struck regardless of the consequences. The second group says: We could have reached a peace agreement with Sadat. We must always be looking for a way to reach peace.
Interesting... Tonight the testimony of Prime Minister Golda Meir (given before the Agronnat Commission that investigated the war) was released. In one part of the testimony Golda stated:
"I am haunted by the decision not to have acted preemptively against the Egyptians, always wondering if some of the soldiers who are not with us would be with us today if I would have agreed to a strike. On the other hand, if we had struck, we probably would not have received the American airlift of arms. I wonder how many others would have died because we ran out of equipment."