When visiting Israel, I noticed something unusual. Almost everywhere I went there were things named after previous Prime Ministers. Every one of them was represented from Ben Gurion through Rabin except for one—Golda Meir. Golda is revered by the Jewish community in the US, so her lack of representation was puzzling. So I asked my guide who had served in the IDF during the Yom Kippur War, why Golda was absent. He told me that Golda did many wonderful things for Israel, but many people feel that when Israel needed her most, she dropped the ball. During the build up for the war in 1973, she knew what was coming but didn’t act, and because of that Israel came within a hair’s breath of being destroyed.
Thirty-four years later there are reports of a major Syrian buildup along the boarder. These reports started in November and have become much more frequent. So the question is does Olmert prepare his nation to defend herself, or does he end up like Golda, remembered for dropping the ball. That is if there is anyone left to do the remembering.
Echoes of Yom Kippur War on Syrian Border 21 Adar 5767, 11 March 07 04:01 by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (IsraelNN.com) Syria has stationed thousands of missiles along the Israeli border, Agence France-Presse reported, relying on unnamed military sources who said the rockets are camouflaged or hidden underground and can strike from the Kinneret to Haifa. IDF officials responded that they have not noted any unusual activity and that Syria is not preparing to attack Israel, but increased arms sales from Russia to Syria have brought back bitter memories of 1973. Top military and intelligence advisors convinced Golda Meir, who was then Prime Minister, that her fears of war were exaggerated. The day before the Yom Kippur War broke out on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts, “We received a report that worried me,” the former Prime Minister wrote in her book My Life. She gathered top officials in her office hours before the beginning of Yom Kippur and, referring to the days before the Six Day War in 1967 told them, “I have a terrible feeling that this has all happened before.” At the end of the meeting, the head of intelligence told her aide, “Don’t worry. There won’t be a war.” Several hours later, Syria and Egypt staged a two-prong attack that caught the country unaware and with its back to the wall. All sources now agree that Syria is arming but do not agree on why. Russia has proposed a $1 billion sale of advanced anti-tank rockets to Syria, similar to the weapons that Hizbullah has successfully used against the IDF in last summer’s war. The weapons have a range of six kilometers (almost four miles), and some of the rockets probably would go to Hizbullah, which Israeli officials have repeatedly insisted is smuggling weapons into Lebanon from Syria. One scenario that discounts war is that Syria simply is preparing its defense against an Israeli attack. Former military intelligence chief Aharon Ze’evi recently said, “In Syria’s estimation it is preparing for a war this summer initiated by Israel, not Syria, and so it is focusing on reinforcing its arsenal.” One scenario that discounts an attack is that Syria simply is preparing its defense against an Israeli attack. Unlike 1973, Syria has partners, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Iran. PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has visited Syria and Iran several times, and two senior Hamas officials from the PA, protesting the unity government, have moved to Syria. Other indications that Syria is planning for war are reports by Golan Heights residents of massive construction along the border, possibly barracks for troops and underground bunkers, copying Hizbullah’s strategy. Another sign of Israeli concern is a report that the army has staged massive training exercises in Samaria. A flurry of diplomatic activity has begun on several fronts. The Bush administration Saturday issued statements that it is a “myth” that the United States has told Israel not to hold even exploratory talks with Syria. In addition, the Knesset this week has scheduled an unprecedented appearance of a citizen of an enemy state. Syrian-born American businessman Abe Suleiman, who has been involved in shuttle talks with Damascus, will testify. European Union (EU) foreign policy advisor Javier Solana said on Friday that he will travel to Damascus and resume high-level contacts after a two-year freeze. Syria is widely assumed to be actively involved in trying to help Hizbullah and other pro-Syrian parties topple the Lebanese government. The EU froze relations with Syria after the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose murder has been blamed on Syria.