Learning the lesson

The Yom Kippur War of 1973 had a better ending than Israel could reasonably have expected given the series of mistakes made at the time by the military, intelligence, and political hierarchy. And the Agranat Commission, set up to try and establish what went wrong, is generally considered to have done a good job.

The information from the Commission is not all in the public forum, yet, and new snippets – such as testimony given – surface to add to the detail. For example, see today’s Times of Israel piece.

The encouraging feature is that, at least in the intelligence community, they see the Agranat Commission’s report as a “cautionary tale.”

As it says in the article:

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said recently that he read the report in its entirety as soon as he was told in 1995 that he would be appointed the director of Military Intelligence…

Well done that man. This is even better:

…the current holder of that post, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, took the unusual step of publishing an op-ed in the Maariv daily earlier this month explaining how Military Intelligence’s failure in October 1973 had influenced him.

This is so much better than the arrogance of “we are better than our enemies” and “we know it all” that some – and the emphasis is on “some” – of the establishment have exhibited. Kochavi seems to be suitably well grounded.

“An organization enjoying a feeling of satisfaction, without the constant presence of doubt and apprehension,” he wrote, “paves its path to failure.”

If we in Israel are to survive, that type of attitude is a damn fine foundation. Last night’s Gaza border incident underlines that the attitude – or rather the theory – must also be put into practice, every single day and night.