Michael Doran on Israel’s Wars: 1973 and 2023

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On October 6, 1973, on Yom Kippur, the forces of Egypt and Syria invaded Israel and launched the Yom Kippur War. Fifty years and one day later, Hamas terrorists invaded southwest Israel, killed some 1400 Israelis, took some 200 hostages, and, in so doing, opened up a new front in the simmering conflict that pits Iran and its supporters—China and Russia among them—against Israel and its chief supporter, the United States.

After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, an Israeli board, known as the Agranat Commission, issued a report investigating the failings of the IDF leading up to the war. No commission has yet been established to investigate the intelligence and operational failures that allowed the October 7 massacre to take place. But there are clearly some echoes and similarities between the two attacks. To explore them, Michael Doran joins Mosaic editor and Tikvah Podcast host Jonathan Silver for a discussion.

Doran is the author of the October essay at Mosaic, “The Hidden Calculation behind the Yom Kippur War,” which argues that Israeli leaders made a conscious choice not to preempt the Egyptians and take the initiative, as they had so successfully in the 1967 Six Day War, because they were thinking about the U.S. Israel relationship. They didn’t know that war was looming, exactly, but they knew that something might happen. They certainly didn’t know the intensity of the offensive campaigns against Israel, or about the proficiency or tactical deployment of anti-aircraft missile technology layered into Egyptian defenses—much the same as, this year, they didn’t know about Hamas’s ability to use drones and gliders.

Doran is also the instructor of a free new online course on the same subject, which can be found at yomkippurwar.www.tikvahfund.org.

The conversation took place on a live broadcast on October 18 to subscribers of Mosaic and to Tikvah’s online course supporters, who also got the chance to ask questions.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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