Pillar of Defense and the Arab Amnesia Syndrome
By Ari Lieberman
On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise coordinated assault against Israel. In those first few days, the situation was indeed grim. In the south, some 700 Israeli soldiers manning the neglected Bar Lev fortifications along the Suez Canal faced off against 100,000 Egyptian soldiers backed by 2,000 tanks, thousands of artillery pieces, and hundreds of SAM batteries. In the north, on Israel's Golan Heights, the situation was no less desperate. Two understrength armored brigades comprising some 177 Israeli tanks were all that stood between 1,000 Syrian tanks and Galilee.
Despite these overwhelming odds, the Israel Defense Forces stood firm and quickly reversed the situation. By October 24, just eighteen days after the Arabs commenced their aggression, the Egyptian army was on the brink of collapse, and Israeli forces were operating with impunity over a large swath of Egyptian territory on the West Bank of the Suez Canal. The Syrians too were in full retreat, and Damascus was now within artillery range of Israeli guns. So complete was the Arab defeat in the Yom Kippur War that defense analysts have termed it more catastrophic than the Arab defeat of the 1967 Six-Day War.
Curiously and somewhat bizarrely, however, October 6 is marked as a day of celebration in Egypt. Government-controlled media and Arab historians portray the war as an Arab victory, perpetuating the silly myth. To Egypt and the Arab world at large, the war began and ended in those first few euphoric days. The remaining days remain a blur still, buried somewhere deep in the collective Arab subconscious.
This strange behavior of Arab amnesic denial is the norm rather than an aberration. It follows a consistent and predictable pattern of Arab aggression against Israel followed by the inevitable Arab defeat, followed by a period of denial. It closes with amnesia relating to the previous mauling, whereupon the cycle of Arab aggression begins anew.
Just nine years after the Yom Kippur War, Syrian and PLO provocations prompted an Israeli invasion of Lebanon, where the PLO had created its own mini-state. Within a week, Arafat's gagsters were holed up in West Beirut and pummeled by surrounding Israeli troops. Within two months, the PLO was sent packing to scattered destinations throughout the Middle East -- but this did not dissuade Arafat from referring to the Battle of Beirut as the Battle of Stalingrad. He used the same ridiculous analogy in the spring of 2002 during Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, referring to the Battle of Jenin as the Battle of "Jeningrad." Obviously, no one had bothered to inform the terror chieftain that the Soviets actually won the Battle of Stalingrad. But facts are meaningless in the wacky, make-believe world of Arab fantasy.
Consider Hezb'allah leader Hassan Nasrallah's comical boast that he had scored a "divine victory" over Israel during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The absurdity of Nasrallah's boast led one of Lebanon's leading commentators, Michael Young, to note that if Nasrallah considered the 2006 war a victory, "one dreads to imagine what Hezbollah would recognize as a military loss."
We've now come full circle with Operation Pillar of Defense. No sooner did Hamas cry uncle than their fearless leaders emerge from their pitiful sewers holes to declare "victory." Barely three years have passed since Operation Cast Lead, in which Hamas received a similar thrashing at the hands of Israel. Then as now, upon cessation of Israeli combat operations, the fearless leaders of Hamas emerged from their basement hideouts beneath Shifa Hospital to declare "victory." Then as now, Hamas was bloodied and defeated and was unable to inflict any symbolic or significant damage to Israel.
And so, in the latest round of Arab initiated belligerency, we've witnessed three of the four predictable stages -- Arab aggression, Arab defeat, and Arab denial. That war will come is a virtual certainty, but it is contingent on how quickly Arab amnesia sets in. No one can predict when that will occur. What we can predict with near certainty is that when war does break out, it will be followed by another Arab defeat. Until ordinary moderate Muslims -- and there are too few of those -- recognize that their fascist leaders are guiding them into medieval backwardness, Arabs will continue to experience defeat and humiliation in perpetuity.