Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Plans" and Memories of 1973

This is cross-posted on Shiloh Musings under a different title.

Just because Israel's Defense Forces have prepared to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities doesn't mean that the plans are truly operational.

Every single country has its military prepared for operations it may never order. In Hebrew, the term is "b'megurot," in the "drawer," or "closet."

Sometimes, to "shut up" military officers and keep them from nagging their superiors, they're given a unit or platoon of soldiers for their "pet" battle plans. This doesn't mean that the plans are taken seriously. It's just good management to let the overly dreaming officer play soldiers so he'll stop driving everyone nuts.

A classic case was in post Six Days War Israel, 1967. During the summer of 1973, my husband attended an unforgettable World Betar Convention. He told me that some of the older Israelis there were bragging about their IDF positions and history. Somebody got the late Gidon Shiponi to reveal his army reserves job:

"Arik Sharon and I are training men to cross the Suez Canal."

That sounded ridiculously far-fetched, even to Betarim, but that's the army, and that was Arik Sharon, and that was Gidon Shiponi. And that's probably why Arik was passed over for Ramat Kal, Chief of Staff.

Well, I don't know how many of you remember who had the last laugh.

Yom Kippur, October, 1973, Israel was shocked by coordinated attacks by Egypt and Syria, on our northern and southern fronts, the northern and southern June, 1967, cease-fire lines. Our army and politicians were in a frenzy of panic. All of our military experts had declared us invincible. We had been reassured over and over that the Arabs would never attack us again.

There was only one spot of calm, and that was Arik Sharon. He and his officers, including Shiponi of course, were fully prepared. They shocked Egypt by efficiently crossing the canal.

But I have no doubt, that most surprised were Sharon's superiors, including the politicians in the know, who had never expected those plans to go any further than some "reserve duty exercise."

The IDF file cabinets are full of "what if" plans, long past their possible usefulness. Every army has them. You have to be prepared for all possibilities. They're supposed to be kept top secret, since their effectiveness is severely reduced when the element of surprise is deleted.

It was once much easier for Israel to keep its secret plans secret. No foreign army was privileged to know anything. Israeli army officers didn't consult with foreign countries. Israel didn't ask permission. We were much stronger then.

Our security is endangered by the close contact, the close connections we now have with the United States. It's to our detriment and possible, G-d forbid, destruction. We should reject all American aid and advice. I don't want to be killed by kindness and Trojan Horses. I fear our "friends" more than our enemies.

G-d willing a Shavua Tov, A Good Week to us all.


Nissan Teman said...

re: Gidon Shiponi
Interesting what you relay about what Gidon told you, way back when. I don't know if you or others reading the blog are aware of Gidon having received a tzalash (Chief of Staff Citation) for his actions during the Yom Kippur War in connection with the crossing of the Suez Canal "For Bravery, Resourcefulness and Leadership Ability - During the Yom Kippur War Major Gidon Shiponi served as a headquarters officer. On Oct. 18, 1973 Major Gidon Shiponi was involved in transferring supplies to the west bank of the canal. When the convoy reached the bridges it took heavy artillery shelling. In the shelling drivers and vehicles were hit. Despite the shelling Major Gidon Shiponi made his way on foot between the vehicles and spurred on the drivers to quickly move the vehicles over the bridges to the west bank of the canal. Major Gidon Shiponi succeeded in getting most of the vehicles of the convoy to the west bank, and thus supplied all units of the brigade with the supplies needed to continue fighting. In his actions Major Gidon Shiponi exhibited bravery, resourcefulness and leadership."
Gidon was a true Betari. He grew up in the movement,the child of Betarim. He served as Rosh Hanhaga Artzit of Betar Eretz Israel and was a Betar Shaliach in South Africa and in the US. He died way too young. Those of us who worked with him in the US well remember how "resourceful" he was.
I remember that after I went to his funeral somebody asked me why I went to the funeral, when I was not a "fan" of his, to which I responded that Gidon z"l got a tzalash, not me and not you. I remember Gidon Shiponi as a hero of Israel. Yehi zichro baruch.
Nissan Teman
Pardes Hanna

Batya said...

Nissan, thanks for the additional information. Gidon certainly was a very special person, and we in Betarim weren't really aware of that side of him.