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P. David Hornik

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August 18, 2013 - 10:00 am

PJ-Woodstock-2

No exaggeration: the Israeli air force = survival.

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared independence. Its War of Independence began that same night as Egyptian, Syria, Jordanian, and Iraqi forces started moving toward its territory. The new prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, gave Israel a 50-50 chance of surviving the war.

At that time the Israeli air force was a ragtag assemblage, almost all the airmen foreign volunteers. But it succeeded in holding off early Egyptian ground and air advances, and ended up playing a key role in Israel’s victory and survival.

The next threat to survival came in May and June 1967 as Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, and eventually also Jordanian forces massed for what they were sure would be a final, decisive attack on the young Jewish state. Among many other such statements by Arab leaders at the time, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser said, “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel.”

The Six Day War opened on the morning of June 5 with a preemptive attack by the Israeli air force that destroyed the Egyptian air force. Later in the morning Israeli planes — fortunately not butterflies — took out the Jordanian and Syrian air forces as well. The path was cleared to a lightning Israeli victory over Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq.

The 1973 Yom Kippur War was the only one where it appeared for a while that Israel could lose and sink into oblivion. This time, on the morning of October 6 (it was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year), the Israeli leadership decided not to use the air force in a preemptive raid on Egyptian and Syrian forces — for fear of jeopardizing U.S. support.

The result was that the war went much worse than the 1967 war. Although Israel eventually turned the tide and won, it lost about 2700 soldiers — compared to about 700 in 1967 when it had taken the initiative and ordered a quick air strike.

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All Comments   (26)
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Another subtle error --

The 1973 Yom Kippur War was the only one where it appeared for a while that Israel could lose and sink into oblivion.

Not so. Israel's continued existence was very much in doubt in 1948. (You quote Ben-Gurion as giving Israel a 50%-50% chance of survival; most analysts of the time gave far poorer odds.) And Israel's survival was very much in doubt in in May 1967; this is often forgotten in light of Israel's lightning-quick and overwhelmingly successful victory. (One small detail from that period: Israeli intelligence reported that the Egyptian army was drilling with one-time-use chemical-warfare suits, a strong indicator indeed that chemical warfare would be used, and soon. In a panic, Israel bought over a million gas masks from the only supplier who could provide them in a hurry -- which, ironically, was West Germany.)

It is also frequently forgotten that, for all of Israel's amazing advances in 1967, they came at a terrible cost. As (I believe) Moshe Dayan would later point out, in proportion to population, Israel lost twice as many sons to the 1967 war, in six days, as the United States would in Vietnam over a decade. The 1948 war was worse, with 1% of the entire population of Israel dead. (Can anyone imagine a modern American war with 30 million American deaths?)
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't believe that, once the 1948 war officially started (right after Israel declared independence), there was any point at which it appeared the Arab armies were at the point of prevailing. And definitely not in the 1967 war. There were forebodings about Israel's possible doom before these wars. Whereas for the first couple of days of the 1973 war, there were real fears that the Arab side was on the verge of winning.
46 weeks ago
46 weeks ago Link To Comment
Leper? Does the Israeli leadership waste as much as a single thought on such a concern? The European elites are shot through with Jew hatred. Surely tough minded Israelis are well aware of that and make their calculations accordingly. The American Left is also filled, top to bottom, with Jew haters. Obama is a classic anti-semite. Perhaps Israelis don't see this as clearly because the Left, for the sake of deracinated American Jews' support, muzzles itself, slightly. But they should see it. There is absolutely no chance that Israel will avoid scathing "International Community" denunciation when it makes its strike against Iran. Israel must strike. I pray there are no Israelis in positions of power who will not do what Israel must do, in order to avoid leper status. You can't avoid being a pariah to those who took in Jew hatred with mother's milk.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
So why are we in Israel releasing convicted murderers to appease Obama and Kerry?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Point of information: Israel has no bombers. No B-1, no B-2, no B-52. No B-anything. Israel has fighters and fighter-bombers. F-15, F-16. The IAF can use smart munitions against targets but it cannot fly half-way around the world and drop 100 bombs from a single plane onto a target, like a B-52 can.

Israel's enemies, until recently, were close so it didn't need a long range bomber capability. Having a lot of bombers is also expensive.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gee, I really wanted to go to Woodstock but my CO in Danang didn't think it was important enough to give me leave right then. Seemed to think I had better things to do right at that time.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you for your service. For what it's worth, I was in grade school at the time, and supported you. When I got the left-wing propaganda at school (a very conservative parochial school), my Dad, a Korean-era vet who still considers himself a Liberal Democrat, told me the other side.

As far as I am concerned, the opposition to the war was racist at base, considering that people who did not look like us did not deserve personal freedom.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Two relevant historical lessons for Israel
1) Pre-emption works. Dont worry about alienating the world. They already hate us
2) Saturation bombing works. Tehran, Qom and Isfahan need to be the Dresden and Tokyo of the 21st century.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
3) Your allies (in this case the US) may stab you in the back. Unfortunately, there is little we can do about that; how large an arsenal can we hold?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Holy ones in Israel and USA can not help but desire a release from the waters of Babylon and USA has more room then Israel but I know the holy ones are not interested in being released by the zealots power hungry just a place to pray to the God they believe in

Waters of Babylon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTnspbSjKVc
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
from the waters to the fire then the frying pan
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bottom Line: Sans pre-emptive action against genocidal foes all is lost, before the real battle even begins.

Most ominously, Israel's political and civil society elites truly believe that the nation has to evince sympathy for those gunning for their citizens, as well as their fealty to Washington's dictates. It is as if an apology is always at the ready, just for trying to survive! It is this aberrant, counter intuitive behavior which has brought catastrophe upon the nation.

To be sure, Israel's hard left would like nothing more than for Israel to be subsumed by its Arab neighbors, expecting that they - the 'good' Jews - will survive in the process.

So, the question is not so much whether Israel is a leper or a light unto the nations: But what will it take for Israel's political leadership to evince the qualities of statesmen, accordingly, conduct robust strategic policies based on sound public diplomacy initiatives? - http://www.inquisitr.com/671508/the-inquisitr-interviews-adina-kutnicki-the-reality-of-life-for-an-israeli-patriot/

Besides, for those who detest Israel, nothing short of nation suicide will suffice, regardless of any forthcoming insane gestures/concessions/terror releases. As to being a light unto the nations, well, considering that Israel is a 'Start Up Nation', in the midst of a jungle of barbarians, surely should give the world pause and Israel some pats on the backs. NOT exactly....

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once again Mr. Hornik is in factual error. The Israelis did not launch a pre-emptive strike in 73 out of deference to their American allies, they were caught by surprise as many Israeli military have admitted, including Ariel Sharon. The implication of causation here is clear. By not going pre-emptive due to American concerns, Israeli losses were 4 times as great as in 67. Hogwash. The losses came from the near destruction of 2 Israeli armored brigades, one in a fanatical defence in Golan, the other thrown away in a premature suicidal charge against Soviet Sagger ATMs in Sinai.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
In any case, Nixon/Kissinger (and I campaigned for Nixon in 72 and was willing to serve in VietNam, a noble cause) came close to destroying Israel by withholding resupply until Syria almost occupied Northern Israel. Even then, by the best accounts I have read (and I am something of a collector of opinions on the subject) Nixon basically decided to resupply because Watergate left foreign policy as about the only place he could make a decision.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fanatical defense of the Golan? Fanatical? How about a fanatical defense to hold onto the Golan, the high ground for God's sake, as Syria had almost nothing between it and Tiberius! It was about as "fanatical" as the 400.

If it wasn't for those fanatics, including in one place a few Yeshiva boys in tanks with no shells, the Syrians could have occupied Northern Israel, raping and killing as they went.

IIRC, Israel had a few hours warning and was moving troops before the actual attack.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, wrong reference. I meant "Horatius at the bridge".

If the Syrians had got off the Golan (as it was it was a very close thing), who knows how far they would have got? Holding the high ground is fanatic?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
MZK fanatical has no other connotation than "fanatical" as in DIP, DIE IN PLACE, as in fanatical defence, and by the way, it was "300 Spartans" not four hundred
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The fact that the IDF was surprised tactically and didn't perform to perfection in the beginning of the war doesn't show that Hornik is wrong. The issue really depends on the relevant diplomatic history.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's been established by research that concern about U.S. (particularly Kissinger's) opposition to a preemptive strike was the main factor that deterred the relevant Israeli leaders at the time (Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, against the advice of the chief of staff) from ordering such a preemption. Even the Wikipedia article on the Yom Kippur War makes this quite clear and gives sources. One of the most recent discussions, with sources, here: http://jcpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/V24_3_3.pdf
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kissinger, like many on the Israeli left, supports a second Holocaust. Kissinger told Nixon that the extermination of Soviet Jews would not be an American concern, and perhaps a humanitarian concern. The use of perhaps indicates that Kissinger does not see Jews as human. When it comes to Jews, the position of Eichmann and Kissinger are indistinguishable
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are so full of it. Wikipedia as a reference??? Please. Your "argument" has a hole big enough to drive the Egyptian 10th Army through. So if we [America] weren't in favor of a pre-emptive strike [like Israel ever gave a damn what other countries thought], why no re-inforcements to the 2 brigades in Golan, why no mobilization and re-inforcement to the Bar-Lev line in Sinai? Why? Because the vaunted Israeli intelligence service fell flat on it's butt and as much as you might like to blame America for it, that dog just won't hunt. After the war the entire military intrl senior staff was fired and the service re-organized. Not just for failing to warn of the impending attack, but for failing to notice little things, like the Egyptian army being armed with Sagger anti-tank missles and the 20 kilometer deep SAM belt that blew the hell out of the IAF the first 2 days. Mr. Hornik stick to writing about culture and leave military history to military historians and finally, stop smearing America with bogus BS you source from Wikipedia.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are plenty of examples of Israelis dying because of actions taken to appease the US. Gator1 is really full of it.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"gator1" - Before attacking Mr. Hornik, try reading more closely what he writes. He does not use Wikipedia, but a common source. You, on the other hand, give no sources whatsoever for your assertions.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Right, in his haste Mr. Gator seems to miss the link I gave at the end of my comment. Also, language like "the main factor" (as distinct from "the only factor") is sometimes too subtle for people.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, Mr. Gator, I know you think I'm ungrateful and don't like your country. Oh, well.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
What I notice is that this is an American blog site, and that you have a penchant for trying to slip the knife to America when ever you think you can get away with it. Having checked your first response to my post you did indeed source Wikipedia as authoritive. You want to be a "self-loathing ex-patriot do it on some local {Israeli} web site. As a combat veteran of the American military I find your commentary disgusting, self-serving and despicable: and am reporting them as such.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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