NY Times censors Israel's victory in Yom Kippur War

The 1973 Yom Kippur War comprised two distinct phases.

In the first couple of days of the war, a joint Egyptian-Syrian assault broke through Israeli defenses and chalked up major territorial gains in the Golan in the north and in Sinai in the south.  But from the third day on, Israel regrouped its forces and launched a highly successful counter-attack.  Not only did the IDF regain all lost territory, but it also crossed the Suez Canal, encircled Egypt's Third Army and broke through to the road to Cairo.  In the north, it not only recovered lost territory on the Golan but penetrated deep into Syria proper. By the time of the cease-fire, it was headed toward Damascus.

It was a great Israeli military victory albeit one that came at a huge cost - the loss of more than 2,500 Israeli soldiers.  Strategically, it signaled the futility of pan-Arab existential wars against the young Jewish state.   

But this is not how the New York Times tells the story on the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.  In an article by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner, it focuses entirely on the first phase when Israel's very existence seemed to hang in the balance, ignoring the IDF's remarkable recovery and eventual victory in the second part of the war.  ("40 Years After War, Israel Weighs Remaining Risks" Sept.13)

It's as if the history of World War II consisted only of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor without any mention of who eventually emerged as the victor.

Thus, Kershner dwells on Israel's lack of preparedness and faulty intelligence - the attack "surprised and traumatized" Israel;, "a sense of doom spread through the country, many feared a catastrophe."  Israeli forces "struggled for days to contain, then repel the joint assault."  Israeli troops, of course, did far more than  just"repel" the joint attack by Egypt and Syria.  They thoroughly crushed the enemy.  It took American intervention and pressure on Israel to avert a complete Egyptian and Syrian calamity.

Kershner, however, ignores the full story of the Yom Kippur War.  She is more interested in pursuing her main theme -- that Israel remains beset by "latent questions about the reliability of intelligence assessments and risks of another surprise attack."  One gets the picture:  Israel still in a nervous crouch.

It's a familiar Israeli doom-and-gloom piece in the "news" pages of the New York Times.


Leo Rennert


Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers