Sometime in the second week of the war we crossed over to the other side of the Suez Canal on these floating bridges. I can still taste in my mouth my sense of elation and exuberance from 40 years ago. I didn’t cross over in a tank but in a VW bus, impounded from some innocent civilian who probably knew he was not getting it back.
We called it “Africa,” short hand for the Egyptian territory we captured across the Suez Canal, after having defeated and circled the invading Egyptian Third Army on our side of the water, in the Sinai. So I’ve been to Africa.
Don’t let anyone tell you we lost the war of Yom Kippur, 5734. Our government lost it, completely, but the last thing it did before completely succumbing to its own, internal chaos, was to unleash the people’s army on the enemy.
I’ve no idea how the Jewish army won. I was there in every step of it, and witnessed with my own eyes our confusion, discombobulation, and total unpreparedness. Yet, somehow, quite possibly because God said so, battalions were formed, tanks took off, bridges rose up above the waters and tens of thousands of enemy soldiers were killed. But at no point did you get the sense that there was any human in charge. It was as if the individual humans had given up and the nation took over.
As I listen to the late Golda Meir blame everyone but herself (I just did what the generals told me to do) for the fiasco that resulted in 2,500 of my generation being killed, I realize once again that this is a beautiful country we have here, with wonderful, generous, brave hearted people and a really stinky political class. We deserve better, honestly.
Maybe if a million of you came over this year, from America, England, Australia, wherever you are, we could make great things happen here.
What a strange ending to what was supposed to be a harmless musing about the formative war of my youth.
Have a joyous, lifting Yom Kippur, see you on the other side!