NSWJBD-Honest Reporting Advocacy Mission – Day 6
Twenty people – mostly members of Sydney’s Jewish community, plus a number of West Australians and Americans - are currently participating in the inaugural NSW Jewish Board of Deputies-HonestReporting Advocacy Mission in Israel – Day Six from Yvonne Selecki.
On an achingly beautiful winter’s day we headed north from Jerusalem. Overhead was clear blue sky and all was quiet, no need for an “Iron Dome”.
Our guide for the day was Elliott Chodoff, who described himself as, “the cruellest sociologist in the world”. Originally a New Yorker, he migrated to Israel at the age of 27 and belies what he calls “the soft feely nature of sociology” to work as a military analyst for the Israeli army. We would be viewing the spectacular scenery of rural while listening to an understanding of its price and importance in terms of warfare.
After travelling up the magnificent Jordan Valley, we reached one of the northern-most points of Israel. At the memorial for the 77th battalion you could see over green valleys to Syrian towns and the Golan Heights. There were two abandoned damaged tanks, one Syrian and one Israeli, lying in the field but it was still hard to imagine the peaceful scene with tank battalions, artillery fire and aircraft. Then we noticed a large pillar of smoke arise from the Syrian town only a few kilometres away. Something large, possibly a building, had been blown up and the Syrian civil war was just too close. You never know when you are going to wish for that “Iron Dome”.
Elliott talked about the battle that had occurred there in the 1973 Yom Kippur War when Syria made what he described as two main mistakes. They reasoned that Israeli’s would not be ready for war on a High Holiday. It turned out that mobilization was actually easier when the roads were empty.
The other mistake was relying on high tech, the infra-red lights of their tanks that let them see in the dark. The Syrians attacked on the wrong night, when there was light from the moon. One could see tanks but couldn’t identify them. The Israelis tanks got into firing positions and stopped their engines. They knew the only tanks moving were Syrian. On a dark night the Syrians would have had the advantage. Israel won that battle but not without terrible losses.
I don’t know where else you could get a lesson in military strategy while also viewing the geography first hand. The contrast between the view of calm green valleys with the knowledge of the price paid in blood for it all leaves a lingering sadness. As Elliott said, “G-d made 50 year old malt whiskey for a reason”.
After a wonderful dinner in Tiberias we headed back to Jerusalem after a long and incredible day.
Yvonne Selecki is a participant on the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies-HonestReporting Advocacy Mission.