1973 – Yom Kippur War

By Amos Schonfield (Mazkir 5775-6, Israel Tour Madrich 2013)

On Yom Kippur, the Arab and Syrian armies launched an offensive against Israel that was largely seen as a surprise. Israeli intelligence misjudged the timing of the war, and only began calling up reservists at the last minute. Prime Minister Golda Meir refused to launch a pre-emptive strike so as to not to be seen as being the cause of the war. With Israel on the back foot, the United States sought to intervene in support of Israel, providing aid and supplies. In retaliation to the support of the US and others, Arab states instituted an oil embargo, causing the price of oil to quadruple in the US, Canada, UK and elsewhere.
Israel’s position was initially weak, but within two and a half weeks, Israel had fought back and recovered its position. On 25th October, a cease fire was signed. This war was largely seen as stalemate, and the turning point at which Israel no longer felt invulnerable.
On 31st December, Israel held its 8th Legislative Election. Golda Meir managed to win for the Alignment, but the second placed party was the newly-formed Likud, a party led by Menachem Begin and made up of a group right wing and liberal parties. Although it came second in 1973, it would grow to dominate Israeli politics to this day.
Although we may not have known at the time, 1973 was, in more ways than one, a year that changed Israel.