Been rereading two inspiring autobiographies: The first, called "Story of a Soldier" is by Raphael Eytan (Raful) z"l, who was the chief of staff of the IDF during the 1982 Lebanese war, and head of Northern command during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Egypt and Syria invaded Israel in a massive surprise attack, and were only repulsed after enormous Israeli losses.
The other is by Yitzchak Rabin, z"l, and is called simply "service book". It was published in 1979 by Maariv, and
chronicles his early life, military service, and transition into
politics. I found his description of the tense period before the six day
war of 1967 particularly revealing, in particular his own loneliness
and anxiety as the burden of responsibility to make the decisions that
would save Israel rested largely on his shoulders. ( At that time he was
Chief of Staff of the IDF.) At that time Egypt was amassing huge forces
in the Sinai along Israel's border, and Syria was doing the same in the
North, in the Golan heights. There was a real possibility that the
Soviet Union, which had been equipping and training both the Syrian and
Egyptian armies, would get involved in the attacks on Israel.
found itself alone and isolated on the international stage. Because of
in fighting between supporters of Levi Eshkol (the Prime Minister) and
David Ben Gurion (ex prime minister) the political echelons were not
fully functioning, which increased the burden on Rabin. When Egypt
closed the straights of Tiran, thus preventing fuel and other supplies
from reaching Israel, it was clear Israel would have to act. But first
the goverment decided to send Abba Eban (foreign minister) to London,
Paris and to Washington to meet with Lyndon Johnson, to see if an
American guarantee to open the straights could be obtained, and a
promise to intervene should Egypt and Syria invade Israel. This meant
delaying a preemptive military strike - and Rabin was well aware that
with every passing day the Egyptian forces were more of a threat. On May
25 1967 Rabin collapsed - partly as a result of exhaustion, partly from
extreme anxiety, partly from nicotine poisoning...he had chain smoked
his way through the endless meetings with the security cabinet and
chiefs of staff.
To be continued....