WHEN Denis Michael Rohan, an Australian citizen, set fire to the pulpit of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Aug 21, 1969; the then Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir wrote in her autobiography, “… I hadn’t slept all night, expecting that the Arabs would be coming from all over towards Israel. When the sun rose, I knew full well that we are facing a sleeping nation.”
Tel Aviv considered this crime, which is still fresh in the minds of Arabs and Muslims, a green light to continue vandalism against Arabs, but this did not last for long. Just four years after the Al-Aqsa Mosque incident, Israel met the legend of its fall due to strikes by the Egyptian and Syrian soldiers during the October War. Meir wrote about the war in her autobiography entitled, “My Life,” where she narrated the state of shock and how her intelligence failed – the same intelligence agency described to have the ability to reach anywhere.
She wrote how the Arabs exceeded them in number – whether in weapons, tanks, planes or men. She indicated that they endured deep depression which was not only from shock over how the war started, but due to the reality of Israel and its main assessment which proved to be wrong. “The possibility of it happening in October was minimal. We were certain that we will be given ample warning time before the first strike, let alone their belief in their ability to prevent Egyptians from crossing the Suez Canal,” she said.
Today, as Arabs celebrate the October War victory which changed balance in the region, they should also look at the failures which led them to lose their gains in that war. Former Egyptian President Anwar Saddat realized from the start of the war that regaining the captured territory would be through two lines.
The first line is through war and undermining the strength of the enemy; and second is through negotiation to absorb American ‘impartiality’ in favor of Israel and prevent it from working against the Arab demands.
The October War had been a major surprise since its first spark. Part of it was a response to Golda Meir’s certainty that this was a sleeping nation and its appearance of being asleep does not mean slumber; instead it meant there was something cooking behind the curtains which had a deep impact on expectations and dependence on Israeli arrogance.
Indeed, Egypt regained Sinai and Suez Canal. It then completed the war through negotiation and Syria regained part of Golan. After that, it was possible to regain the entire Gaza Strip and West Bank. The idiocy of Palestinian leaders in dealing with their issue made them unable to regain full control of those two cities.
Their lack of ability to read the reality after the October War as the game changer impeded them from progressing in their course, in addition to entrenching themselves behind accusations of mercenary and treachery for anyone who strives to solve the issue on the basis of fair demands. All these made them unable to grasp that historic opportunity which appeared later when they engaged in civil wars with some Arab countries – against people and soldiers of these countries.
Palestinian leaders are used to investing in their case and using it to blackmail the Arab countries; up to the extent that some of them work for Israel, Iran and other countries which made Palestine the arena for settling scores through the guns of its people until it reached its current condition. In other words, they lost their country and their rights. They settled for slogans and what are known as hotels and media wars by working with hired guns. This is the lesson which the Arabs, especially Palestinians, were supposed to learn from the October War in order to avoid reaching the point where Arab blood becomes mere ink on bargaining papers; but the question is, who is there to listen?
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times