by Emanuel A. Winston, Middle East Analyst & Commentator
I have been listening to main news channels eulogizing General Alexander Haig, who died today at age 85 and his considerable exploits throughout his life. For me there was something missing which should have been there. I did not hear from them about how and when General Haig saved Israel.
In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, Israel was the target of a secretly planned attack by Egypt and Syria – among other nations in the region. American intelligence knew definitely that the War was imminent but didn’t tell Israel until 2 hours before the surprise attack began – when they knew Israel needed a minimum of 16 hours to mobilize her civilian army.
Nixon and Kissinger threatened Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir not to pre-empt or to mobilize – or else America would not re-supply Israel if the coming war lasted longer than the miraculous Six Days War, and Israel would have to go it alone.
Israel was also not adequately prepared internally because those who planned Israel’s defense had become imbued with what became known as the “conceptzia”. That conception was that none of those countries mentioned above would dare attack Israel, given the losses they incurred in prior wars.
The “planners” and Intel agencies that believed in the “conceptzia” were wrong!
The sneak attack of October 6, 1973 was on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. The surprise attack was effective.
Israel had to use a Russian technique of raining down artillery shells on advancing Egyptian armor in the South and Syria in the North.
Within a week Israel began to run low on all weapons’ systems and munitions. They pleaded with President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for urgent re-supply but, it was very slow in coming. I recall a report quoting or paraphrasing Henry (Heinrich) Kissinger saying: “Let them (the Israelis) bleed a bit, ”.
But, there was one man who didn’t agree with that foot-dragging and forcing the Jews of Israel to “bleed a bit”. General Alexander Haig, President Nixon’s Chief of Staff, began to open munition stores at American bases in America and in Germany. Out came pallets of artillery shells, TOW missiles and more which were loaded on Galaxy cargo aircraft. Those Galaxies headed toward Israel. As I recall, I had just landed at Ben Gurion Airport at about the time the Galaxies landed and were being unloaded at a fast pace.
John Loftus, the author of “Secret War Against The Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People 1920-1992” was a first hand eye-witness on October 6th when Richard Nixon’s chief of staff Gen. Alexander Haig ordered the Infantry Officer Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia to train 40 Israeli commanders to use the TOW (tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided) missile system. Then Loftus briefed the Israelis on the TOW capabilities. The “kill ratio” for the TOW was 97%. Al Haig stripped every TOW missile on the eastern seaboard of America and from Germany and shipped them to Israel. They loaded every TOW in stock on planes. The Israeli commanders were back in Israel by October 14, just in time to repulse a massive Egyptian armored attack in the Sinai with the TOWs. It was the turning point of the war. Haig had saved Henry Kissinger’s reputation by giving Israel the TOWs. (2)
Skipping a few things and days, I found myself in the Sinai Desert, meeting with then General Ariel (Arik) Sharon in what he called: “the killing fields”: burned tanks and army trucks dotted the landscape as if they were placed neatly on a giant chess board – with bodies scattered in the sand. Once you smell a dead body, cooking in the sun, you never forget.
If not for General Haig’s re-supply of weapons and Israel’s extraordinarily brave fighters, that scene could have been repeated all the way to Tel Aviv.
While the U.S. and European news neglected to tell that story on the evening news, nevertheless, it should have been on all the Israeli media. General Alexander Haig, should be eulogized in Israel, with special memorials to a great man who saved Israel – one in the South and one on the Golan Heights.
Hopefully, Israel’s current Prime Minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has the sensibility to tell the Haig story about a righteous Gentile who was a true friend of the Jewish State at what was a strategically perilous time in 1973.
We do need that same kind of hero today in Israel and for Israel.
G-d speed dear friend, and may your name be remembered for a blessing.