When the 1973 war erupted, Nixon and Kissinger stepped in to save Israel’s existence – and Egypt’s face.
Dayan: “You should know this is not going to be a short war. The attrition is serious.”
Meir: “How serious?”
“If our stocks are not speedily replenished, we won’t be left with sufficient arms to defend ourselves.”
Golda, shocked at this apocalyptic prospect from the man who purportedly embodied the Jewish state’s undaunted defiance, gasped, “Are you saying that we’ll ultimately have to surrender to the Syrians and the Egyptians for lack of arms?”
It was as if David had aimed with his sling and missed. The thought of suicide passed through her mind.
“What I’m saying,” said Dayan, “is that if our stocks are not replenished at a fast rate we may well have to pull back to shorter, more defensible lines, particularly in Sinai.”
“Pull back? Retreat?” Golda Meir’s features went ivory white. She looked despairingly at her defense minister, covered her face with trembling fingers.
Reenergized and reequipped, the IDF decisively moved over to the offensive. What had begun three weeks earlier as an ignoble retreat ended in an almost total rout of the Egyptians and the Syrians, and the humiliation of their patron, the Soviet Union. Israeli forces advanced to a mere 40 kilometers from the gates of Damascus, battled their way along the highway to Cairo, smashed two Egyptian armies, surrounded a third and were poised to strike a knockout blow when Nixon and Kissinger put the squeeze on, saying in effect, “OK, Golda! Good job! Enough! Stop! It’s over!”
Exactly as they had envisaged in their cryptic telephone exchange a few weeks earlier, Egypt’s residual forces were rescued from total annihilation and Israel was robbed of a decisive victory. This enabled president Anwar Sadat to declare to his people that he had wiped clean the shame of 1967, and Kissinger was enabled to fly into the region to fine-tune the war’s outcome, using the currency of Israeli concessions to convince Sadat that Washington, not Moscow, was henceforth the arbiter of affairs in the Middle East, and that it paid to be a friend of the United States of America.
The writer served on the personal staff of five prime ministers, including Golda Meir.