Arnan "Sini" Azaryahu

The Avner Cohen Collection

View the full length video interview here.

Arnan “Sini” Azaryahu was a long-time political insider within the Israeli government, where he served as a trusted aide and confidant to Minister Yisrael Galili, a close ally and advisor to Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. In this interview, Sini recounts a tense meeting held in Meir's office during the height of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Meir overruled a request from Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to prepare Israel’s nuclear arsenal for a demonstration blast.


Biography 
 

Arnan “Sini” Azaryahu (26 June 1917–26 November 2008) was an officer in the general staff of the Palmach, a leader in the Kibbutz Hameuchad movement, and later a senior aide and confidant to Minister Yisrael Galili.

Sini was born in 1917 in Haifa to Sarah and Yosef Azaryahu, teachers and Zionists who were among the founders of Tel Aviv. In 1941, Sini was recruited by the Palmach, a Mandate-era Jewish fighting force. He was cultural and education officer just two years later, a position that he held until the Palmach’s dissolution in 1949. Sini also served as Galili’s adjutant officer while he was head of the national headquarters of the Haganah, a Jewish defense organization during the British Mandate that became the backbone of the Israeli Defense Force after independence. He held the same position under General Yigal Allon along the southern front of the War of 1948. After independence, Sini joined the secretariat of the Hakibbutz Hameuchad, a part of the Kibbutz Movement associated with the Achdut Ha’Avodah party. He became an envoy to the United States in this capacity in the late 1950s.

Though Sini was not a member of the narrow group around Prime Minister Ben Gurion that had given birth to the nuclear project, his close relationship with many top Israeli security officials, especially Munya Mardor and Galili, gave him an inside look at some key junctions in Israel’s nuclear history. In 1962 Sini prepared a memo for Galili for the first closed-door Israeli top-level strategic conference on the nuclear program that Ben Gurion conducted. The compromise policy that Ben Gurion ultimately adopted in the wake of that conference may have planted the seeds of Israel’s nuclear opacity policy. Sini also often discussed nuclear issues in meetings with officials, such as his conversations with Munya Mardor, the director of RAFAEL, after the Six-Day War and with Galili before and after the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

After the Likud party gained power in 1977, Sini left his role in the government. Two years later, he founded the Galilee Center in Yad Tabenkin, which focused on security issues. Sini passed away in November 2008. 

Interview Notes

This interview with Arnan Azaryahu (“Sini”) was conducted in January 2008 at his apartment in Kibbutz Yiron, in Israel’s upper Galilee on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Throughout the interview, Sini spoke perfect Hebrew in a deep, melodious voice. The interview took place about ten months prior to Sini’s passing (November 2008), at the age of 92. By that time, Sini looked frail—he had a slightly stooped posture, was heavy, and had difficulty in walking—but his mind and voice were in full command. He was focused, precise, and quick to respond.

The entire interview spans nearly six hours. It covers numerous historical episodes, encounters, and events of which Sini had the privilege to witness from the inside. While Sini was never a policy maker himself, he often found himself witnessing decisions of national significance. He was the trusted aide and confidant to Minister Yisrael Galili, the leader of the Achdut Ha’avoda party, and a close political ally and advisor to three prime ministers—Levi Eshkol (1963–69), Golda Meir (1969–74) and Yitzhak Rabin (during his first term, 1974–77). During the Meir’s era, Galili was privy to the same intelligence and military reports as the prime minister, and Sini read them for Galili, often writing memos on his behalf. Above all, Sini’s interest and knowledge in nuclear affairs made him Galili’s alter ego on these matters. As a result, Sini witnessed some extraordinary moments in Israel’s nuclear history.

None of what Sini told me during that interview was new to me. I had heard it all from him before and sometimes more than once. But since I knew that Sini had never written down those tales—Sini had little patience to put his own memoirs in writing—I felt that his testimony must be saved for the sake of history. When I arrived in Israel in January 2008 and learned that Sini’s physical health had deteriorated, I hired a videographer and rushed to his home in order to preserve his memories. Sini understood my interest and agreed to cooperate. My purpose on that day was simple: to record those extraordinary testimonies that I otherwise feared would be lost forever. I knew that on those nuclear related incidents Sini might have been the last surviving individual who had witnessed that history in its making.[1]

In particular, I was interested in saving Sini’s testimony on two key historical events. Both episodes involve fateful moments in Israel’s nuclear history that have otherwise left almost no trace in the public record, either in documents or in other oral testimonies. This particular 12-minute interview segment concerns one such episode. It involves the story of the small ministerial consultation that took place in Prime Minister Golda Meir’s office on the early afternoon of the second day of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. 7 October was arguably the most difficult day of the war, when Defense Minister Moshe Dayan proposed to the prime minister and her close advisors that Israel begin preparing its nuclear weapons for a demonstration blast. The episode has received passing mention in a few academic works, including my own The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb. Yet the event has never been properly chronicled, and—more significantly—it has never been incorporated into the broader narrative of the 1973 war.[2] The full details of that episode have yet to be told.

This interview is unique in the sense that it is the first public testimony made by a credible and identifiable source regarding the deliberations of the Israeli war cabinet on the nuclear issue during the 1973 war.

The Historical Significance of the Interview

This interview has a great deal of historical significance. It negates and essentially refutes the nearly four-decade old “mythology” alleging that Israel “almost” reached the nuclear brink during the 1973 war. According to this widespread belief, Israel assembled its nuclear weapons and placed them on highest alert during the early phase of the war when some Israeli leaders panicked and feared that Israel was fast approaching a point of existential danger. Moreover, Israel supposedly used the alert as a form of strategic signaling vis-à-vis the United States to force it to provide Israel with a massive amount of military supplies. This mythology, though never backed up by direct evidence, is now considered by many as fundamentally true. 

Time magazine was the first mainstream publication to make these claims. In an April 1976 story, less than three years after the war, Time asserted that Prime Minister Golda Meir ordered the assembly and arming of Israel’s doomsday arsenal, a dozen or so nuclear weapons, in approval of a request made by Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan.[3] In 1991, author Seymour Hersh provided further details and extra drama to that general mythology. In his account, the nuclear issue dominated Golda Meir’s war cabinet meeting on the late morning of October 9. In that meeting, following a briefing by the nation’s nuclear chief Shalheveth Freier, the forum decided “to arm and target the nuclear arsenal” in the event of total collapse”… and “to inform Washington of its unprecedented action,” demanding that Washington initiate an emergency airlift to supply Israel with the arms and ammunition required to continue waging an all-out war effort.” In essence, Hersh describes a situation wherein Israel used its alert as “nuclear blackmail.”[4] Over the years, many other authors have referred to this alleged Israeli 1973 nuclear alert as factual.[5]

Sini’s testimony  questions, even defies, almost all the factual aspects of this common belief. It presents a very different narrative of the nuclear dimension of that war, one of nuclear restraint. It reveals that even during the darkest hours of the 1973 war, when Israel’s hold on the Golan Heights appeared to be slipping away, the Israeli national leadership, and most significantly Prime Minister Golda Meir, did not panic and were not willing to consider even a modest proposal to take action and prepare the nation’s doomsday weapons for a possible demonstration.

Sini’s Testimony: A Close Analysis

Sini’s testimony is important for what it reveals, but it is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive. While both important and dramatic, the interview provides a snapshot of only one particular encounter. We do not know what preceded it or what followed, nor do we know about decisions and activities that took place at other, lower-level but nuclear-relevant junctions. Sini’s testimony leaves us with many open questions.

In the following sections, I try to analyze four aspects of this encounter—the context (general and nuclear), the proposal itself and the human dynamics—with an effort to delineate between the known and the unknown. Inevitably, such a discussion is inherently interpretative and, to some extent, speculative.

  1.  The Meeting’s General Context

Since originally publishing Sini’s testimony, I gained access to the original minutes of the ministerial meeting preceding Sini’s testimony which were formally declassified and released in 2010 by the Israel State Archive. These minutes provide an accurate background for the encounter that Sini described.[6] As expected, the encounter that Sini describes is not included. One can safely surmise that neither Dayan, nor the other ministers would have dared to discuss the nuclear issue while the minutes were being recorded.

The background of the meeting, particularly Dayan’s state of mind, is the key to understanding his nuclear proposal.  On the previous morning, Moshe Dayan, Israel’s “Mr. Security” and hero of the 1967 Six-Day War had been so confident of Israel’s ability to defend itself that he opposed mobilizing the entirety of the nation’s reserve force, despite intelligence reports indicating an imminent Arab military assault. Only a day later, Dayan had been transformed into a different man. After visiting the front lines, Dayan returned to Tel Aviv in the early afternoon as a prophet of doom. In a number of well-documented episodes, Dayan murmured about the demise of the “Third Temple,” a reference to the modern state of Israel. Dayan believed that Israel was fighting for its very survival.

With this state of mind, Dayan entered the conference room at the prime minister’s office, where Meir was anxiously waiting for his assessment of the military situation. According to the official minutes, ten people attended the meeting: Golda Meir, the senior ministers constituting Meir’s war cabinet (Dayan, Allon, and Galili), and six other senior staff and personal aides. Contrary to Sini’s testimony, Chief of Staff General David Elazar was not present when the meeting started; he joined towards the end.  

The meeting began at 2:50 PM as Dayan started with his assessment of the military situation (noting that his assessment agreed with that of General Elazar). Dayan began by asserting that Israel had lost its lines on both frontiers. Furthermore, Dayan stated that Israel could not hold its few isolated posts along the canal and it must cut its losses by retreating to new defensive lines on the Golan and in the Sinai. “Those posts that we can evacuate, we should evacuate; those who we cannot evacuate, they will stay, even surrender. We should tell them: we cannot reach you out; try to break out [to us] or surrender.”

In addition, Dayan made it clear that he believed that Jordan would soon join the battle against Israel. He saw the situation as an all-out war: the invading Arabs forces would not stop. “The fight is over the entire land of Israel.  Even if we withdraw from the Golan Heights, this would not solve anything.”  There were already hundreds of casualties and he expected many more.  He referred to his bleak assessment as “my honest view,” noting that the Northern commander was even more pessimistic than he was. 

The discussion that follows Dayan’s presentation reflects the thickness of the fog of war at that time. Neither Dayan, nor anyone else in the room understood the situation beyond knowing that it was national nightmare. Prime Minister Meir said at one point, “there is no reason why they [the Arabs] would stop . . . they already tasted blood,” and Dayan continued her thought, stating that the arab forces intended “to conquer Israel, to eliminate the Jews.” Minister Allon continued the conversation, stating that “Moshe is right. In this situation there is no other way.”   

When Prime Minister Meir reminded the forum that the full government was about to convene for a formal session in less than in an hour, Ministers Galili and Dayan proposed to postpone the full government meeting to 9 PM. Prime Minister Meir quickly adopted their suggestion and announced that until then they will continue with informal consultation. At that point the formal meeting ends and the forum was adjourned.

At this point (around 4:20PM) the formal meeting adjourns and the minutes end. Chief of Staff Elazar and non-essential staff left the room, leaving the prime minister and her three senior aides. Here we must turn to Sini’s testimony, as Dayan makes his nuclear proposal while standing by the exit door after the minutes were no longer being recorded.

  1. The Nuclear Context

Galili’s first words to Sini after the meeting adjourned, “something like that never happened to me before,” reveal how extraordinary that encounter was—it was unprecedented and remarkable. Never before were Israeli leaders asked to activate the nation’s nuclear weapons for a possible demonstration. Never before had the minister of defense believed that Israel was fast approaching an apocalyptic moment. Never before had the mental state of a leader played such a close role in assessing the rationality of the proposal itself. 

One could assume that Golda Meir, being ex-officio in charge of the nuclear agency, had already been in touch with Shalheveth Freier, her nuclear chief, on key issues requiring her approval or knowledge after the war had broken out the day before. For example, the prime minister must have approved the decision to shut down the country’s nuclear reactors.[7] Additionally, the prime minister had likely received some kind of a status report in written or oral form on the readiness of the nation’s nuclear inventory.[8] But the afternoon of the 7th was likely the first time that Freier was summoned to the war forum with the expectation that he would receive Meir’s approval to Dayan’s request, and would possibly brief the prime minister and her senior consultants on the operational aspects of the proposal.

Sini’s testimony reflects a certain ambiguity and lack of knowledge about the process. While it is clear that the proposal was Dayan’s idea, and that he arranged for Freier’s attendance, many other procedural issues about the meeting remain unclear. What was the exact purpose of Freier’s summoning? Who formally invited Freier to attend the meeting, given the fact that Dayan had returned from the Sinai just minutes earlier? In any case, it is implausible that Dayan could or would have summoned Freier on his own without approval or consultation with Meir.

Furthermore, it remains unclear when and how Meir first learned about Dayan’s nuclear ideas, what her initial reaction to his proposal was, and whether Meir personally asked Freier to attend the meeting.[9] It is also unknown what kind of communication, if any, took place between Freier and Dayan (and/or their respective offices) prior to the meeting.

As Sini suggests, Meir had probably been aware of Dayan’s thinking, perhaps from meeting face to face just prior to the formal meeting. Yet her original reaction to his nuclear proposal is unclear. It seems that she could have approved the proposal on her own authority—it appears as though she had the authority to do so—but she did not want to, and instead left Dayan’s request to the ministerial forum. Was the role of the forum merely consultative, with the ultimate decision lying with the prime minister? Alternatively, one would think that Meir could have endorsed Minister of Defense Dayan’s proposal and presented it as her own request—this would have made a huge difference to the members of the war cabinet—but apparently Meir did not endorse Dayan’s proposal, and left it to him to present it as his own idea. Indeed, it is not clear from the testimony whether Dayan asked only for the prime minister’s approval or whether he actually asked for the forum’s approval.

Furthermore, we know almost nothing about how the Israeli nuclear command and control system worked in 1973, if indeed Israel had any rigid formal procedures. It is unclear to what extent decision-making on the nuclear question was covered by well-defined procedures that articulated the division of labor and authority among the prime minister, the minister of defense and the cabinet. Sini does make a brief reference in his testimony to a “double key system,” a command and control system requiring approval from both the minister of defense and the prime minister in order to activate nuclear weapons. In any case, we have neither factual nor procedural clarity on any of these issues. 

  1.  Assessing Dayan’s Proposal

There are also many nagging questions—big and small—involving the specifics of Dayan’s proposal and its underlying technical and strategic context. Analytically, one could divide those questions into two groups: first, the specifics of Dayan’s proposal: what exactly he proposed to do; and second, the state of Israel’s actual nuclear capabilities, that is, the capabilities required to make Dayan’s proposal feasible.  

On the former subject, all that we know from Sini’s testimony is that Dayan proposed that Meir would order Shalheveth Freier, the nation’s nuclear chief, to initiate “preparations” towards a “nuclear demonstration”—explicitly a demonstration, not a use against any targets—to save precious time (“half a day”) should the need become imminent and necessary. Beyond this, we know nothing; all else is mere speculation. 

Still, it is interesting to consider what a “nuclear demonstration” might have involved and whether the suggested timeframe of 6–12 hours was realistic. Israel was presumably capable of conducting an underground detonation of a weapon with a yield on the order of Hiroshima or Nagasaki (~20kt). However, even with a pre-drilled testing facility, the setup time required would have probably exceeded the half-day timeframe, without even considering the political uncertainties involved in conducting an underground test in time of war. Moreover, even if an underground demonstration could have been carried out, there would be serious doubts about its effectiveness on the Egyptian and Syrian governments and little to no indication that it would have applied sufficient pressure to cause a cessation of hostilities. Such a demonstration makes very little strategic, logistic or political sense. 

A far more effective demonstration within Israel’s technical capabilities and the suggested timeframe would have been one or more high altitude bursts over unpopulated areas of Syria, Egypt or both. Such blasts would be conducted at a time (probably shortly after dark) to make the demonstration visible in the capital cities of Cairo and Damascus, thereby avoiding any debates that might have been associated with an underground demonstration and ensuring extreme public pressure on the Syrian and Egyptian governments.

Furthermore, it is highly likely that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) had a small group of pilots pre-trained on nuclear missions in French Mirage aircraft (used to avoid conflict with the commitment Israel had given that its US-supplied aircraft were not to be used for nuclear weapons missions) and the necessary adaption kits for nuclear payloads ready to install very quickly. The IAF presumably would have been able to rapidly move weapons, configure the Mirage aircraft for nuclear strike missions, assemble pilots pre-qualified for nuclear missions, organize escorts, and brief and launch such demonstration missions within 6 to 12 hours.[10]

Given the situation, one can safely suggest that Dayan’s idea was probably to prepare logistically and organizationally for a high altitude aerial burst over a desolate area. It would require the IAF and the Israel Atomic Energy Commission working closely with one another to assemble a handful of weapons for the demonstration. Presumably, all those issues should have been explained to the forum in Freier’s briefing, but that presentation was never authorized, and was consequently never delivered. Dayan’s proposal was killed before it even had a chance to be discussed. 

In the final analysis, Dayan’s nuclear idea was a declaration of despair. Had Israel conducted a nuclear demonstration in the middle of the war, would it have been understood by all as an anguished decision of last resort? Although it could be argued that such a demonstration strategy might have forced Egypt and Syria to pause hostilities, Israel would have been seen as weak and effectively defeated by resorting to the use of nuclear weapons. Would it have been in the Israeli interest to convey such message? Could a military situation be envisioned where such a move would make sense?  Furthermore, such a demonstration would have unleashed an immediate nuclear arms race in the region, in addition to the inevitable near term international condemnation and demands for Israeli disarmament.

While we do not know what exactly triggered Dayan’s nuclear proposal or how much time and thought he put into it, we do know that Dayan was in a state of acute shock by the afternoon of the second day of the war; some even describe it as near breakdown.[11] It is evident that his nuclear proposal reflects a gloom and doom state of mind.

  1.  The Human Drama

Sini described the encounter in a calm, semi-factual tone, but the meeting was surely full of drama. Some of the tension surrounded the extraordinary and unprecedented nature of the situation itself. But the drama also had a strong human dimension: there was a great deal of bad blood within the group—rivalries, lack of trust, even contempt. While two of the principals were close allies—Meir and Galili—the other two principals, Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon and Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, had been archrivals for decades. The nuclear issue further fueled their rivalry. Since Galili shared much of Allon’s resentment towards Dayan, and Meir had never been close to Dayan to begin with, the forum was unfriendly to Dayan’s nuclear ideas.   

As suggested earlier, it is likely that Dayan may have had earlier communication with the prime minister about his request. If so inclined, Meir could have quietly approved the request without bringing it to the attention of the larger forum, on the grounds that the request was technical—only to prepare the nuclear weapons, not an order to detonate them. Alternatively, she could have presented the request as a joint proposal—developed by both the prime minister and the minister of defense—but it appears that she kept her distance and allowed Dayan to introduce the idea on his own. She chose to involve herself only to the extent that she knew about his plan ahead of time. That may indicate that she already questioned the judgment of Dayan in assessing the war situation. In any case, Dayan had to make his formal request to the ministerial forum on his own.

Dayan’s modus operandi reflects an attempt to present his request in the least controversial manner. He brought up the suggestion at the end of the meeting, after Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff David Elazar left the room and minutes were no longer being taken.[12][13] The proposal was presented as a technical matter, a request to take precautionary steps just in case—not as a request to take military action. As Sini points out in his testimony, Dayan made deliberate efforts, in both speech and in form, to trivialize and belittle his request.

Not only did Dayan fail to secure the approval of his request, he generated and reinforced the opposite response—total rejection. Allon and Galili viewed Dayan’s incredible suggestion at the end of the meeting as panicky and deceptive. It demonstrated that Dayan had lost his ability to make sound judgments as a sober military chief and the cabinet saw his proposal as the irrational product of overwhelming panic. Furthermore, the manner in which Dayan presented his proposal to the forum—casually leaning against the exit door and treating his request to assemble nuclear weapons as a simple precautionary step—was seen by Galili, Allon, and probably Golda Meir as well, as evidence that the minister of defense had lost his touch and had become a danger. When they flared up with their absolute opposition to Dayan’s proposal, they made sure that Meir would instruct him to “forget about it.” Galili made special efforts to ensure that the prime minister’s senior military aide, General Lior, would tell nuclear chief Shalheveth Freier to discard Dayan’s proposal.

Final Thoughts

It is important to recognize that Sini’s testimony, released for the first time on the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, is so far the only direct and credible Israeli eyewitness testimony on the nuclear dimension of that war.

One primary reason for the general obscurity of the subject is Israel’s code of silence on all nuclear matters. Given the culture of secrecy and the institutional censorship in Israel on all nuclear issues, it is not surprising that the nuclear dimension of the war has remained undocumented.

Sini’s testimony is novel. It contradicts, if not flatly refutes, the narrative of Seymour Hersh’s 1991 book, The Samson Option, and instead offers a much more nuanced and restrained story. It acknowledges that the 1973 war had a nuclear dimension, but that dimension was much more minor and contained than previously believed. Even a “just in case” preparatory proposal was ultimately ruled out by Prime Minister Meir and her trusted political advisors. Dayan’s nuclear proposal went nowhere. 

Sini’s testimony reveals that the Israeli leadership, with the notable exception of Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, recognized the danger of the nuclear brink during the1973 war and refused to approach it. In that meeting, Israel discovered its own commitment to the nuclear taboo. 

Read the interview transcript on the Digital Archive MORE 




[1] Many people who knew Sini well realized that he held a treasure trove of historical tales in his mind and that they must be somehow preserved. Ultimately, Ora Armoni interviewed Sini about his life and based on those conversations she wrote Sini’s biography. The book was published in 2008 shortly before he died. [See, Ora Armony, "Haver v'ish sod: Sichot im Sini" ("Friend and Confidant: Conversations with Sini"), Hakibbutz Hameuchad and Yad Tabenkin, 254 pp, 2008] However, in those interviews Sini did not feel comfortable elaborating on those sensitive episodes in Israel’s nuclear history. Those issues remain unexplored.

[2] Avner Cohen, The Worst Told Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), xxii, xxxiii, 40, 49-50, 80-81, 177; Yair Evron, Israel’s Nuclear Dilemma (Great Britain: Cornell University Press, 1994), 71-72. 

[3] “Violent Week: The Politics of Death,” Time, April 12, 1976.

[4] Seymour M. Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy (New York: Random House, 1991), 225-240.

[5] Richard Sale, “Yom Kippur: Israel’s 1973 Nuclear Alert,” UPI.com, September 16, 2002, available at http://www.upi.com/Business_News/SecurityIndustry/2002/09/16/Yom-Kippur-Israels-1973-nuclear-alert/UPI-64941032228992/; Walter Boyne, The Two O’Clock War: The 1973 Yom Kippur Conflict and the Airlift That Saved Israel (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2002); Howard Blum, Eve of Destruction: The Untold Story of the Yom Kippur War (New York: Harper Collins, 2003), 227-229.

[6] “Discussion at the Prime Minister Office on October 7, 1973, 2:50 PM” Minutes written by Eli Mizrachi.http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/118204

[7] In a conversation with the author, Israeli military scientist and former politician Yuval Ne’eman suggested that shutting down nuclear reactors would be a standard procedure during war-time. Ne’eman discussed this and other issues related to Israel’s nuclear weapons and infrastructure during the 1973 War in Michael O. Wheeler and Kemper V. Gay, eds., Nuclear Weapons and the 1973 Middle East War, Center for National Security Negotiations Occasional Paper, August 1996. 

[8] Ibid. p. 5; Elbridge Colby, Avner Cohen, William McCants, and Bradley Morris, “The Israeli “Nuclear Alert” of 1973: Deterrence and Signaling in Crisis”, CNA Analysis and Solutions, April 2013, available at http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/research/DRM-2013-U-004480-Final.pdf, p. 2.

[9] For the minister of defense to invite the nuclear chief on his own would be against established protocol where the prime minister is the final authority on nuclear matters and the nuclear chief is a direct subordinate to the prime minister. Additionally, it would not fit the authority relationship established between Meir as the prime minister and Dayan as her minister of defense: Dayan may have disagreed with Meir, but he always respected her final authority as the prime minister (as this encounter demonstrates). From Freier’s perspective, it is also implausible that he would have come to the consultation on Dayan’s orders without being invited or at least cleared by the prime minister’s military aide, General Yisrael Lior.  

[10] I am greatly indebted to my colleague and friend Dr. George Moore who has some practical experience in these matters and who was kind enough to brainstorm with me on these issues. Much of what is written in this section is based on that brainstorming when we both tried to respond to the challenge of making sense of Dayan’s proposal based on limited factual information and more logical conjectures. I must note that I have heard second hand rumors that some of those joint activities on the ground were actually executed, some rumors even suggest that bombs were rushed to the aircrafts, but I remain agnostic to the veracity of those claims.

[11] Amir Oren, “Yom Kippur War documents darken Dayan's image,” Haaretz, October 5, 2010, available at http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/yom-kippur-war-documents-darken-dayan-s-image-1.317213; In a television interview, Naphtali Lavie—Dayan’s spokesman at the time of the 1973 War—recalled a conversation with Dayan during the darkest hours of the war. After a failed attempt by Israeli forces to cross the Suez Canal, Dayan was alleged to have said, “there will probably be no choice but to use the most painful means in order to stop [the Arab forces].” Part of the interview is available here: http://youtu.be/rax-YKer-qE?t=8m18s. The interview begins at 8:18.  

[12] Sini pointed out that a prime reason why Dayan raised the issue after the chief of staff, General David Elazar, left the meeting was that he knew that Elazar would oppose the proposal.

[13] Lt. General David “Dado” Elazar served as Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces from 1972-1974. Elazar resigned after an official government report blamed him for the military’s unpreparedness at the outset of the 1973 War. 

 

 

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