Tonight the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur starts. For the Jews it is a time for introspection, reflection and repentance. However, during the Yom Kippur of 1973 the soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were not afforded the luxury of observing the holiday. They were fighting to prevent the destruction of Israel as both the Syrian and Egyptian military broke through Israel’s defensive lines in the Golan Heights in the North and the Sinai in the south.

History Channel photo
History Channel photo

The Egyptians and Syrians strategically planned to attack Israel because of the holiness of Yom Kippur, correctly predicting that it would catch the IDF by surprise. Many bloody battles took place in the Golan Heights, because the northern point was vital to Israel’s security as the elevation would have provided the enemy with a strategic advantage.

The Yom Kippur war has become a large part of Israel’s cultural history and has been discussed in films like Oz 77, which tells the story of how the IDF defended Israel against the Syrian attackers. This war made Yom Kippur in Israel not only a day of self-reflection, but a day of national reflection and national mourning.

In order to fight this war, soldiers put aside their religious obligation and defend their homeland. In this war 2,688 soldiers perished in defense of their people and their land. Their sacrifice and hard work allowed Israel to stay safe.

Many of Israel’s critics today talk about Israel as a combination of its military choices, and often denounce the state for having a strong military and strong borders. They quickly forget how vulnerable Israel was 42 years ago and the necessity of its military in order to defend the country against an onslaught of hostile enemies who wanted to do anything but make peace.

This was contributed by former American University CAMERA Fellow, Rachel Wolf.

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