October 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, a conflict that shaped the modern Middle East. The War was a trauma for Israel and following the oil embargo, a pivotal reordering of the global economic order. The Jewish State came shockingly close to defeat. A panicky cabinet meeting debated the use of nuclear weapons. After the war, Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned in disgrace, and a 9/11-style commission investigated the “debacle.”
But, argues Uri Kaufman, from the perspective of a half century, the War can be seen as a pivotal victory for Israel. After nearly being routed, the Israel Defense Forces clawed its way back to threaten Cairo and Damascus. In the War’s aftermath, both sides had to accept unwelcome truths: Israel could no longer take military superiority for granted — but the Arabs could no longer hope to wipe Israel off the map. A straight line leads from the battlefields of 1973 to the Camp David Accords of 1978 and all the treaties since.