Could an Egyptian Spy’s Warning Have Averted the Yom Kippur War?

In 1970, Ashraf Marwan—the son-in-law of Gamal Abdel Nasser and the chief aide to Anwar Sadat—telephoned the Israeli embassy in London and offered to provide classified documents as well as his own assessments of Egyptian government thinking. Although the Mossad took him on as a spy, Marwan’s warnings about an imminent war were ignored by Israeli intelligence. In a new biography, Uri Bar-Joseph puts to rest rumors that Marwan was a double agent but is unable to explain the mysterious fall from a fifth-story balcony that ended his life in 2007. Dan Raviv writes in his review:

Throughout 1972 and 1973, Marwan repeatedly cautioned the Israelis that Sadat was absolutely determined to go to war. Because several of Marwan’s warnings proved to be false alarms—he explained this by saying that Sadat frequently changed his mind—some Israeli intelligence officials stopped taking his reports seriously. Instead of preparing for a possible war, the Israelis clung to their theory that the Arabs would never attack because they had no chance of winning.

A climactic moment came on October 5, 1973, at an urgently arranged meeting in London, where Marwan told the head of the Mossad that Egypt and Syria would strike Israel the next day. Israel’s military intelligence chief rejected the report, and with Marwan’s warnings unheeded, Israeli troops were not nearly as ready as they could have been when Egypt attacked—as promised—on Yom Kippur. . . .

According to Bar-Joseph’s highly detailed account, full of names, dates, and locations of meetings that demonstrate his encyclopedic knowledge of the Marwan affair, the spy was doing his best to help Israel. He kept the Israelis fully apprised of Sadat’s evolving thought process: Egypt would attack soon. Then it only might attack. Then Sadat decided not to attack until the Soviets provided more arms. Then he wanted to be sure that Syria would join a two-front surprise offensive.

Israeli analysts were not quite able to keep up with this ever-changing picture.

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Read more at Moment

More about: Anwar Sadat, Gamal Abdel Nasser, History & Ideas, Israeli history, Mossad, Yom Kippur War

 

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas