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December 03, 1976 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1976-12-03

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64 Friday, December 3, 1976


Moshe Dayan's 'My Life': No Acceptance of Blame

By Daniel Silverfarb

Students of Israeli his-
tory and politics have
awaited the publication
of Moshe Dayan's
memoirs ("Moshe Dayan:
Story of My Life" pub-
lished by William
Morrow) with considera-
ble interest. Dayan has
occupied key positions in
the army or in the gov-
ernment of Israel almost
continuously from the
creation of the state in
May, 1948 to his final de-
parture from the cabinet
under public pressure in
June 1974.
Dayan led a commando
battalion during the War
of Independence in 1948,
and he also served as mil-
itary commander in
Jerusalem. He was army
chief of staff during the
Sinai Campaign in 1956,
and he sat in the cabinet
as defense minister dur-
ing both the Six-Day War
in 1967 and the Yom Kip-
pur War in 1973.
Dayan received much
credit for Israel's great
victories in 1956 and 1967,
but inevitably he was
shouldered with much of
the blame for the serious
losses suffered by the Is-
raeli army in the opening
stages of the Yom Kippur
Ultimately, he was dri-



yen from office because of
these setbacks, and at the
moment his political
career in Israel looks very
Dayan's memoirs pro-
vide a valuable inside
look at many key aspects
of recent Israeli history.
Especially interesting is
Dayan's account of the
negotiations which he
conducted at the end of
1948 with the Jordanian
commander of the Arab
part of Jerusalem, Ab-
dulla el-Tel.
El-Tel proposed on be-
half of King Abdulla that
Jordan return the oc-
cupied Jewish Quarter in
the old city of Jerusalem
to Israel in exchange for
the Arab Katamon Quar-
ter in the new city.
Dayan does not indi-
cate whether this propo-
sal would have involved
Israeli access to the Wail-
ing Wall, though this
seems quite possible in
view of its proximity to
the Jewish Quarter.
Unfortunately these
negotiations, which
might have resulted in an
enduring and reasonably
equitable solution of the
Jerusalem problem, came
to nought because Prime
Minister David Ben-
Gurion was not willing to
yield the Katamon Quar-
ter. The negotiations
failed also because Ben-
Gurion was opposed to a
partial arrangement and
instead held out for a full
peace treaty between Is-
rael and Jordan which,
however desirable in
theory, was probably not
obtainable in practice at
that time or indeed at any
time since.
Another revealing sec-
tion of this volume is
Dayan's very detailed ac-
count of the preparations
for the Sinai Campaign in
1956. Dayan .points out
that Ben-Gurion was ex-
tremely reluctant to
agree to the operation,
because he feared heavy
casualties in the army
and also among civilians
from Egyptian air at-
tacks on Israeli cities.
Furthermore, Ben-
Gurion did not like the
fact that Israel would
have to commit the initial
act of war and then fight
Egypt alone for two days
before Britain and
France joined the cam-
Ultimately, it was
Dayan who persuaded
Ben-Gurion that it would
be folly to pass up this op-
portunity to fight Egypt
in alliance with the Euro-
pean powers. Dayan ar-
gued that if Israel did not
go to war now together
with Britain and France,
she would soon have to
fight Egypt alone and
unaided under much less
favorable circumstances.
Even when Dayan dis-
agreed with Ben-Gurion,
he always viewed the
prime minister with great
respect and admiration.
Dayan believes that
Ben-Gurion ranked far
above Israel's other polit-
ical leaders because of his
outstanding leadership
abilities and his long
range vision.

A Note About the Reviewer

Dr. Silverfarb, the reviewer of the Moshe Dayan autobiog-
raphy, held assistant professorial posts at Mercy College in
Detroit and Milton College in Madison, Wis., where he now
makes his home. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Silverfarb of
Southfield. He earned his BA at the University of Michigan, his
MA at Wayne State University and his PhD at the University of
Wisconsin. He specialized in preparation for his Doctorate in
Modern European History and he did more than a year's re-
search in London, England in Middle East history. He visited
Israel several times, pursuing his research on the Middle East.

Dayan is much more
critical of Levi Eshkol,
Ben-Gurion's successor
as prime minister, espe-
cially for his failure to act
firmly and decisively in
1967 when President
Gamal Nasser blockaded
the straits of Tiran and
sent a large Egyptian
army into Sinai.
Dayan advocated an

immediate military re-
sponse, but Eshkol
equivocated for several
weeks in a futile endeavor
to resolve the crisis with-
out war while the Egyp-
tians used this period to
strengthen their position
in Sinai.
Dayan was not as close
to Golda Meir as he was to
Ben-Gurion. However,

Dayan and Rabin in 1967

Dayan has high regard
for Golda Meir and his re-
lations with her were
straightforward and di-
rect during the five years
which he served in her
There was not a trace of
the bitterness or devi-
ousness which one might
have expected in the rela-
tionship between two who
had been bitter political
enemies before Dayan
became defense minister
in 1967.
Dayan's account of the
Yom Kippur War is not as
satisfying as other sec-
tions of the book, perhaps
few hours before
because in this instance
the success of his policies Syrian assault. Egyptian-
was less evident.
If, as seems likely. _
Dayan stubbornly re- Dayan does not return to
fuses to accept any blame a position of responsibil-
for the bitter defeat and ity in Israeli politics, it
heavy casualties suffered will be in no small meas.
by the Israeli army in the
opening stages of that ure because he obsti-
conflict. He maintains nately refused in the face
that the responsibility for of considerable evidence
these setbacks rests sol- in 1973 to challenge his
ely with the military own pre-conceived notion
leadership of the country that the existing balance
of power was sufficient to
at that time.
While this contention deter the Arab nations
may be true in a strictly from attacking Israel.
However, what is most
technical or legal sense,
most observers find it dif- disconcerting is not Day-
ficult to understand how an's error in this matter
but rather the fact that
the defense minister even
now he appears un-
could bear no responsibil- able or
unwilling to admit
ity for the condition of the error and
engage in any
army and its unfavorable form of self-criticism.
deployment at the outset
While a healthy degree
of the conflict.
In the period immedi- of confidence in one's own
ately prior to the Yom judgment is certainly a
Kippur War Dayan was so desirable characteristic
completely convinced in political leaders, an ex-
that the Arabs would not cessive amount of self-
attack that he refused to righteousness bordering .
order full mobilization of on conceit is a fault which
the reserve forces, even at times can have very se-
on the morning of Oct. 6 rious consequences.

Biography of Hitler Admirer Raises Furor


(Copyright 1976, JTA, Inc.)
LONDON — A literary

furor has broken out
here over a biography of
Unity Mitford, a glamor-
ous member of a British
aristocratic family who
was one of Hitler's most
ardent admirers. After
failing to suppress the
book, which brings out
the late Miss Mitford's
hatred of Jews, members
and friends of her family
launched bitter personal
attacks on its author,
David Pryce-Jones, and
its Jewish publisher, Lord
Weidenfeld. (Pryce-Jones
is half-Jewish.)
Leading the assault is
one of Unity Mitford's sis-
ters, Lady Diana Mosley,
wife of Sir Oswald Mosley,
former head of the
_ ritish Union of Fascists.
The emotion of Lady
Mosley and her relatives
is partly attributable to
the manner of Unity's
death — she shot herself
in Munich on the day
Britain declared war on
Germany in 1939. Her
suicide attempt failed
and • she lived on until
three years after the war
before dying of her
wounds at the age of 34.
Pryce-Jones told the
Jewish Telegraphic
Agency that he could not
remember a "more dis-
gusting" wave of abuse

against an author than that
which he had encountered
over the Mitford book.
Asked why he thought
Lady Mosley and others
had tried to suppress it he
answered simply: "Guilt."
Anti-Semitism has
been fairly prevalent
among the British upper
classes before the war in
as much as they felt
under threat and it was
preferable to back Hitler
rather than Stalin. If that
meant getting rid of the
Jews, it was too bad but
with people like Unity
Mitford, destroying the
Jews was a positive ad-
vantage, Pryce-Jones
His book recalls that
she wrote to Julius
Streicher's "Der Stuer-
mer," "I hate all Jews. I
want everybody to know I
am a Jew-hater." On the
outcome of the German
take-over of Austria, a
number of Jews were
forced to drift down the
Danube without food or
money for weeks. Unity
Mitford's comment was:
"That's the way to treat
them. I wish we could do
that in England to our
But her sister, Lady
Mosley, replies that such
statements before the
war broke out were on a
par with harmless asser-
tions like "I loathe

Americans" or "the only
good German is a dead
German." Even so, she
goes on to protest that
Unity's anti-Semitism
was "completely differ-
ent" from the attitude of
Mosley and herself.
"Racialism was out of the
question for someone in
British politics at a time
when Britain was ad-
ministering a vast multi-
racial empire," she as-
It is left to another re-
viewer of the biography
to point out the close per-
sonal links of Lady
Mosley and her husband
with the Nazi leadership.
Indeed, it was the wife of
Goebbels who helped to
arrange her secret mar-
riage to Mosley in Ger-
maIly in 1936. She was
later interned in June
1940 under the British
Emergency Defense
Regulations and, like
Mosley, not released until
late in 1943.
The attack on Lord
Weidenfeld is also made
in the review columns of a
weekly magazine. Its au-
thor is Lord Lambton, a
high-born Conservative
peer, who quit Edward
Heath's government
nearly five years ago
after scandalous revela-
tions about his private
life. He had been one of

those who tried to have
the book altered or sup-
Reviewing it in the Spec-
tator, Lord Lambton ac-
cuses Lord Weidenfeld of
"a shocking betrayal of the
dignity and moderation
with which the Jewish race
reacted to their terrible
sufferings in the last war."
They had practiced truth
and fairness, he says.
However, Lord Weiden-
feld had published a book
"attempting to pin politi-
cal responsibility upon a
reckless young girl.
Not content with dis-
cussing the book, Lord
Lambton heaps ridicule
on Lord Weidenfeld, sag
ing he was recently enno-
bled "for politeness to Sir
Harold Wilson and Lady_
Falkender" ec-
retary), that he do, not
enjoy reading but deals
with books "as a butcher
with joints of meat: his
sole consideration, the
clearance of his stocks."


Lord Weidenfeld has
contented himself so far
with only a curt reply: "I
am quite satisfied as to
the accuracy of David
Pryce-Jones' book and the
quotations it contains.
Lord Lambton is clearly a
master of the art of abuse.
but when it comes to ac.--
curacy and integrity, his
views cut no ice with me."

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