Sharon and Dayan

Arial Sharon, with bandage on his head, shares a joke with Moshe Dayan, the Israeli Defense Minister during the Yom Kippur War. It was a seminal moment as captured by David Rubinger, and in some ways a parting of ways too.

Dayan, sometimes called Lord Nelson of the Desert, was the hero of Six-Day War, but during the Yom Kippur War (1973), he would be caught off-guard and the Israeli army suffered heavy defeats in the first two days. Although the tide eventually turned in his favor, Dayan testified before the Agranat Commission investingating the Yom Kippur War, insisting that he lacked the necessary military qualifications to make decisions as a defense minister: “I’m not a tank man, I’m not an artillery man, I’m not a paratrooper, and I don’t have a staff… I am not and was not a military man for 10 years, and I didn’t return to dealing with the army after that, but rather to political defense issues.”

Earlier with David Ben-Gurion, Dayan enabled the rise of Sharon as a practitioner of the disproportionate strike to deter Arab aggression. Now Sharon had turned against Dayan and criticized the minister for hesitating to use extreme force. (Dayan believed doing so would alienate the allies in the west). For Dayan, it was the end of an era. Deeply depressed, he imposed political exile upon himself, only returning three years later to become the foreign minister for Menechem Begin. In that capacity, he was instrumental in drafting Camp David Accords, which ceded back to Egypt the lands which he once helped to conquer.

Sharon who was called back to active duty from retirement for Yom Kippur was relieved of duty immediately too. Aggressive and controversial, he would remain on the backbenches on a while before becoming a controversial minister of defense and even more divisive prime minister.

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