Adjusting Sights: The Weight of the American Factor in the Israeli decision against a Pre-Emptive Attack on the Yom-Kippur War

Yehuda Blanga

One of the fundamental principles of Israels security doctrine is taking a vigorous and aggressive initiative against the enemy, by means of a preventive war or preemptive first strike. Between 1955 and 1967, Israel implemented this doctrine. On October 6, 1973, however, it chose to digress from it. The day before, Israel had promised the United States that it would not launch a preemptive air assault on Egypt and Syria, despite the strong suspicion that war was imminent. In general, the American factor had a strong influence on the Israeli considerations against a preemptive strike, and grew and was inflated until it took on the dimensions of "a myth," in the words of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The present article examines Kissingers "myth." To put it another way, how much weight did Israel give to the American factor when it decided against a preemptive attack on the morning of October 6, 1973? What other factors affected its decision? How did the United States view the possibility that Israel might launch a first strike against the Arabs?