Final Saturday’s murderous assault by Hamas has plunged Israel into the best disaster it has confronted in virtually precisely 50 years.

The date of Saturday’s assault (7 October) is important. It was simply sooner or later after the fiftieth anniversary of a shock assault on Israel by Egyptian and Syrian forces, an assault that additionally posed a possible existential risk to the Jewish State. There are necessary variations between then and now, but in addition some essential similarities. And so trying on the earlier battle supplies some perception into the plight Israel is dealing with immediately.

On 6 October 1973, the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched a large assault on Israeli forces on Yom Kippur, the holiest day within the Jewish calendar. In what turned identified on the Israeli aspect because the Yom Kippur Conflict, the nation’s army forces have been virtually overwhelmed. If they’d been, it might have virtually actually meant the tip of Israel.

On the time, Israel was nonetheless basking in its dramatic victory within the 1967 Six-Day Conflict, when it defeated the mixed may of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. However any sense of nationwide confidence was shattered on 6 October 1973, and changed by a way of vulnerability.

A brand new movie, Golda, recounts these dramatic occasions from the attitude of Israel’s then prime minister, Golda Meir. Opposite to the impression given by the movie’s title, that is no biopic of Israel’s first (and to date solely) feminine prime minister. The main target is on the warfare because it appeared to her throughout these fateful two and a half weeks in October 1973.

Israeli director Man Nattiv confronted a formidable problem making the movie accessible to overseas audiences. How might he make the movie understandable with out turning it right into a docudrama? He makes good use of archive footage however a lot of the main focus is on the character of Golda herself, excellently performed by Helen Mirren.

Nattiv places Golda’s chain-smoking to good use as a means of symbolising the immense stress enveloping the nation. There are frequent photographs of overflowing ashtrays. And he makes use of Golda’s bodily frailty to symbolise Israel’s vulnerability.

On the time, the 75-year-old Golda, unbeknownst to the general public, was affected by lymphoma. That meant going for covert scans at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital, even through the warfare. At one level, Golda is proven coughing up blood.

But regardless of her bodily infirmity, she was immensely robust and wily. Because the movie reveals, at one second she can be enjoying the genteel Jewish grandmother, insisting that Henry Kissinger, the visiting American secretary of state, had some borscht. The subsequent she is proven threatening to slaughter Egypt’s encircled third military if Israel’s give up phrases will not be met. To compound Golda’s issues, Moshe Dayan, the Israel defence minister and a key participant within the scenario, was apparently having a nervous breakdown on the time.

The anniversary of the Yom Kippur Conflict had been garnering substantial consideration in Israel even earlier than final weekend’s terror assault. That wasn’t simply because it was a half-century in the past. It was additionally as a result of Israel had as soon as once more been feeling existentially threatened.

Up till final Saturday, nonetheless, the risk was largely seen as inner. Israel’s army and technological elites had been in open revolt in opposition to the democratically elected authorities for months. They’d led a protest motion that – supposedly within the title of democracy – was intent on sustaining the Supreme Courtroom’s ultimate say in political decision-making. Israel had hardly ever been so bitterly divided.

Furthermore, lots of these protesting in opposition to the federal government have been reservists in elite army models, who withdrew or threatened to withdraw from army service. This arguably left Israel extra weak to violent assaults.

The change in attitudes amongst Israel’s army elite was forcefully introduced dwelling in a latest documentary on the Yom Kippur Conflict on Israel’s public-broadcasting community, Kan. It featured a fighter pilot from 1973 insisting his grandson shouldn’t volunteer for a combatant position when conscripted. The pilot stated he would inform his grandson ‘It’s not good to die for our nation’ as a result of ‘the face of our nation has modified’.

The present Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is actually no Golda Meir. His prime concern since being re-elected appears to be his personal political survival. Though he could be extremely charismatic, he lacks political imaginative and prescient. If Netanyahu was ill-equipped to deal with the disaster over judicial reform, he seems to be even much less suited to dealing with the present battle.

It’s exhausting to think about that Golda would recognise Israel because it exists immediately. It’s true that she would in all probability not be stunned that it’s dealing with one other existential disaster. Israel’s place within the area has at all times been precarious, given the animosity it faces from its neighbours. However the nation’s lack of management, and the deep fissures that also exist beneath the floor, would little question come as a deep shock.

Daniel Ben-Ami is an writer and journalist. He runs the web site Radicalism of Fools, devoted to rethinking anti-Semitism. Observe him on Twitter: @danielbenami. He’s talking at a session on Israel at 75 on the Battle of Concepts competition in London on 29 October.