The October War – the name Egyptians call the Yom Kipur War
– is considered by the Arab world's most populous nation as a glorious victory over Israel. However, as time passes, younger generation born after 1973 seems to be losing touch with the country's past 'triumph'.
"We want to fix that," said Ahmed Ziad, the founder of the Group of Historians of 1973 (or simply Group 73 Historians), a group dedicated to "the war's achievements and disseminating the acts of bravery for the average Egyptian and Arab
Together with his friends, Zaid, a 39-year-old who works as a manager in an American commerce company, supplies Arab internet denizens with a slew of activities as well as documents, videos, pictures and stories from the Egyptian perspective, in a bid to overcome what he considers a historical misrepresentation of the great victory by both Israel
and local media.
"I was born two years after the war. But my father was part of the paratrooper force in the 'breach' (of the Suez Canal) which blocked General (Ariel) Sharon's forces at Ismailia. Many times he spoke about it and would take us to Sinai so I could see the battlefield myself.
beat Israel and the US, the (post-war, Israeli inquiry) Agranat Commission proved this."
Today, Ziad claims, Egyptian children are not aware of their history, and if they are, it is distorted. "Schoolchildren do not know anything beyond the fact that on October 6 there was a war and that Egypt was victorious."
"The war was a pure Egyptian victory, but interest is declining every year because the media presents the same imagery over and over again. The Egyptian media does not allow an open discussion of the October War, the War of Attrition
or the June defeat (the Six Day War)
and therefore fail to spike the public's interest in them."
This is where Ziad and his friends enter the picture, "we try to bring new materials to light, and not only during the month of October."
Moreover, according to him the war is "distorted" and the facts are "falsified" in accordance to different political agendas which appropriated for their needs.
At first, "the war was presented as solely (Anwar) Sadat's
decision. After he was assassinated, the war turned into an aerial victory, because (Hosni) Mubarak was head of the air-force at the time. I think that a lot of Egyptians still believe that Mubarak himself took-off alone to attack Israel.
But local political forces are not the only ones distorting the war's narrative: "According to the Israeli Air Force's
website, there was no arieal battle on October 14 1973, despite the fact that Israeli newspapers published reports regarding the battle." Ziad is convinced that "Israel lost 20 planes in that battle and hence the event was erased."
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According to him, "the Israeli tone regarding the war shifted from the war ending in a tie – premised on the fact that Syria
was defeated – into an Israeli victory.
"The younger generations were told that Israel is unbeatable and that is simply not what happened in 1973. This is a massive historical overstatement on Israel's part, and this is the Egyptian response to that, even if it was late to arrive."
Regarding the possibly of renewed conflict between the two states, Ziad offered a diplomatic answer: "War between the two countries is always a possibility because of different economic and political ambitions. However, the Egyptian people have no desire for a new war with Israel – or any country for that matter.
"The Egyptian people are a people whose hand is always extended in peace, if the Camp David Accords
can be modified so that Egyptian army forces could be active in Sinai and take out the terrorists then nobody would want to nullify the peace agreement. However, the Egyptians are always ready to fight to the end if their homeland is in danger."
Have no doubts – Israel is still considered an enemy by the Arab and Muslim world he stressed, at least "as long as the Al-Aqsa Mosque
is under your occupation. If the Israeli government would accept the principles of a just peace, it could be friendly with all the Arab states. Arabs forgive easily if they are given what is naturally theirs. But as long as they feel oppressed and depressed they will continue to fight for a regular life in their own land."
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