Middle East: The Quickest War

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Dayan is as much a sabra as an Israeli can be. He was born on May 20, 1915, in the first Jewish kibbutz established in Palestine. When he was seven, his Russian émigré parents moved the family to a moshav, a cooperative farm where, unlike a kibbutz, the members own their land. Moshe liked both farming and books, but he soon found himself learning the arts of war as well. The British sent him to prison in 1939 for belonging to a unit of the Haganah, the Jewish underground.

He was released two years later to work as a scout for the Australians against the Vichy French in Syria. During a fire fight, a bullet drove his binoculars into the left side of his face, destroying an eye, which he has kept covered ever since with a Hathaway-style black patch. Despite his wound, Dayan was eventually back in action, leading the Haganah commandos in 1948. Soon after, he took command of the Jerusalem front in Israel's first war with the Arabs. In 1953, he was made Chief of Staff, and he taught the Israeli army his uncompromising philosophy of battle—speed, emphasis on surprise and night assaults—the attributes that led to victory in 1956, and again last week.

Only a year later, he retired to study politics. He joined Ben-Gurion's Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture, where he proved every bit as tough a professional as he had been in the army. Against determined opposition, he broke up the large dairy cooperatives, which he felt were not operating in the nation's best economic interest. He seemed on the way to eventual premiership. Then, when Ben-Gurion resigned and left the ruling Mapai party, Dayan followed; he became a Knesset member of B-G's splinter Rafi party.

Fiercely independent, and an outspoken iconoclast, Dayan was a success at every job he tried. But the profession of arms is his first love. He went back into uniform last week with calm confidence. If he had any complaint, it was that the desk-bound duties of a Defense Minister kept him from spending as much time as he would have liked with his troops; there was too much paper work waiting in his command bunker in Jerusalem. Even so, at least once a day he motored, flew or helicoptered to inspect some military field position. He wanted to see for himself that every aspect of the war was being handled properly. For this time Israel was involved in far more than a Sinai campaign.

Lovelier Windows. At 11 a.m. on the first day of battle in response to a plea from Nasser, Jordan opened a second front. Mortar and artillery shells rumbled down from the heights of Arab Jerusalem to splatter the Israeli sector of the divided city. Longer-range guns reached across Israel's narrow waist to hit the outskirts of Tel Aviv, and Syrian guns opened up on northern Israeli towns from the hills overlooking the Sea of Galilee. But it was Jerusalem, the Israeli capital, that took the worst damage the Arabs inflicted on the Jews in the whole war. Most of the city's residents spent the next two days of constant bombardment in underground shelters. Even with only essential civilians venturing above ground, more than 500 were killed and wounded in the massive Jordanian shelling.

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