If you would have collected a group of world-renowned military strategists on Oct. 6 1973, and asked them, at 4p.m. Israel time, for a prognosis on the status of the events unfolding on the Golan heights that afternoon, they would have probably told you Israel should be preparing the airport and shipping ports for a massive evacuation.
And in all honesty they would have been right. After all, scarcely two hours after two thousand Syrian tanks crossed the border with only two brigades (approximately 125 tanks) on the line, nearly fifty percent of Israel’s forces had been wiped out.
In the South, all along the Sinai border, hundreds of thousands of Egyptian troops had crossed the Suez canal and the famous Bar-Lev line was in tatters, with only three Israeli tanks trying to stem the tide; it appeared the young State of Israel was about to become a distant memory.
And yet, just a few days later, the Syrian troops were in retreat, Israeli reserve divisions that were finally coming on line were rolling towards Damascus, and the entire Egyptian eighth army was on the verge of being surrounded. How did this happen? What turned things around?
Malcolm Gladwell, in his best-selling book The Tipping Point, citing the example of Hush puppies shoes which were about to be phased out of production before skyrocketing to becoming the best known shoes in America in the space of a matter of months, suggests that there is a ‘tipping point’, a series of seemingly insignificant events that combine to turn everything around and change the course of events.
This ‘tipping point’ is what can turn the entire world economy around in the space of a week, or skyrocket an unknown artist to become a world-wide sensation in a matter of days.
Very often, the actual moment or series of seemingly unconnected events go unnoticed by everyone, including often even those who are themselves responsible for what subsequently transpires.
The story of Effie Eitam, a Captain in an elite infantry reconnaissance unit on that fateful Yom Kippur afternoon is a case in point.
Eitam was responsible for a small five man reconnaissance unit that was on duty while most of the battalion had actually gone home on leave for Yom Kippur.