Rama and Yom Kippur

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

I was in my second year law school when the fourth war between Israel and the Arab states erupted. It became known as the Yom Kippur War. Unlike the present when the internet can pick up the most inane incident happening in the farthest part of the world and show it in our cellphones, the reportage of that October 1973 war was slow and always sketchy. Even then the world watched with unflinching interest. Since I had no military education and would not know how to evaluate the progress of the conflict, I just read what was reported in the Philippine Daily Express, then the leading national paper tolerated by Martial Law.

I do remember that the war started with Arabic armies simultaneously attacking Israel from many fronts. In about three days, they sliced large portions of Jews-held territories and succeeded to show that the vaunted Israeli army could be compromised and defeated. But just as the world thought that the Arabs were winning, the Israelis counter attacked with awesome speed and ferocity that they came within short distances of the capitals of their enemies. In the end, history records it as a war won by Israel.

True to the OFF TANGENT nature if this column, I wrote here, just recently, that there are distinctive parallels between war and politics. Here in our locality, there are telltale signs not quite unlike the Yom Kippur war where various parties have launched their political armies and descended upon Mayor Michael Rama. Their arsenals consisted of cases filed in diverse fronts plus unending streams of social media accounts. The mayor’s 6 month-suspension could be likened to the initial Arabic breach on Israeli held territories in October 1967.

Before the Yom Kippur, the Israelis were lulled into an arrogant confidence that the previous six-day war demonstrated the invincibility of their armed forces. In unbelievable precision, they crushed their Arab foes in less than a week. That was why their 1967 military confrontation was called the Six-Day war.

The political victory of Atty. Michael Rama in 2013 over an electoral icon in Tomas Osmeña might have made him feel as gloriously invincible as Moshe Dayan when Israel attacked and destroyed Egypt and Syria's air forces and also defeated Jordanian attacks and ended with Israel in control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Although Rama lost in 2016, he was convinced that he was cheated and so he re-organized his army to bounce back to victory in 2019, as vice mayor and 2022 as mayor.

Here is what appears Mayor Rama might have become. I must add though my hope that this perception is entirely wrong. First, as Rama became like Dayan, arrogantly confident, (pardon my term), he lulled himself singing the Singapore-like hymn instead of administering the city ala Lee Kwan Yu. Sloganeering rather than action reigned. Second. He almost became recluse as he would not listen to the collective wisdom of some of his well-intentioned friends and so they chose to distance themselves. If John F Kennedy was proud to surround himself with “the best and the brightest” Rama, probably thinking that he knew everything, shoved away the better minds. Third, words spread that he failed to oversee effectively his field commanders. There were talks about the inefficiency and high handedness of his trusted people and such rumors necessarily dirtied the mayor. I do not know though if these derogatory remarks reached his ears but what was apparent was that he did not act on them.

Rama should now realize that his perceived administrative faux pas and the ugly gossips were the ammunition of his political foes. Like the first three days of Yom Kippur war when Israel got battered, he still has time to regain his footing and fight a great 2025 election.

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