SpyCast 10.17.23
Ep 607 | 10.17.23

“The Intelligence Legacy of the Yom Kippur War” – with Uri Bar-Joseph

Show Notes


Uri Bar-Joseph (LinkedIn) joins Andrew (TwitterLinkedIn) to discuss the intelligence failure of the Yom Kippur War. Uri is an author and professor emeritus at Haifa University. 

What You’ll Learn


  • How Israel failed to predict the Yom Kippur War
  • Egyptian spy Ashraf Marwan’s role in the War
  • How Israeli intelligence evolved post-War
  • Israeli leadership’s accountability for the failure


  • Learning and adapting from mistakes
  • Catastrophe and national trauma

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, the most traumatic and memorable event in Israeli history. The war is known as one of Israel’s most notable intelligences failures and is remembered as a major turning point in the trajectory of Israeli intelligence. This week on SpyCast, Andrew was joined by Uri Bar-Joseph, author of the authoritative account on the Yom Kippur intelligence failure, The Watchmen Fell Asleep. Uri is a professor emeritus at Haifa University, veteran of the Yom Kippur War, and also wrote the book that inspired Netflix’s 2018 film “The Angel,” based on the true story of Egyptian spy Ashraf Marwan

This episode is third in our 5-part series on Israeli Intelligence. Begin the series with a crash course in Israeli intelligence with Erez David Maisel, then check out last week’s episode with Uzi Arad, former National Security Advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu. Stay tuned for an episode next week on Israel’s top-secret special forces unit Sayaret Matkal. 


Israel is certainly not the only nation to experience a monumental intelligence failure. Here at the International Spy Museum, we highlight two of the United States’ most notorious intelligence failures in our exhibits: Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 Attacks. Visit us in Washington, D.C. to learn more. 

Quotes of the Week

“We’ve had many wars. This is the only war that we remember. This is the most dramatic event in Israeli history, at least until recently … Now that it is the 50th anniversary there is a lot of noise about it. And I think it will be remembered as such also in the future. I hope that we won't need to replace it with another traumatic event. We hope so.” – Uri Bar-Joseph




*Beginner Resources*



  • Eighteen Days in October: The Yom Kippur War and How It Created the Modern Middle East, U. Kaufman (St. Martin Press, 2023)
  • THE ANGEL: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, U. Bar-Joseph (Harper Publishing, 2017)
  • The Watchmen Fell Asleep: The Surprise of Yom Kippur and Its Sources, U. Bar-Joseph (State University of New York Press, 2005) 
  • The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East, A. Rabinovich (Shocken, 2004)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*

  • How did Israeli children experience the Yom Kippur War? 
  • Check out this article from the National Library of Israel, which features excerpts from the October 8th children’s issue of Haaretz and “Letters to the Editor” written by children during the war to hear their perspectives.