Behind the Headlines Farewell Party to Yaacov Tzur

At the age of “almost 70″ Yaacov Tzur sat last night among friends in Jerusalem and said with a light heart, “Shalom, it was nice working with you.”

But one of his friends, Golda Meir, sitting right next to him at the party that was to officially end his 16 years as chairman of the Jewish National Fund, warned him: “If you live in the illusion that you are going on vacation, let me tell you of the experience of someone older than you.”

For 90 minutes, Tzur, who seems too far away from retirement age, sat and heard the stories of the generation which, in his words, “is slowly fading.” And at the end of the hour-and-a-half, he committed himself to tell the story of this generation to the younger generation. “Not the facts, everyday a new book is published with new facts. But rather the spirit–I want to tell about the spirit of the generation.”

Tzur promised to tell the story of Zionism as a way of life, as a revolution “which I sense even today, even as I see the stagnation in many of the branches of the Zionist movement.” The target of this mission: the revival of the latent vitality in the Jewish people, “that for some reason we did not know how to revive.”

LIFE’S WORK CITED

Many of the “Who is Who” in the Israeli political establishment came to the party: Knesset Speaker Yisrael Yeshayahu, Supreme Court Judge Moshe Landau, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, Defense Minister Shimon Peres, World Zionist Organization Executive Chairman Yosef Almogi, who hosted the party, Minister-Without-Portfolio Gideon Hausner, General Zionist Council Chairman Yitzhak Navon, Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek and former Premier Golda Meir. Mrs. Meir praised Tzur’s work in Jewish communities throughout the world alongside his diplomatic work in Latin America and France.

He worked with French Jewry, she said, at the time when it was “unlike French Jewry of today.” It was a time when Jews were primarily Frenchmen, and it was not easy to reach them, not to speak of daring to tell them they had a certain commitment toward Israel. Tzur, she added, was among those who initiated the first Israeli diplomatic contacts with the developing African nations.

Almogi said about Tzur: “He is only 70, only 55 years in the country and already managed to accomplish double the standard activity. Yaacov Tzur symbolizes the good Israeli.”

And Mrs. Meir could not do without a little preaching: “It is really a shame. Everybody who reaches 70 thinks that’s it. He can go home. Well, I have news for you–you will now have the difficult job of choosing among all those offers which waited until you resigned.” One of the jobs he has already accepted is as the new chairman of the Public Council for Arab Jewry.

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