Begin, Navon Pay Their Respects
Menu JTA Search

Begin, Navon Pay Their Respects

Download PDF for this date

Premier Menachem Begin and President Yitzhak Navon both paid their respect to Moshe Dayan in poignant statements yesterday. Begin first met Dayan in 1944 and Navon knew him since the days when both served under Premier David Ben Gurion. In his appreciation of Dayan, Begin said:

“Ever since we first met, in the underground in summer 1944, I had a special sense of respect and admiration for Moshe Dayan — as a fighter for Israel, indeed one of our greatest warriors of all times.

“Moshe Dayan was both a soldier and a statesman, and in both capacities he served his country with great devotion and loyalty. He loved Eretz Israel with all his heart and soul … every hill, every valley, every path and tree.

“It is not true that he was a hard man. I can say from my own experience of him that there is no fruth in that legend; he had a sensitive soul, the heart of a poet. He was a man without fear, and therefore he was able to serve as an example to others ….”


“When we think upon his life,” Begin said, as a pioneer and a soldier, the long centuries of exile, persecution and humiliation “seem to disappear, and we return in our minds to the days of Joshua and Caleb, Gideon and Jephtah, Jonathan and David, Avner and Yoav, Judah Macca bee, Yannai and Bar-Kochba. For he was their brother, their son or grandson … their blood flowed through his veins.”

But the centuries of Jewish suffering cannot be erased, the Premier continued. They are part of our history — and they make the modern-day renaissance of Jewish martial valor and national self respect “all the more marvelous.” Dayan was “one of the greatest (of Jewish fighters), and thus he will live on, from generation to generation.”


Navon, in his assessment which was broadcast to the nation last night, said: “Moshe Dayan will be remembered for his great contribution in imbuing the spirit of fighting bravery into Zahal, and for his fruitful and original thinking in the field of foreign policy.

“For many long years he symbolized, to this nation and to the world, the young generation of Israel fighting for its survival. In recent years he was the untiring pursuer after peace.

“Moshe Dayan was always a controversial figure. You could never be indifferent towards him. You couldn’t ignore his personality, his deeds and his thoughts. Every step that he took or statement that he made immediately reverberated — and occasioned either enthusiastic approval or energetic opposition.

“But both his supporters and his opponents were united in regarding him as a very special person, an original and mutli-faceted figure. He was a man of the earth, a product of the land, a moshav member, always an early riser. He fought for every inch of land and knew the value of every agricultural implement. At one and the same time he was a rough-edged sabra and a sensitive poet — and a brave and cunning warrior. May his memory be blessed.”


Statements of appreciation were also issued by prominent people in Israel and abroad. Nearly all referred to Dayan’s pragmatism, originality of thought and his charisma. Messages of grief and condolences arrived from many world leaders, including President Reagan of the United States, President Francois Mitterrand of France, and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. All described Dayan as a visionary in search of peace.

Former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who worked with him on the Camp David accords, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who worked with him on the separation of forces and interim agreements with Egypt after the Yom Kippur War, spoke of his “brilliant intelligence” and “originality of thought.” Kissinger referred to him as “a good friend” and as “a man in advance of his time.”

Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir described Dayan as “one of Israel’s greatest sons … a man who will be remembered as a great soldier … who followed an original path, in advance of his own time.”

Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres spoke of his long-standing friendship with Dayan, since both had been chosen by the Labor Party and Ben Gurion to represent the party at the World Zionist Congress in 1946. Peres described Dayan, who had served in various Labor Party posts until he broke with it in 1977, as a “man of great wisdom … and original mind.”

Tributes to Dayan also came from West Bank Arabs who spoke of their admiration for his efforts to ensure coexistence between Jews and Arabs even though they said they could not agree with his approach of political ideology.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund