(JTA) — Several Israeli politicians called for canceling state-organized commemorations for Rehavam Zeevi following the publication of rape and intimidation allegations against the slain former Cabinet minister.
The allegations appeared earlier this week on Channel 2’s investigative journalism television program “Uvda.” It included an anonymous testimony by a female soldier who said she was raped by Zeevi, a right-wing politician and retired general whom Palestinian terrorists murdered in 2001.
According to “Uvda,” Zeevi also conspired with a crime boss, Tuvia Oshri, to set off an explosive device in 1974 outside the home of Silvia Keshet, an investigative journalist who wrote critically about Zeevi. No one was convicted of the crime.
Following the airing of the documentary, the chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz party, Zehava Gal-On, said her party will work to cancel the annual memorial day that the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, inaugurated in 2005 in Zeevi’s memory.
Shelly Yachimovich, a Zionist Union lawmaker who used to head the Labor Party, supported the initiative on Twitter. Zeevi, she wrote, “is dead but his victims live on, scarred, as their daughters and granddaughter study his horrific legacy.”
Eitan Haber, a close associate of the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, said Zeevi during an argument once pointed a handgun at Haber’s head. Zeevi, known by the nickname “Gandhi,” fought bravely during Israel’s War of Independence and was a senior member of the general staff of the Israel Defense Forces during the Six-Day War. Rabin, who was chief of staff, promoted him to brigadier general after the war.
Hailing from a socialist Zionist home, Zeevi gradually became more hawkish. During the 1990s, he was an advocate of the concept of having Arab Israelis transferred outside the borders of the State of Israel.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party said he would oppose attempts to stop commemorations and criticized the airing of documentary, citing Zeevi’s inability to respond to the claims.
“Gen. Rehavam Zeevi devoted his life to safeguarding Israel’s security. It is inappropriate to destroy his reputation when he is unable to comment,” Ariel wrote.
Ayman Odeh, leader of the the Joint Arab List party, linked the sexual offenses attributed to Zeevi to his political views.
“It is unsurprising to discover that a person who supported the transfer of a civilian population also assaulted women and persecuted journalists,” he wrote on Twitter. “Those who saw no shame in commemorating him earlier should not find it any more shameful to do so now.”