Moshe Dayan


Dayan was born  on May 20, 1915 was born in kibbutz Deganya Alef. When he was only 14 years old, Dayan joined the Haganah, an underground organization that defended Jewish settlements  from Arab attacks. In the Haganah, Dayan learned guerilla warfare from British Captain Charles Orde Wingate, who was a leader of night patrols organized to fight Arab rebel bands. During the riots of 1936-1939, he served with the special police force in  the Jezreel Valley and Galilee. When the British outlawed the Haganah in 1939, Dayan was arrested and imprisoned for          two years. Upon his release in 1941, Dayan joined the British army, where he served with the forces that liberated Lebanon and Syria from Vichy France during World War II. Dayan was wounded in battle in Lebanon and lost his left eye. He began to wear the black eyepatch that later became his trademark. In the 1948 War of Independence Dayan commanded the defense of Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley. He later commanded the battalion that attacked the city of Lydda and helped halt Egyptian forces on the  southern front. In August 1948, he was appointed commander on the Jerusalem front. In 1949, he participated in armistice talks with Jordanian officials at Rhodes. In 1953, he was elected Chief of Staff of the armed forces. Dayan insisted on strong retaliation operations against Arab terrorism. His view was that the Arabs saw terrorism as a stage of war, and the longer the terrorist attacks continued, the longer the Arabs had to build up their military strength. He wanted to force the Arabs into open battle before they gained full military power. Under Dayan’s command, the Israeli military launched raids in Gaza and other retaliatory missions, causing heavy casualties to the Egyptians, Syrians, and other Arab populations. On October 29, 1956, Dayan led Israel’s Suez campaign, an invasion of the Sinai Peninsula after Egypt, Syria and Jordan signed a pact stating as their goal the destruction of Israel. Dayan left the military in 1958 and entered his second career — politics. He joined Israel’s Labor Party, Mapai, and was   elected to the Knesset in 1959. Dayan was appointed Minister of Defense under Levi Eshkol just in time  for the Six-Day War in 1967 against Egypt, Jordan and Syria. When the Syrians were shelling Israeli villages in Upper Galilee, Dayan was the one who made the decision to launch a full-scale attack against the Syrians. It was also Dayan who ended the fighting by arranging a cease-fire with Syria through Chief of Staff of the UN Observer Corps, General Odd Bull. Dayan was seen as “a solo performer, partly admired, partly feared for his political stunts.” After the war, Dayan controlled the territories occupied by the Israeli Army. He opened the borders for Arab residents of the territories to travel to Arab countries, while at the same time maintaining order and security in Israeli-held areas. Dayan kept his position as Defense Minister when Golda Meir of the Labor Party succeeded Eshkol as Prime Minister in 1969.   On Yom Kippur, October 6, 1973, Egyptian armies crossed the Suez Canal, moved anti-aircraft  missiles into the canal area, and waged war on Israel. Israeli losses were high and Israel had too short a supply of equipment to conduct a prolonged war. On October 22, a cease-fire was declared, but the Israeli public’s confidence had been severely shaken. The nation’s lack of preparation was blamed on Defense  Minister Dayan and an outraged public demanded his resignation. Dayan submitted his resignation to Golda Meir in 1974. In 1977, the newly elected Prime Minister Menachem Begin gave Dayan a second chance by offering him the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Although Dayan was from the opposition Labor Party, he accepted the appointment. In May 1977, Dayan began negotiating with the Egyptians with the premise of receiving an Arab acceptance of Israeli rule over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, in exchange for a return of Sinai to Egypt. He negotiated  for 18 months, and held secret meetings with officials in India, Iran, England and Morocco. His style is described as acting  “alternately with dash and deliberation, advancing and stalling, vacillating between surprising compromises and inexplicable intransigence.” With help from U.S. president and mediator Jimmy Carter, Dayan met with the Egyptians first at Leeds Castle and later at Camp David. Eventually, a peace agreement, the Camp David Accords, was drawn up and  signed at 11 p.m. on Sunday September 17, 1978. In 1979, Dayan resigned as Foreign Minister. On May 14, 1979, Dayan was diagnosed with colon cancer. He died on October 16, 1981, in Tel Aviv and was buried in Nahalal, the moshav where he was raised. []

Moshe Dayan’s Quotes:

  • I  have traveled a long road from the battlefield to the peace  table.
  • Israel  cannot afford to stand against the entire world and be denounced as the  aggressor.
  • The  Old City of Jerusalem is in our hands.