A woman of action: 80-year-old peace activist Yael Dayan still protesting

Long-time political activist speaks out on #MeToo movement and the state of Israeli politics

March 6, 2019 22:53
2 minute read.
Yael Dayan in 2003, a year after contracting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Yael Dayan in 2003. (photo credit: VARDI KAHANA)


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Long-time political activist Yael Dayan gave a far-reaching interview to Maariv in honor of her 80th birthday this weekend. The iconic politician spoke to the Hebrew-language sister publication of The Jerusalem Post about, among other things, the upcoming Knesset elections and her legacy in Israeli politics.

An early member of Peace Now, Dayan entered the Knesset in 1992 with the Labor Party, and later served as deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. Though her chronic lung disease necessitates the need of an oxygen tank, she nevertheless is still politically active, notably attending a July 2018 demonstration in Rabin Square in favor of gay rights, where she spoke from the podium in her wheelchair.
Graduates of an Israel Defense Force officers course. First on right Yael Dayan, August 1, 1957. Credit: GPO archive.

Dayan lamented the loss of Tzipi Livni from the political scene but predicted a revival for the Labor Party. "I believe the Labor Party will carry out a rehabilitation operation that will include replacing its leader and unifying its message," she said.

The once fabled party that was once home to David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres is now seeing its lowest-ever showing in the polls.

Maariv's Karin Spingold asked Dayan about the #MeToo movement and received some answers that surprised the journalist. "I am in favor of shortening the limitation on [litigation of] sexual harassment, but not rape," Dayan stated. "My esteemed lady, they touched you and it was against your will? Do not tell me you needed 10 years to overcome the shame."

"In order for the complaint of sexual harassment to be credible, it is certainly necessary to shorten the statute of limitations," she added, and encouraged victims to be strong and not "wait 10 years after you were pinched."

Dayan said that she was a strong-willed, confident woman in her youth. "Fortunately, this did not prevent my husband from falling in love with me, and did not prevent us from living happily together." Her late husband of 30 years, Dov Sion, was an IDF spokesman and head of the Joint Committee that negotiated peace between Israel and Egypt.

She also spoke fondly of her 102-year-old mother, Ruth, and her late brothers, successful screen writer Assi Dayan and artist Udi Dayan

Dayan is the author of Israel Journal: June 1967 (also known as A Soldier's Diary) and My Father, His Daughter, which chronicles her relationship with Moshe Dayan, the celebrated defense minister and IDF chief-of-staff.

For the full article in Hebrew click here.

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