Former Mossad director Meir Dagan was buried at the Rosh Pina Cemetery on Sunday. He died on Thursday, aged 71.
Current and past leaders attended the funeral and paid tribute to the former intelligence chief’s many achievements on behalf of the country’s security.
In his eulogy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Dagan symbolized an important Zionist achievement, which he defined as “the ability to hold the defending sword [and] to stand firm against our enemies in the battle for the existence of the nation.”
Netanyahu hailed Dagan’s daring in the fight against terrorism, and the sheer chutzpah of his espionage plans.
“I was always impressed by his love of the state and his Zionist patriotism,” the prime minister said. “He said that terrorism would not end at least for another 100 years. I don’t know if it will take another 100 years, but I know that terrorism will continue to hit us.”
Photo: MEIR DAGAN'S IDF medals and insignia. Dagan held the rank of Maj.-Gen. upon retiring from the IDF in 1996, having served in the Six Day War, Yom Kippur War and First Lebanon War. (Credit: KOBI GIDON/GPO)
The premier recalled sitting in Dagan’s office and bursting out laughing after the spy chief presented his audacious plans.
The murder of Dagan’s grandfather by the Nazis in the Holocaust was always in Dagan’s mind, Netanyahu said.
“At the ultimate moment, no one came to save the Jews.
Meir Dagan remembered that, and we must always remember that. When the test comes, we must be able to defend ourselves, by ourselves, and not to rely on the mercy of others.”
Dagan worked tirelessly to ensure that Israel does not face existential danger, Netanyahu said, adding that he “fought with bravery on the battlefield, and proved his daring in the fight against terrorism.”
Dagan saw Islamic zealotry as a tangible threat that required Israel to strengthen its deterrence, intelligence and ability to thwart threats, the premier said, including in “hidden ways, in breakthrough techniques, and in ways that surpass the imagination.”
President Reuven Rivlin recalled how Dagan always looked at the photograph of his grandfather, Rabbi Be’er Sloshni, with his hands raised while on his knees, at the Lukow ghetto in Poland, wrapped in a prayer shawl, seconds before he was executed by Nazi soldiers.
“‘This is what guides me,’ you told me. ‘This is what guides me to act on behalf of the State of Israel and on behalf of the Jewish people...
I look at that photo and promise that such a thing will never reoccur, and I hope and believe I did all that I could to keep that promise.’ Meir, you did it. And how. You went above and beyond, with love, dedication, and endless commitment.
All of your acts were tied to the Israeli people and its fate.”
Former president Shimon Peres said at the funeral that Dagan never asked what he should get in return for his service to the state. “You were, after all, born to give, Meir,” Peres said.
“Meir never surrendered.
Not to a drawn sword, not to a painful truth, and not during his campaign for peace. He was a born leader. There’s a good reason fighters went after him into the battlefield, in overt and covert places.
The people trusted him and placed in his hands the fate of the battle, and the power of a vision. Under his command, which was composed of a mix of wisdom, bravery, creativity and a grain of winning audaciousness, the Mossad became the best organization in the world.”
Newly appointed Mossad director Yossi Cohen said that “with Meir Dagan’s passing, the Israeli people has lost one of its greatest warriors. Those are big words, and they should be used carefully and with restraint. But in Meir’s case – yes, that’s how we called the head of the Mossad, we simply called him Meir, or Dagan – in Meir’s case, this description is accurate and true.
“Meir taught us, the people of the Mossad, to combine daring with cunning, bravery with ruses, to take big chances, and to act at the same time with responsibility and sound judgment. He taught us one important thing in particular: to act with optimism and self-confidence, while stubbornly sticking to the target, with a focus and a level of energy that will allow us to succeed, and especially, to work as one man, as one organization, in what he called and endowed to us all, integration,” Cohen said.
Dagan used the same dedication to care for personal problems among Mossad personnel, Cohen said. He distanced himself from control rooms at times to give senior and low-ranking members the space to act on their own, after he made himself very clear on what he wanted to achieve.
“But at the same time, he knew when to get involved, when to be present, when to put a hand on someone’s shoulder, to always listen well to the opinions and ideas of others – even the youngest, and sometimes, particularly to them,” Cohen said.