rehavam zeevi 298.88.
(photo credit: GPO)
Former tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi's son Palmach surprised a crowd at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl Ceremony who gathered to memorialize his father when he endorsed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to set Israel's final borders.
Ze'evi makes headlines every year for criticizing the government with sharp, right-wing criticism of the government and there was no shortage of that this year, the fifth anniversary of his father's murder by an Arab terrorist at Jerusalem's Regency Hotel. But Ze'evi added praise this year for Olmert, who ordered the capture of Ze'evi's killers in Jericho and formed a prime ministerial council to honor the late minister.
Archive: Knesset votes to memorialize Ze'evi legacy
"Set a border for the state of Israel so every soldier will know where it is and can feel free to open fire if he feels he is in danger," Ze'evi said in a message to Olmert, who has abandoned his plan to set Israel's borders unilaterally.
Palmach had sharp words for the army's leadership, berating its handling of the war in Lebanon and lambasting Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz for thinking "that the air force could wipe out a [fanatical] religious organization like Hizbullah."
Ze'evi emphasized his father's military service and lifelong dedication to Israel's security. He said that his father's vision for a secure Jewish state was not being followed, and warned against what he described as the growing danger of militant Islam, whose purpose, he said, was "to exterminate everything that is not Islamic."
Palestinians are indoctrinating their children to hate Israel, Ze'evi said, while Israel "gives gifts to terror[ists]" instead of dispatching them from this world. "Enough of the obsessive yearning for the world's recognition," Ze'evi remarked, "the world will never accept us Jews, as it did not accept our ancestors."
"The Yassers and Mohammeds took you from us," the bereaved Ze'evi said, concluding his speech in what seemed to be a mixture of anger and grief. Pausing to collect himself, Ze'evi added "but they did not take your legacy."
Speaking at the memorial, Olmert eulogized Ze'evi as a "man of iron principles that did not bend and did not change." If the political reality did not match Ze'evi's powerful convictions, Olmert said, "then the reality had to change, and not the other way around."
Olmert said that had he still been an MK, Ze'evi would have likely been one of his government's most vocal critics. Olmert himself gained recognition as a junior MK in the 1970s for accusing Ze'evi of ties to organized crime.
Ze'evi's wife, Yael, said his voice was missing this year to warn of impending attacks in the North and South and against withdrawing from Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Noting that Ze'evi wore army dog tags around his neck to remember missing soldiers; she said sadly that this year, he would have head to add dog tags of three more kidnapped soldiers.
Born in Jerusalem in 1926, Ze'evi served in the underground Palmach and as an intelligence officer during the War of Independence. He headed the army's Central Command from 1968 until a week before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. When the war broke out he returned as a special adviser to the general staff and then served briefly as head of the army's operations branch.
Ze'evi retired from the military in 1974 and served in prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's government as an adviser on terrorism and security.
In 1988, Ze'evi founded the nationalist Moledet party, which won two seats in the 12th Knesset that year and later united with Israel Beiteinu. Ze'evi was known for his controversial right-wing views - in particular his advocacy of a "voluntary transfer" of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.
He joined Ariel Sharon's government in 2001 as tourism minister, but resigned in protest of its handling of the second intifada.
Before his resignation went into effect, Palestinian gunmen shot Ze'evi in the head at close range as he walked to his room at the Hyatt hotel in Jerusalem.
Six members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were held for his murder in a Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho until the IDF captured them earlier this year, after the US and British guards supervising their detention were ordered home.
Ahmed Sa'adat, the alleged mastermind of the assassination, was jailed in Israel on terrorism charges after authorities concluded there was not enough evidence to charge him with Ze'evi's murder.