31 years on: Vandals desecrate Dayan's grave

Vandals spray-painted former defense minister Moshe Dayan's grave, declaring "the minister of failure, on behalf of the fallen."

Moshe Dayan Grave Grafitti 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Israel Police)
Moshe Dayan Grave Grafitti 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Israel Police)
Vandals desecrated the grave of former defense minister and IDF chief of staff Moshe Dayan Monday night on the 31st anniversary of his death.
In black spray paint surrounded by splotches of red, vandals wrote “Minister of failure – in the name of the fallen” on the grave at Moshav Nahalal in the Jezreel Valley, Dayan’s childhood home.
Migdal Ha’emek police have opened an investigation into the crime. They said Tuesday night that they have no suspects so far. Police believe the vandalism took place not long before it was discovered and reported to police. The graffiti was found by a civilian at the cemetery on Tuesday morning who contacted the police.
The writing could possibly be a reference to the Yom Kippur War, which broke out a little over 39 years ago in October 1973.
Dayan was defense minister during that war, and his public image was tarnished by Israeli public criticism of his conduct, when 2,688 IDF soldiers fell in battle.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a condemnation on Tuesday afternoon, saying “we cannot accept the routine desecration of graves, burial sites and holy places.”
He spoke during a ceremony held at the Knesset to mark the 11th anniversary of the death of former tourism minister Rehavam “Gandhi” Ze’evi, assassinated in the Jerusalem Hyatt hotel on Mount Scopus on October 17, 2001.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, also speaking at the ceremony, said “if ‘Gandhi’ was with us today, he would have harshly condemned the desecration of the grave of Moshe Dayan. In spite of the differences in their approaches to things, ‘Gandhi’ would not have allowed us to let this act pass quietly.”
Rivlin added “the desecration of Dayan’s grave marks a new low in the Israeli culture of argument. This bears painful witness that our society has lost its ability to dispute and argue with one another in a logical, respectful and considerate way.”
Netanyahu added that Israel cannot accept such acts that desecrate “the memory of people who belonged to the generation of fighters and founders of the State of Israel.”
Born on Kibbutz Deganya – established October 10, 1910 – Dayan participated in the invasion of Vichy-controlled Lebanon alongside the British in 1941, where he lost his left eye. He was in charge of the Israeli forces that fired on the Irgun ship Altalena in 1948, an event that – had it spiraled out of control – could have meant civil war in Israel between the Jewish Left and Right.
Later Dayan was chief of staff during the invasion of Egypt in 1956.
Most famously, he was appointed defense minister just in time to participate in the victory of the Six Day War.
Leading up to the Yom Kippur War, Dayan argued with then-prime minister Golda Meir over the need to mobilize troops, and he opposed a preemptive strike.
When the surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian forces came, it knocked the IDF off balance for several days on both fronts. To this day the war remains a traumatic event in the history of Israel, and both Dayan and Meir paid dearly for the war in the Israeli collective memory.
Seth Frantzman contributed to this report.