Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan is considered by many the foremost representative of the State of Israel in the first generation of its existence. He was born in 1915 to Shmuel and Dvora Dayan in Degania, Israel's first kibbutz established in 1909 south of Tiberius. When he was five, his parents joined the founders of Nahalal, the first cooperative village in Israel, not far from Nazareth. It was here, later, that his involvement in security matters began. He served as a special policeman, as motor patrol commander, as an instructor in the Haganah and as a fighter under Orde Wingate. Dayan, together with 43 other trainees in the Haganah, was arrested by the British and sent to Acre prison. After his release, he served as one of two deputies (the other was Yigal Alon) of Yitzhak Sadeh. In 1944, Dayan commanded a Haganah force that participated in the Allied invasion of Syria. It was in this battle that he lost his eye and thereafter the black eye patch became his physical mark of recognition.

At the outset of the War of Independence, Dayan served as the officer for Arab affairs in the Haganah head-quarters. Later, as commander of Jerusalem, Dayan got his first opportunity to display his diplomatic skills. He participated in negotiations with King Abdullah and his representatives which resulted in a series of agreements at the end of the war. Dayan fulfilled a decisive function in shaping the character of the Israel Defense Forces, and in developing a new military doctrine which was crystallized and reached its peak in the Sinai Campaign of 1956, which he commanded as Chief of Staff.

In January 1958, Dayan retired from the IDF and, following two years of law studies, entered active politics as a representative of the Labor Party. He was one of those who supported Ben-Gurion in his decision to break away from the party mainline. In 1963 he resigned from the Eshkol Government in protest against his exclusion from responsibility for security matters.

On the eve of the Six Day War (June 1967) Dayan was appointed Minister of Defense in the National Unity Government and led the IDF in that war. The appointment of Dayan was a result of public pressure and broad multi-party support.

Following the war, Dayan formulated the "open bridges" policy and originated the policy of economic integration between the State of Israel and the "territories" (the newly occupied territories in the Six Day War), as well as ways and means of arriving at Jewish-Arab co-existence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. He endeavored to found a "different relationship" between Israel and its neighbors with the object of instilling into the Arabs' awareness the fact of Israel's existence as a legitimate, permanent reality in this part of the world, whilst, at the same time, establishing normal relations and mutual dependence between Israel and the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Dayan continued as Minister of Defense during and after the Yom Kippur War and was the subject of severe public criticism relating to the opening stages of the war. However, the Agranat Committee, which investigated the events of the war, found no fault in the manner in which Dayan had discharged his duties- though it did not take a position on the subject of his ministerial responsibility. After the war, Dayan was an active partner in achieving the separation of forces agreement with Egypt, in 1974. After Prime Minister Golda Meir's resignation on April 11th, 1974, Dayan didn’t join the Rabin government.

After the 1977 electoral upheaval, Dayan acceded to the invitation of the Likud leader, Menachem Begin, to serve as Foreign Minister in his cabinet. At the end of his term in the ninth Knesset, he established an independent party, Telem, on which he was elected to the tenth Knesset.

As Foreign Minister, Dayan initiated the first contacts with Egyptian representatives preceding President Sadat's visit to Jerusalem. He fulfilled a central role in the Camp David Conference and the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt. He resigned from the cabinet on October 23rd, 1979 because of differences of opinion over the implementation of the agreement regarding autonomy for the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Dayan's approach sought to achieve a continued Israeli military control of the territories together with a centrally-planned settlement effort. Dayan maintained that Jews should never be made foreigners in any parts of The Land Of Israel, yet opposed the extension of Israel sovereignty over the territories or the running of the day-to-day lives of the Arab inhabitants.

After resigning from the government, Dayan tried to further his plan for the unilateral implementation of autonomy in the territories. He propounded this position both in the Knesset and in the "Forum for Political and Social Discussion" which served as his main stage for expressing political opinions after the 1977 elections.

Dayan was a complex character; his opinions were never strictly black and white. He had few close friends; his mental brilliance and charismatic manner were combined with cynicism and lack of restraint. Ariel Sharon once noted about Dayan: “He would wake up with a hundred ideas. Of them ninety-five were dangerous; three more were bad; the remaining two, however, were brilliant”. Dayan was an amateur archaeologist, a hobby leading to some controversy, as his private amassing of historical artifacts, often with the help of soldiers and military resources, seemed to be in breach of a number of laws.

Moshe Dayan, Israeli-born, fighter, soldier and statesman died from a massive heart attack in 1981.

The stamp was issued in 1988. Designer: R. Beckman.