Friday, October 12, 2007

Ze'evi was murdered on October 17, 2001, or 30 Tishrei 5762 in the Jewish calendar, which falls on Thursday night this year.

A memorial ceremony marking six years since the assassination of former Minister Rehavam Ze'evi was held Thursday afternoon at the Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. In attendance, in addition to Ze'evi's family and friends, were President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Speaker of the Knesset Dalia Itzik, Likud Chairman Knesset Member Binyamin Netanyahu, and other MKs.
"Rehavam Ze'evi was dear to the heart, and easy to like, even for his opponents." -- President Shimon Peres

The ceremony included a memorial prayer chanted by an IDF cantor, a wreath-laying by the President, and speeches by Ze'evi's wife Yael, his son Palmach, and President Peres.

Ze'evi was murdered on October 17, 2001, or 30 Tishrei 5762 in the Jewish calendar, which falls on Thursday night this year. Three terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) shot the minister to death inside a Jerusalem hotel, just outside his hotel room. He was killed shortly after resigning from then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government, but before the resignation went into effect. He was 75 years old at the time of his death.

President Peres: He Was Not a Racist
In his speech in honor of the slain leader, who was also a general in the IDF, President Peres said, "Rehavam Ze'evi was dear to the heart, and easy to like, even for his opponents."

The President said that those who have accused Ze'evi of racism are mistaken. Ze'evi and the party he headed, Moledet, saw voluntary transfer of the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside of Israel's borders as the only solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict, but "on the personal and human level, he respected the Arabs of Israel and knew their culture, language and lifestyle very well," Peres said.

"On the national level, his claim that the entire Land of Israel is the eternal inheritance of the people of Israel, and is indivisible, come what may, did not enjoy widespread popularity," the President asserted. "I myself was, as is known, an opponent and rival of his; and more than once I was a target of his linguistic arrows, which were rich, razor-sharp, and pleasant to the ear even at their most extreme. I unequivocally disagreed with him," Peres said, "but I always held him in high esteem."

Peres summarized Zeevi's passion for his country lyrically: "The story of his love for the Land of Israel, both ancient and new, is written by a loving master artist; a song of songs for Israel, his love."

Palmach Ze'evi: The Killers Picked the Wrong Tribe

In an address at his father's graveside Thursday, Palmach Ze'evi lamented an apathy he discerns among the Israeli people and prayed for change. He also used the occasion of the memorial to harshly criticize past and present leaders of the State for continuing the policies against which his father fought so bitterly.

"Today," Ze'evi declared, "an enemy far stronger [than the assassins] is threatening to throw us out of our home. A far more fatal danger than the bullets of the Arabs is the exhaustion that we, Jews, feel within ourselves. Ever since I buried my father, Rehavam, I understand more and more the greatness of the loss. ...We, the Israelis, are becoming apathetic and are distancing ourselves from the state, and that is the beginning of the end. I pray that we will return to that passionate love that my father had for the land and for the Jews residing on it. We miss you so much, father."

Turning to Peres, Ze'evi said that while his father would likely have voted for him for President - just as he did in a previous presidential campaign - the Moledet founder would have immediately chastised Peres for saying that it is not yet possible to judge the outcome of the Oslo Accords signed with the PLO. "He would have tried to demonstrate to you that the greatest fraud in history is underway here," Palmach said.

"Don't believe it, people of Israel, when they attempt to anesthetize you with such weakness," Ze'evi continued. "Instead of preparing the people for a lengthy struggle, they are giving us snake oil. 'What has changed?' [my father] would have asked. 'Have the Arabs changed? Has Islam changed? Has the logic that two nations cannot share a single state changed?' But we, who handed out weapons in the days of Rabin, which ended up harming Jews, are doing the same thing again these very days. But the government didn't stop to ask what has changed."

Addressing those who share his father's values, Ze'evi said, "We must compete for leadership and return this country to ourselves. Please, Lord, return strength to my people."

"Among the 120 Knesset Members, the killers chose father," Ze'evi noted. "They knew why they picked him, but they didn't know that they picked the wrong tribe." The "Ze'evi tribe," Palmach announced proudly, now has three more officers in the IDF who will continue the tradition of love for the Land of Israel that he himself was raised with.

Special Knesset Session
On Monday, October 15, there will be a special Knesset session in memory of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. The session will be held in the Knesset plenum in the presence of President Peres. Addressing the session will be Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Knesset Speaker Itzik, the President of the Supreme Court, and MK Netanyahu, as the official leader of the opposition.

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