Retired general Uzi Dayan not easily discouraged
Letter from Israel
By Nechemia Meyers
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Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan (Res.) is marking three momentous events this month, 60 years after they took place. They include his own birth, the death in battle of his father and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.
Uzi Dayan, despite the fact that his family is part and parcel of Israel’s Mayflower Generation, did not have a privileged or pampered childhood. He grew up on moshav Hayogev in the Valley of Jezre’el, in a home that at that stage had neither running water nor paved floors. And like other moshav kids he was out in the fields day after day, helping to cultivate the fields and harvest the crops. In the absence of TV, computers and video games, there was ample time for outdoor games and hikes all over the country.
When it came time to join the armed forces, where his uncle Moshe Dayan was already a key figure, he was determined to be in the front lines, despite the fact that his knee injury restricted his movements, and his status as the only son of a woman whose husband had been killed in battle automatically exempted him from service in a front line unit.
This didn’t deter Uzi, who did everything he could to hide his physical disabilities and to override the usual exemption. In the end he not only joined a front line unit, but the toughest commando formation in the IDF. the Sayeret Matkal. He served the death-defying Sayaret for an extraordinary 15 years and was its commander for part of that period.
Towards the end of his long military career General Dayan was Commander of the Central Command and Deputy Chief of Staff. After exchanging his khaki uniform for civilian clothes, Dayan spent two years as the Chairman of the National Security Council and National Security Advisor to Prime Ministers Barak and Sharon.
Now Dayan is a full-time politician, having founded the Tafnit Party. As its Hebrew name indicates it is determined to take the country in new directions.
“After my many years in public service,” he declares, “I’d come to the conclusion that it doesn’t lack for talented people; it has an abundance of them. But it lacks leadership, men and woman who have the vision and the charisma to help Israelis fulfill their full potential.
“Youth are of particular importance. The globalized world is open to them and unless they feel that this country is moving ahead under competent leadership, all too many will choose to live elsewhere.”
Dayan’s Tafnit party, which is yet to be represented in the Knesset, emphasizes the need to devote more resources and energy to the solution of social problems and to fighting corruption.
Does Dayan have a chance to fulfill his dream?
That is open to doubt because, in the past, new reform parties like Dash and Shinui enjoyed a brief period of success and then faded away.
Yet this determined ex-general, who was born and orphaned by his father 60 years ago, refuses to be discouraged.
Nechemia Meyers is a writer in Rehovot, Israel.