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Daily Israel Report

Ze´evi, and His Transfer Proposal, Remembered

At a Knesset memorial ceremony for Cabinet Minister Rehavam Ze'evi on the 4th anniversary of his murder at the hands of Arab terrorists, praise of the man and criticism of his philosophy were heard.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/2/2005, 2:11 PM / Last Update: 11/2/2005, 1:24 PM

Ze'evi, known also by his nickname Gandhi, was murdered four years ago in a Jerusalem hotel by a terrorist of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The fiery minister and former IDF general, who strongly promoted the transfer of the Arab population from Judea and Samaria, was on his way to his room to conduct an interview with Arutz-7 when he was shot to death at around 7 AM. The terrorist opened fire from almost point-blank range, killing Ze'evi almost instantly.

President Moshe Katzav, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, Ze'evi's wife and children, and others were in attendance at the memorial ceremony. Speakers included Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Opposition Leader Tommy Lapid, MK Benny Elon - the head of the Moledet Party that Ze'evi founded - and former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Sharon, a personal friend of Ze'evi, said, "If Gandhi were alive today, he would certainly have been at the head of my detractors - but he would have done so fairly and honorably." Sharon said that regardless of whether he agreed with Gandhi's approach, he was happy that the Knesset recently passed a law mandating the annual memorial ceremony for Ze'evi.

Rivlin said, "There are those who ostensibly try to beautify Gandhi's image and erase from his past the 15 years in which he wished to teach the People that dwells in Zion the philosophy of transfer. Gandhi himself would have scorned this attempt to distort his image... He was a man of truth, even if it was difficult or harsh. I frequently did not agree with him, but you could not help but be impressed by the truth in him."

Lapid noted Ze'evi's love for the Land and the Bible, and the fact that as an IDF general he wore discs with the names of missing soldiers. Lapid said, "Ze'evi represented everything we loved when we still loved ourselves."

MK Elon noted that unfortunately, even the right-wing never paid sufficient attention to Gandhi's transfer proposal, yet "Sharon suddenly discovered that Jews could be transferred to solve a demographic problem... Suddenly, everyone realizes that there is a demographic problem! How amazing!"

Netanyahu said, "Gandhi's diagnosis of the problem was correct, but part of his proposed solution [namely, transfer - ed.] was mistaken." Netanyahu said, however, that the demographic problem must be discussed in the Knesset in order to find a fitting solution.

Rehavam Amikam Ze'evi, born in Jerusalem in 1926, was a sixth-generation Jerusalemite on his mother's side. Together with his wife Yael, he had five children, 19 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. His five children all have names with modern Jewish-historic significance: Yiftach Palmach, Sayar Binyamin (now a Breslover Hassid known as Benny), Massada, Tse'elah, and Aravah.

Ze'evi served in the IDF since its founding in 1948 in many positions, including heading the Central Command beginning in 1968. He retired from the army with the rank of Maj.-Gen, and was appointed Prime Minister Rabin's counter-terrorism advisor in 1974. He also carried out many defense missions in various countries, and was elected to the Knesset in 1988 as head of the Moledet Party that he founded. Ze'evi served as minister without portfolio in the Shamir government for about a year in the early 90's, and became Tourism Minister in the Sharon government.

Gandhi was murdered only a few hours before his resignation from the Cabinet was to go into effect. Together with then-Minister Avigdor Lieberman, he handed in his resignation in protest of the Sharon government's withdrawal from most of the city of Hevron.