The San Diego Democracy for America Meetup Group Message Board › In celebration of a man of true courage and vision!
|A former member||
I would like to offer this post in celebration of a man who was both a man of war and a man of peace; a man in brave defense of his country's interests, but a man who had the vision to see the prospects for peace and seize upon the opportunities to promote them.
He commanded the air force that preserved Israel's freedom from its inception, but was enough of an optimist and believer in harmony that he was able to arrange peace treaty between Israel and and Egypt, the first with an Arab country.
Not being of either Jewish religion or culture, I nevertheless strongly salute his convictions and actions. Flawed, perhaps deeply, he nevertheless contributed immensely to the world he lived in - lived in with the most positive vision for his country and otheres, and the courage to promote that vision.
May we all try to be more like him in our imagining and striving to promote the belief that harmony is always possible and worth striving for, whether it be between individuals, or political parties, or nations.
National News from The Associated Press
Former Israel President Ezer Weizman, Who Helped Negotiate Peace Treaty With Egypt, Dies at 80
Former Israeli President Ezer Weizman, a flying ace and crack military commander who built up the nation's air force and helped bring about the Jewish state's first peace treaty with an Arab country, has died, Israel Radio said Sunday, April 24, 2005. He was 80.
04-24-2005 1:53 PM
By MARK LAVIE, Associated Press Writer
TEL AVIV, Israel -- Former Israeli President Ezer Weizman, a flying ace who built up the nation's air force and helped bring about the Jewish state's first peace treaty with an Arab country, died Sunday. He was 80.
Weizman, who was president from 1993 to 2000, had suffered from respiratory infections in recent months and was repeatedly hospitalized. He died shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday at his home in the northern Israeli resort town of Caesarea with his family by his bedside, according to a statement by Weizman's successor, President Moshe Katsav.
Israeli radio said the funeral was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.
In three decades in political life, he made a highly public transition from hawk to dove, saying the Jews had to learn to "share this part of the world" with the Arabs.
As defense minister in 1979, he was instrumental in negotiating Israel's peace treaty with Egypt.
Weizman, a political moderate who pioneered contacts with Palestinian leaders, later resigned from then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin's Cabinet, complaining about his strict interpretation of interim peace accords with Egypt. Ariel Sharon, now Israel's premier, replaced Weizman as defense minister.
Weizman's casual style breathed life into the presidency, a largely ceremonial office, and endeared him to the Israeli public. His vacillation on issues of peace reflected the uncertainty of ordinary Israelis _ he cooed dovish when they favored territorial concessions and called for a slow-down when they feared things were moving too fast.
His bluntness and sharp-tongue often got him into trouble with other politicians who accused him of overstepping his authority.
Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres, a one-time political ally, said Weizman was unique. "In war, he showed incredible bravery, and when peace appeared on the horizon, he enlisted for it," Peres told Israel's Channel Two TV.
His last year as president was marred by scandal when he became the target of a police investigation into fraud and breach of public trust.
Weizman was born in the northern port city of Haifa on June 15, 1924. His uncle, Chaim Weizmann, was Israel's first president.
He learned to fly at 16 and in World War II underwent flight training in the British army, later serving as a fighter pilot in Egypt and India.
Returning to Palestine in 1946, he became one of the Israeli army's first pilots and undertook daring missions in the 1948 War of Independence.
He was sent to study at the Royal Air Force staff college in England in 1951 and was appointed commander of the Israeli air force in 1958.
In 1969, he retired from the military and joined the nationalist Herut Party. He was appointed minister of transportation in the coalition government of Golda Meir but lost his job when Herut, which later became the Likud bloc, walked out of the Cabinet in 1970.
In 1977, Weizman headed the election campaign that launched the right-wing Begin to power after the 29-year reign of the rival Labor Party.
On Dec. 20 of that year, Weizman made a secret trip to Egypt. That trip _ and the friendship he formed with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat _ served as a catalyst to the negotiations that culminated in the U.S.-sponsored Camp David agreements between Israel and Egypt in 1978.
Weizman's natural rapport with people and his untiring diplomacy helped keep the leaders of the two enemy countries at the negotiating table through many crises, as he recounted in a gossipy account entitled "The Battle for Peace" published in 1980.
That same year he resigned abruptly from Begin's Cabinet because he failed to win government approval for a plan to grant Palestinians autonomy in the occupied West Bank _ one of the major points of the Camp David accords.
Critics viewed the step as typical of his impulsiveness, and party colleagues bore him a bitter grudge. Supporters cited the resignation as an example of his honesty and uncompromising beliefs.
Weizman believed unremittingly in the need to expand the peace with Egypt to include Jordan and Israel's other neighbors. It constituted a pillar of his platform when he returned to politics in the 1984 elections at the head of the centrist "Yahad" (Together) Party.
He won only two seats in the 120-member parliament and joined forces with Prime Minister Peres' Labor Party.
Weizman said he decided to switch allegiance to Labor because the Likud had failed to follow up the peace process.
In his 1980 book, he wrote: "I still call myself a hawk. A dove bills and coos, fluttering about in hesitation and uncertainty, while a hawk swoops down, seizes the initiative and takes advantage of changing situations to suit his cause."
His political shift has been attributed to the hurt he felt over his only son, Shaul, who never fully recovered from the wounds suffered in Israel's 1970 war of attrition with Egypt. Shaul died in an auto accident in 1991.
After the Palestinian uprising began in 1987, Weizman broke party line and advocated negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization, then outlawed in Israel as a terrorist organization, and its leader, Yasser Arafat.
"Nothing contributes more to defense than peace," he said. "Let's try to talk to Arafat. We have one of the best air forces in the world, we have one of the best armies in the world. What the hell are we worried about?"
Weizman, who served as minister for Arab affairs and later minister of science and technology, was forced out of the decision-making "inner Cabinet" in 1990 for reported contacts with the PLO.
Israeli peace crusaders were delighted when the Knesset elected Weizman as president in 1993. But when Israel signed a peace accord with the PLO later that year, Weizman complained that it was done in haste. After a series of deadly suicide bombs by Islamic militants, Weizman defied the Labor government line by calling for the suspension of peace talks.