A year has passed. Only a year. Last Passover, we gathered here to bid farewell to Ezer for the last time. Today, a year later, we are gathered here to unite in his memory.
So many things have happened over the past year, when Ezer was no longer with us. We have undergone so many tribulations and challenges. Had Ezer been alive, he probably would have – as he always did – taken a clear stand, expressed it in his unique way, and tried to influence the situation and shape public opinion in his inimitable way.
Ezer belonged to the Generation of 1948, the generation which produced a group of leaders who were rare in their quality and contribution. Even among this group, Ezer stood out high. High – because he was tall, and high – because he was so special and so different.
Each station in his fascinating course of life was a milestone in the annals of the State of Israel: his uncompromising optimism, his deep faith in the ability of the people of Israel to overcome all obstacles, his captivating simplicity, which captured Jews and Arabs, Sabras and new immigrants, people from the center and the periphery.
Ezer was commonly referred to as the "prototype of the Israeli Sabra”: direct, often blunt, devoid of unnecessary etiquette. A man who favored deeds over words and was often publicly criticized for it. Above all, Ezer was a great believer in the strength of the people of Israel: a true, simple and captivating faith. A faith that I wish we could instill in every boy and girl in Israel, maybe even in every leader in Israel.
In January 1996 Ezer, as President of the State of Israel, embarked on a state visit to Germany. The sight of an Israeli President addressing the German House of Representatives, was a chilling one. The speech he gave there was a shining example of true Jewish and national pride.
These were his words as he stood on the podium, addressing the members of the Germany Parliament:
"Only 200 generations passed since a man named Abraham rose and left his country and homeland and traveled to the land which is now my land. Only 200 generations passed from the day Abraham bought the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron to the murderous conflicts taking place there in my generation. Only 150 generations passed from the pillar of fire which was the Exodus from Egypt to the pillars of fire which rose from the Holocaust. And I, a descendant of Abraham and of the land of Abraham, was in all of them:
I was a slave in Egypt, I received the Torah on Mount Sinai, and together with Yehoshua and Eliyahu, I crossed the Jordan River. I entered Jerusalem with David, and was exiled with Tzidkiyahu. I remembered Jerusalem on the rivers of Babylon, and when my forefathers returned to Zion, I was one of the dreamers who built its wall. I fought the Romans and was expelled from Spain, I was crucified in Magenza (Meintz), and studied Torah in Yemen. I lost my family in Kishinev and was burnt in Treblinka and rebelled in Warsaw and immigrated to the land of Israel. This is my land, the land from which I was exiled and where I was born and where I come from and to where I am returning".
Such a speech could only have been given by someone whose love for the people of Israel and the land of Israel was deeply rooted in his soul. True love – not merely lip service, not love which is politically motivated or used for propaganda purposes, but innocent, deep and sincere love. Ezer loved the people, and the people loved Ezer. And our love for him will continue to accompany us for many years to come.
I send our love to Reuma, the woman whose nobility captured – and continues to capture – our hearts, and extend our best wishes to her for a speedy recovery and a long life.
May the memory of Ezer Weizman, Israel’s 7th President, be blessed.