(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Following are excerpts from President Moshe Katsav’s eulogy for assassinated Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze’evy delivered on Thursday, October 18, 2001, at the Knesset plaza:
This is a difficult day in the life of the state and the Jewish people. A nightmare come true. Bullets fired by despicable murderers put an end to the glorious and eventful life of a great leader, statesman, military man, friend, neighbor and one of the best sons of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
Rechavam Ze’evy, a reflection of the homeland of the Jewish people, a great patriot and lover of Israel, had an unsurpassed knowledge of the land of Israel.
As time passes, the pain, shock and outrage over the terrible murder only grow.
As time passes, one who has been called a partner and leader of a people, is fully revealed in his nothingness, a nullity among men, who has brought disaster on his people and bears full responsibility for the bloodshed in our midst, a man who spews forth to the world fraudulent and boastful words.
They want – at any price – to set the Middle East ablaze. Time and time again, they have rejected our hands that were extended toward them in peace. They have put an end to the story of a soldier who served his country and his people for over 60 years.
A lion has fallen today, a military man, from the generation of giants, a commander and fighter from 1948, a Palmah member, a patriot and an idealist, a fearless warrior.
Rechavam Ze’evy, a man of faith and confidence, an upright man, an excellent organization man, a top staffer, as defined by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and IDF General Staff members. A cultured man, a man of books, a decent man, an original and creative thinker, a pleasant and refined man, with a lion-like spirit, a hero, an uncompromising man when it came to his world view but a man of compromise in daily life.
A simple and modest man, a good-hearted man. Rechavam Ze’evy, generous and farsighted, possessing wide knowledge and a good soul.
An earnest, careful and thorough-going parliamentarian. Well-loved. Even those who did not agree with his positions loved his engaging personality. Many of Israel’s Arab citizens loved him and honored him.
On Tuesday, I met the Prime Minister. We discussed diplomatic-security matters. On a certain matter, the Prime Minister recommended that I consult Gandhi on the subject.
I was unable to; he was murdered.
Rechavam Ze’evy turned his dogtags into an inseparable part of his life and thus enshrined his obligation to the missing, captive and abducted IDF soldiers.
Our Gandhi had a glorious past, he and his wife – who was always with him – traveled throughout the entire country in order to be convinced of the justice of their way, in order to help people in distress, in order to express their love of the land of Israel.
He lived in the land of Israel for 75 years, breathed its air and was familiar with every corner, and hiked its length and breadth. Rechavam and Yael expressed their love for their homeland and the Jewish people in the names they gave to their children: Yiftah-Palmah, Sayar-Binyamin, Masada, Aravah and Tzaelah.
Rechavam was born in Jerusalem’s Yemin Moshe neighborhood and fought for Jerusalem for over 60 years. His blood was spilled in Jerusalem near Mt. Scopus, near the Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, near the Old City and near the Temple Mount.
To you Yael, a woman of valor, the wife of a soldier who was on duty his whole life, the wife of Rechavam, a man of great strength, be strong and keep fighting.
Citizens of Israel, at this difficult hour, we grind our teeth but must stand together; together, we will emerge victorious in this difficult battle which has been forced on us. They cannot defeat us.
We have excellent security forces, among the best, most dedicated and enlightened in the world. With God’s help, they will protect and keep us.
"And Rechavam slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David." [I Kings 14:31]
Go in peace and rest in peace, in the soil of Jerusalem that you loved so much.