Members of Knesset,
We have gathered here to honor the 7th President of the State of Israel, Ezer Weizman, may his memory be blessed.
Ezer Weizman deserves much credit in the wonderful story of the revival of the people of Israel in their land. As a fighter pilot, he was one of the founders of the Air Force, and its commander, and he contributed much to the strengthening of the security of the State of Israel. As a statesman, he was one of the architects of the Peace Accords with Egypt. As President of the country, he was loved by all the people, was a comfort in difficult times and he admonished when necessary.
Ezer’s life and mine crossed paths many times. We fought together in Israel’s wars, and later we sat together in the Government. As I remember Ezer, dozens of images come to mind – of meetings, of joint struggles and also of disagreements. I mentioned several of our common experiences during my eulogy at his funeral.
In his last years, after he retired from his position of President of Israel, we met many times to discuss current events. I updated him as to the goings-on in the political and security spheres, and Ezer always gave wise advice and offered ideas and directions of thought for Government activities. When he was troubled, he more than once called me late at night. The man did not rest for a moment, he never relaxed.
One thing was very important to Ezer, and he mentioned it at each of these meetings. He always opposed the spirit of dejection which sometimes surrounded the Israeli people, and more intensely – politics in Israel. He always saw fit to emphasize the accomplishments of Zionism, the long road the State took in just a few years.
Even during the most difficult hours, he emphasized that not everything was black, and that there was more good than evil. That is why he dedicated his swearing-in as President of Israel to one of the greatest of these accomplishments – to the ingathering of millions of Jews from around the world in the State of Israel – the State of the Jewish people. At the time, Ezer appealed to the people of Israel with the statement: “Do not speak ill of this land.”
On one of his first visits as President, Weizman met with high school students from the kibbutzim in the Jordan Valley. One boy asked him the typical Israel question – “What will be?” Ezer answered – “I am optimistic but not idiotically optimistic. It is time to look at the glass half full. On the whole, the country is prospering. It is true that hundreds of thousands of people still live below the poverty line, but our situation is one of the best we have ever had.” Years later, he wrote in his memoirs that after he said those things, he saw a smile creep across the worried boy’s lips. As always, Ezer succeeded in focusing attention on the positive side of things.
Ezer taught us to appreciate the great accomplishments of the Zionist enterprise. Despite the difficulties, in this place we created a society of which to be proud. We gathered Jews here from all ends of the earth. Scientific research in Israel is among the most advanced in the world, and because of it, many Israeli companies have joined the world elite of knowledge-based industries. Also in the field of the humanities, Israel has been blessed with many talents in the arts, literature, theater and film. These are talents which gained international recognition and appreciation.
We will learn this from Ezer, and we will remember, also in our most difficult hours, the long road we have taken, and we will gather our strength to continue forward. Ezer said it best in his swearing-in speech, with the slogan: “Let everyone say – it is good to live for our country”.