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Dayan, Moshe (1915–81)

Subject History

Place Middle and Near East » Israel

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


Israeli Minister of Defence (1967–74) and Foreign Minister (1977–9). His parents emigrated from Ukraine to Palestine in 1908 and it was there at Degania, the first kibbutz in the country, that he was born. Brought up in poverty, he learnt colloquial Arabic and, as a member of Haganah (the Jewish defence force), fought in the Arab rebellion (1936–9). He lost his left eye and subsequently wore a distinctive black patch when fighting for the British against the Vichy French in Lebanon in 1941. A founder member of the Palmach (the commando unit of the Haganah), he was commanding officer in Jerusalem during the Israeli War of Independence (1948–9) (see israel, birth of ). Dayan greatly impressed ben-gurion , who made him Chief of Staff (1953–8), so he was present at the collusion meetings with Britain and France which decided to attack Egypt during the suez crisis . His campaign in 1956 was brilliantly successful: in five days he defeated the Egyptians and seized Sinai and the Gaza Strip, though US and united nations pressure forced Israel to give these up. From 1959–64 he was Minister of Agriculture and, with Ben-Gurion, founded the Rafi Party, which in 1968 joined with other left-wing parties to form the Israeli Labour Party. As tension with Egypt mounted Levi Eshkol formed a Government of National Unity and Dayan returned to the cabinet in 1967 as Minister of Defence just before ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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