Levi Eshkol 50 years since his death

March 13, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin have addressed the state memorial ceremony for former PM Levi Eshkol on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin have addressed the state memorial ceremony for former PM Levi Eshkol on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Levi Eshkol was the third prime minister of Israel, Levi Eshkol ז”ל

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Eshkol faced a very great test during the siege on Israel before the Six Day War. Eshkol did not rejoice in unnecessary wars; no responsible leader of Israel rejoices in unnecessary wars. He understood the cost of such a war but when war was forced upon us, it was clear to him that we had to push back strongly, and repel the aggression directed against us.

It is true that Moshe Dayan replaced him as Defense Minister several days before the war but it must be made clear – our crushing victory, which included ejecting the Syrian enemy from the Golan Heights, was achieved by the readiness of the IDF which Eshkol had promoted in the years before the war.

The crushing victory in the Six Day War was one of the strongest layers of the iron wall that we established against the Arab supremacy, just as foreseen by Jabotinsky, whose remains Eshkol brought to this mountain.

Only when our neighbors are convinced that our strength and our presence here are irrefutable facts, only then some of them will be persuaded to make peace with us, and we are fully advancing this recognition and agreement process with our remaining neighbors, not with all of them, but with most of them.

We are doing this with extensive segments of the Arab and Islamic world in an expedited normalization process, only part of which the public can see. We are also holding this process in secret, and Israel is currently in contact with half a dozen important Arab and Islamic countries, which up until recently were hostile to Israel.

This is incomparably important to the vision of peace – peace through strength. Eshkol, who replaced David Ben-Gurion, forged a special path for himself in leading the country. He sagaciously avoided unnecessary wars but at the moment of decision he used the power of the IDF as a mailed fist against enemies who threatened our existence on three fronts.”

Photo: Mark Neiman (GPO)

President Rivlin said: “In these highly charged days, I urge you all to follow in Eshkol’s footsteps: the way of reconciliation and acceptance, seeing the other as a legitimate partner for common political action, not as the enemy within to be fought.”

President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, Tuesday 12 March / 5 Adar II, participated in the state memorial ceremony for the third prime minister of Israel, Levi Eshkol ז”ל, on the 50th anniversary of his death.

The president began by saying, “Fifty years have passed since Levi Eshkol, one of our greatest leaders who served as Minister of Finance, Minister of Defense and Prime Minister of Israel, passed away.”

The president added, “alongside his activity and achievements, Eshkol was one of the most thoughtful and far-sighted leaders our country has known. As the years pass, we learn more and more about how outstanding this wonderful and dear man was. With the perspective of time, we understand how important his stubborn determination to develop Israel’s resilience was. Eshkol was something of a ‘yekke’ in his outstanding command of details regarding Israel’s military readiness and economic consumption. His hard work translated into an uncompromising drive for national excellence. His calmness and capacity for strategic thinking – characteristics that looked like hesitancy to many – proved in retrospect to be vital for surviving the nerve-racking period before the victory of the Six Day War. He also had the quiet daring and determination to break our diplomatic isolation and deepen Israel’s legitimacy in the international arena.”

“Eshkol was not only a party man. From the moment he was elected prime minister he was the leader of all Israel. When I say leader, I mean it in the fullest sense of the world: a man with the power to imagine a different reality, a better reality than the current one, and the skill to make it happen. That was Eshkol.”

The president noted Eshkol’s decision to sign a government decision to bring the remains of  Ze’ev Jabotinsky to Israel. “This was first and crucial step in accepting Herut as a legitimate political movement in Israel. And then came the second dramatic step that Eshkol took as prime minister,” noted the president. “Eshkol, who understood that Herut was a legitimate part of the country, was wise enough to agree to the inclusion of the party led by Begin into the government of national unity on the eve of war.”

At the end of his remarks, the president said “In these highly charged days, I urge you all to follow in Eshkol’s footsteps: the way of reconciliation and acceptance, seeing the other as a legitimate partner for common political action, not as the enemy within to be fought. May the memory of Israel’s third prime minister, Levi Eshkol, be a blessing. And may his soul be bound in the bond of life and in the heart of the nation.”

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