1915 - 1981
Military leader during the Six Day Warby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Moshe Dayan, a geat military leader during the Six Day War, yet is that how he is remembered? He won a war in six days. It is believed that he won the war because he followed what God told the Israelites to do in the Old Testament.1 He knew other great men of his time. In his life, Moshe Dayan did many great things. Only once during his career did he make a huge mistake. Many people attribute his success to God protecting His people. Moshe never mentioned anything like that. Can God truly use someone without that person even being aware of it?
Moshe Dayan, also known as Moshe Dyan, was born on May 20, 1915. His name in Hebrew means "Moses (the) Judge." Unlike the other famous people of his time, David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, Moshe was born fairly close to Jerusalem, in Degania, south of the Sea of Galilee. He attended the Hebrew University and there he studied science.2
When he was a child, he served as a guard in the village fields. At age 14, Moshe joined the Hagannah, a secret organization. Hagannah had been formed in Palestine in order to protect the Jews. There Moshe was greatly influenced by the military teachings of the English pro Zionist officer Orde Wingate.3 He served in the SNS, Orde Wingate's Special Night Squad. From Captain Charles Orde Wingate he learned guerilla warfare. During the riots in the years of 1936-1939, Moshe served with the special police in the Jezreel Valley and in Galilee.
When Moshe was 24, in 1939, the British decided the Hagannah was nothing more than a terrorist group that could undermine their rule in that region. Because of this, known members of the association were arrested, a fate that included Moshe as well as 424 others that are known. He was also arrested for possessing illegal weapons.5 Moshe was sentenced to 10 years in prison, however, he was released in 1941 because of Hagannah's renewed cooperation with the British.
World War Two
Upon his release, Moshe joined the British army and fought in Syria, where he lost his left eye. Because of the recommendation of one of his superior officers, Moshe received the "Distinguished Service Order," one of the British's highest military honors.6 After Moshe lost his eye, he cooperated with the British intelligence and set up a broadcasting network for secret operations behind the enemy lines in case Palestine fell to the Germans. Around the same time that Moshe lost his eye, he met and became influenced by David Ben-Gurion.
Moshe Dayan remained active in the Hagannah until 1948 when he then became involved in the war for Israel's independence. Moshe began serving in the 1948 War of Independence by commanding the defense of Jewish communities in the Jordan Valley. Then, in May 1948 Israel became a country once again for the first time since 70 A.D.. During this time, Moshe came to know David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister, very well. David Ben-Gurion like Moshe a lot and Moshe became his protégé, along with Shimon Peres-a future Prime Minister. After the War of Independence, Moshe began to rise very rapidly through the ranks.
Israel was attacked by neighboring Arab countries almost immediately after Israel became a country once more. Moshe was appointed commander on the Jerusalem front in August of 1948. During this time Moshe put into practice all he had learned when he fought in World War Two. He aided General Yigael Yadin in repelling the attacks against Israel. The Arab attacks were a failure. Moshe attained fame and recognition with his country at only 33. A camera-friendly man, pictures of Moshe became quite common.
Moshe Dayan wanted there to be peace between the Arabs and Jews. Since Moshe had become a high and well known leader, during the years of 1949-1950 Moshe was one of the leaders who had a part of clandestine meetings with King Abdullah of Jordan. This king was one of the most influential Arabs in that region and his contribution and assistance was critical if that area was ever to become peaceful. However, Moshe proved to be a tough negotiator in these meetings and he refused to compromise. Because of that, nothing came out of those meetings that would lead to stability.
Regardless of the military truce in 1949, the neighboring Arab nations continued to be hostile. They maintained a marine blockade, reinforcing an economic boycott, promoting political and propaganda warfare as well as supporting any terrorism in Israel. The Israeli government was not able to restrain the terrorist violence. Moshe Dayan insisted on strong retaliation procedures. He saw the terrorism as an Arab stage of war, and he realized that the longer the terrorist attacks happened, the longer the Arabs would have to build up their military strength. Moshe wanted to drive the Arabs into open battle before they had time to gain full military power. Moshe commanded the Israeli forces successfully throughout the Sinai Campaign of 1956.
Partly because he was a friend of David Ben-Gurion and partly because of his military expertise, in 1953 when Moshe was only 38, he was appointed Chief of Staff. Moshe had this position until 1958 and then at that time Moshe ended his service in that area himself. Moshe then entered politics. He enrolled in Israel's Labor Party, Mapai. In the fall of 1959 he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Mapai party. He became a minister of agriculture in David Ben-Gurion's government from 1959 until 1964. At that time Moshe resigned as Minister of Agriculture because of an argument with Levi Eshkol, the new Prime Minister. Moshe then joined David Ben-Gurion in forming a new party they called Rafi, also known as Alliance of Israel's Workers. However, Moshe did not stay out of the government for very long. Only a year later, Moshe was reelected as the Knesset representing Rafi.
The Six Day War7
The Six Day War was fought because the Israelis sought to counter what they saw as an impending attack by the Arab nations which surrounded Israel. Moshe Dayan initiated the Six Day War. This war was fought between June 5th and June 10th. The war was fought against Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. The people of Israel believed that it could only be a matter of time before those three Arab states aligned and coordinated a massive attack against Israel.
A few days before the Six Day War, Levi Eshkol bowed to public pressure and named Moshe Minister of Defense. On Monday, June 5, 1967, Israel attacked the Arabs. Moshe advanced his troops from Nuweiba to Suez City in six days. It is believed by some that the same crossing spot that Moshe used to cross the Red Sea, was the same spot that Moses and the Israelites crossed on dry ground when they were fleeing Egypt. At night the troops camped. Moshe's soldiers were told to bring and eat only unleavened bread for seven days, which indicated that they would be traveling quite fast and so would not have time to camp for seven days. In Exodus 13: 6, 8 it says, "For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'"
The Six Day War was extremely successful. Egypt, Jordan, "Syria, and Iraq all had almost their entire air force destroyed. By one June 7th, numerous Egyptian tanks had been destroyed in the Sinai Desert and the Israeli forces had reached the Suez Canal. That same day the Jordan River was cleared of all the Jordanian forces. The Golan Heights were capture by Israel away Syria and the Israeli forces moved 30 miles into Syria. Because of Six Day War was such a success, Moshe held the position of Minister of Defense until 1974.
All in all, the war was a disaster for the whole Arab world and temporarily weakened the man who was looked upon as the leader of the Arabs, Gamal Abdul Masser. Not only was the war a disaster for the Arab military, but it also destroyed the Arabs morale because four of the strongest Arab nations were systematically defeated by only one nation.
Yom Kippur War8
This war is known as the Yom Kippur War because it was on the day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest day of prayer and fasting in the Jewish calendar. It was that the Arabs launched a surprise attack against Israel. This war is also called the October War.
Because of the great success in which Israel defeated her enemies, it caused Moshe Dayan to become overly confident in his and Israel's ability to fight and win against anyone. Just hours preceding the attack by the Arabs, Moshe decided not to carry out a full mobilization or to carry out a strike against the Egyptians and Syrians. He assumed that Israel would be able to easily win even if the Arabs dared to attack. Moshe did not want Israel to appear as the aggressor.
On October 6, 1973 the Arabs of Egypt and Syria attacked Israel, knowing that Israel would not be prepared because it was a national holy day. Because of that, Israel's guard would be temporarily dropped. When the surprised Israelis realized what had happened, they tried to organize an adequate defense. However, the Arabs far outnumbered the Israelis. On the Golan Heights, 150 Israeli tanks face 1.400 Syrian tanks and in the Suez region only 500 Israeli soldiers fought 80,000 Egyptian soldiers. Other Arab nations helped Egypt and Syria in their attack against Israel.
The Israeli forces were swiftly overwhelmed initially. It did not look at all good for the Israelis. Yet, on October 8, Israeli forces, strengthen and encouraged by the arrival of reserves, counter attacked in Sinai. There they pushed back the Egyptian military. In fact, the Israeli forces pushed the Egyptians back so far, that they got within 65 miles of Egypt's capital. With the battle against the Syrian forces, the Israelis had a similar success. They pushed back the Syrians to within 35 miles of the Syrian capital.
On October 22 a cease-fire was declared. Even though Israel had come out on top in the end, the Israeli public's confidence had still been severely shaken because of the surprise attack. Israel had not been at all prepared for an attack and so had not been able to repulse it immediately. Because of that, the nation blamed Moshe Dayan, since he was the Minister of Defense. Moshe was forced to resign from that position in disgrace.
The Beginning of the End
Moshe Dayan did not want to have his career end marked by what happened during the Yom Kippur War and so in 1977 Menachem Begin, the newly elected Prime Minister, decided to give Moshe a chance to make up for his mistake by offering him the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs. Moshe accepted because he believed that he could significantly influence Israel towards achieving a peace treaty with the Arabs.
In May 1977 Moshe began to negotiate with Egypt. Moshe was the lead negotiator. He started with the premise of receiving the Arab's acceptance of Israel's rule over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. If they did that, then Moshe would give Sinai back to Egypt. Moshe worked tirelessly for 18 months, trying to get the treaty signed by the Arabs. He had help from America's president as well as Jimmy Carter. Finally, on Sunday, September 17, 1978 the peace treaty, the Camp David Accords, was drawn up and signed.
In 1979 Moshe Dayan resigned as the Foreign Minister. Moshe and Menachem Begin had disagreed about building settlements in different territories and Moshe became frustrated by the fact that he was not leading the talks with the Palestinians. Moshe also felt that he was being progressively more bypassed on foreign policy issues. In 1981 he formed the Telem party, which advocated independent disengagement from the territories that had been occupied in 1967. This party received only two mandates in elections.
Moshe Dayan's Death
On May 14, 1979 Moshe was diagnosed with colon cancer. There was nothing anyone, save God, could do. Moshe died on October 16, 1981. He left behind a legacy of military brilliance, as well as one terrible mistake. During his life Moshe Dayan wrote four books: Diary of the Sinai Campaign (1966), Mappah Hadasha-Yahasim Aherim (1969 on the problems after the Six Day War), Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life (1976), and Breakthrough: A Personal Account of the Egypt-Israel Peace Megotiations (1981).
God says in Isaiah 10: 21-22 "A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous." God promises here that though Israel will suffer destruction, a remnant will always remain. Throughout history Israel has enemies coming against her on all sides, sometimes she has defeated them and sometimes she has not. No matter how many times nations have come against her and tried to destroy her, a remnant always remains. The fulfillment of that promise is shown when many times many Arab nations came against Israel. Through overwhelming odds against them, the Israelis still won and were not totally wiped out.
The Arabs descend from Abraham's son Ishmael. Because he became impatient waiting for God to fulfill His promise about giving Abraham a son, Abraham slept with his wife's handmaiden, Hagar. Hagar had Ishmael. An angel of God told Hagar while she was still pregnant this in Genesis 16:11-12, ". . . . You shall name him Ishmael. . . . He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." Ishmael's brother was Isaac, through whom the Israelites descended. Today, people can see the fulfillment of God's prophecy. The Arabs live in hostility toward the Israelis and every chance they get they try to destroy the Israelis.
Exodus 34:11-12 says, "Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you." Joshua 17:12-13 says, "Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely." In Exodus God warns them that if they do not drive all the nations out of the Promised Land, then those nations will become "a snare among you." However, in Joshua it says that while they did beat the people, they did not drive them out. Ever since then Israel has had to fight for her life.
Moshe Dayan spent his whole military career fighting back the attacks of the surrounding Arab nations. God used him to protect His people. Many people believe that unless someone is willing, God cannot or will not use that person. While it is true that everyone has free will, God uses the decisions people make. Exodus 4:21 says, "The Lord said to Moses, 'When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go." Exodus 14:4 says, "And I will harden Pharoah's heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharoah and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.'" These two passages show two different people, both used by God. One was willing and the other was not.
God uses all men and women for His plan and purpose. If God uses people who are not willing, how much more will He do through those who are willing? God did something mighty and powerful for the nation of Israel through Moshe Dayan. If Moshe had been listening, wanting, and seeking to do God's will, how much of the history of Israel during Moshe's life and afterward be changed? Are you willing?
up4JewishAgency.org/JewishAgency/English/Home. "Moshe Dyan." World History. < http://www.jewishagency.org/JewishAgency/English/Jewish%2BEducation/Compelling%2BContent/Eye%2Bon%2BIsrael/Gallery%2Bof%2BPeople%2B(Biographies)/Moshe%2BDayan.htm> 6 Dec. 2007