[ Ed. note – Rehavam Ze’evi was an Israeli general who supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and was assassinated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 2001. ]
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Israel, a country founded on violence, mass expulsion and racism, has elevated a violent sexual predator and mafia associate to its national pantheon…
By Richard Silverstein
SEATTLE — Adored by multitudes of Israelis for his battlefield heroism and love of the land of Israel, Rehavam Zeevi is now being portrayed as a hero with feet of clay, if not baser material.
Israel’s leading news magazine, “Uvdah,” recently aired a segment (Hebrew) that explores the darker side of the legacy of the Israeli general and cabinet minister who was assassinated by Palestinian gunmen in 2001. The program identified five women who served under his command in the 1970s, who accuse him of rape and attempted rape.
One of Zeevi’s friends recounted to “Uvdah” a conversation in which the general said: “There are three things I was made to do in life: fighting, fucking and eating.”
The news comes as a shock to the average Israeli, for whom Zeevi’s name conjures notions of courage and selflessness, not sexual predation.
As those who follow Israeli sexual politics know, women have only recently started to come forward in substantial numbers to report sexual harassment, abuse or rape. With the imprisonment of former President Moshe Katzav in 2011 on rape charges, the tide has begun to turn. And though a decade ago it would have been almost unheard of for a woman to file a complaint against a member of the elite, including members of the military and intelligence agencies, that is no longer the case.
In the 1970s many women may have been flattered by the attention offered to them by as colorful and legendary a figure as Zeevi. Songs were written boasting of his prowess. He dined with celebrities. He was the height of Israeli glamour and manliness. Victims of his apparently violent nature toward women would’ve had virtually no recourse to military authorities.
Born in Jerusalem in 1926 and raised on a collective farm, Zeevi began his military career in 1942, serving in the elite Palmach force. He participated in the infamous Operation Dani, which led to the expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of central Israel, primarily around Lod. After the war, he continued with his military service and became a commander.