Did you know that Israel has a Gandhi of her own?
Rehavam Ze’evi, nicknamed Gandhi for his striking resemblance to the Indian leader, was an Israeli general, war hero, and politician who played a large role in Israeli history.
Ze’evi was born in Jerusalem and joined the Haganah youth program at a young age; he continued to draft into the Palmah as a lead officer. The Palmah was the underground elite paramilitary unit under the British Mandate in the 1940s.
Ze’evi served in the IDF for over 26 years, where he climbed the ranks reaching the level of Aluf, similar to General or Admiral! He participated in many of the challenging wars that shaped the nation of Israel into what it is today, including the War of Independence, Mivtza Kadesh, the Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, and countless missions and operations. He initially retired from the army in October 1973 but returned just five days later when the Yom Kippur War broke out, to serve as the Chief of Staff’s special assistant and advisor.
As one of Israel’s most loyal supporters, Ze’evi wasn’t finished once he left the Israel Defense Forces; in 1988 he entered the political scene in Menahem Begin’s government. He established the Moledet party, one of Israel’s right-wing political parties, and served as its chairman until the day he died. He served as Deputy to the Knesset Chairman and as the Minister of Tourism.
On October 17th, 2001, Ze’evi was staying at the Hayet Hotel in Jerusalem. At 6:50 in the morning, while returning to his room from the dining hall, Ze’evi was tragically murdered in a terrorist attack, unprotected, as he refused to have bodyguards. He was buried on Mount Herzl and remembered as a true Israeli hero.
As you walk around the streets throughout Israel, you will come across many streets named after him and monuments erected in his honor.