In Memory of Ezer Weizman

Address by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon April 26, 2005 Ezer, we are accompanying you today on your final path, but your legacy will always be remembered. Generations of pilots, soldiers and youngsters will be taught the story of your life – the story of the Land of Israel. We will keep hearing your voice expressing faith and confidence in Israel’s future – not voices of despair or grief, but ones of unshakable hope. We have made a long journey together. Here among us are your friends. We walked with you in battle, dreaming of other days. We have seen the horrors and fears of wars, accompanied comrades who fell in battle, suffered tormenting pain in hospitals, made decisions involving the life and death of ourselves and others – all this in order to live here in peace and security. Ezer my friend, you have always believed in Israel’s strength and talents and in the courage of its citizens. You were a fierce opponent of any display of weakness. Even in times of anguish and mourning you were enraged by those who lacked faith. In was by no coincidence that you were a leader in the path of peace. This is how it should have been, because you, as a son of the founding generation, saw that generation, our fledgling state. You remembered the riots and massacres of the Jews, as well as the White Paper, which prevented the rescue of many of the Jews of Europe from the Nazis and their accomplices. You served as an aviator in the British Air Force, were one of the first members of the Israeli Air Force, the Commander of the Air Force and Head of the IDF Operations Division. You witnessed the great victories and horrific defeats during the War of Independence, the embargo on Israel, the political struggles, the pressures exerted on Israel, and Israel’s perseverance. You saw the massive immigration waves, the remarkable technological achievements, and more. Only those who have seen all these can understand the threats against Israel, as well as the great hopes. And there was another Ezer, the Ezer of mischief, of a bottle of drink, of laughter. The Ezer who injected a special spirit into the Air Force: “The Best Join the Air Force” and the continuation of that saying, and the atmosphere and vitality in the air force bases, the pride of the corps and the self-confidence which grew increasingly stronger, the thoughts and operational ideas which materialized and the commanders who emerged and grew. And there was Ezer of the family – Reuma, Shauli, Michal and their household. You never recovered from the death of your son, Shauli, a paratrooper who was severely injured in the head during the War of Attrition and killed in a road accident, together with his wife, Racheli, a few years later. It was a pain which never subsided. And so many pictures. One picture I cannot forget – on the eve of the Six Day War, I was with my division in the Shivta area of the Negev, when a helicopter landed. You came down with one special request: David, your sister Yael’s son, a cadet in an armored officers course, was serving in my division and you wanted to see him before he went to battle. I could see that you were excited. Yael, who had lived in Britain for many years, away from her family, returned to Israel with her family, at your encouragement. Her son David enlisted in the IDF Armored Corps. Shortly before the war broke out, you wanted to give him a gun you had received as a gift from your father, David’s grandfather. Suddenly, when I looked at you, you seemed so human. And another picture – you and I were flying on a helicopter to Samaria. You suggested that we visit my mother’s farm in Kfar Malal. I located the orchard and we suddenly spotted her – she was then in her 80s, wearing a Stetson, carrying a sprayer on her back, and spraying the orchard. The helicopter flew lower, we were almost touching the treetops and you were excited. So excited. A feeling for the land, for the plantation, suddenly awoke in you. And there were pictures from the War of Attrition and from battles and from times of disagreement. We made a long and memorable journey together. I extend a friendly and loving handshake to Reuma, Michal and all the family. Ezer, we will always remember you. BPI-info