Yael Dayan: The woman of freedom and peace

Yael Dayan. Wikipedia, hanay

Yesterday (Saturday), Yael Dayan, a Knesset member and a prominent public figure in Israel passed away. Dayan was one of the most prominent voices in the political left-wing camp, and during her career she worked hard to promote values of liberalism, equality, peace, and social Justice within Israeli society.

The story of Dayan, who was born in Nahalal in 1939, begins with her father, Moshe Dayan, then a prominent young officer in the Palmach, and later Chief of Staff, Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and one of the dominant personalities in Israeli culture and public arena in the 50s until his death in 1981. Yael was very close to her father and accompanied him at many stations in his life; at the same time, she served in the army and reached the position of captain.

But Yael’s values and ideas were quite different from her father’s, and in the 80s she became prominent in the peace movements that began to flourish against the background of the war in Lebanon and the situation in Judea and Samaria. In 1992, Dayan was elected to the Knesset on behalf of the Labor Party, as part of the great victory of Yitzhak Rabin; under Rabin, Dayan established the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, and was elected chairman of the committee, a position in which she served intermittently for a decade.

In her role, Dayan worked hard to prevent discrimination based on sex, or sexual orientation, and was one of the most prominent advocates of the LGBT community. The peak of its activity was in 1998, when it passed the Sexual Harassment Prevention Law in the Knesset, which until then had not been defined by law. In addition, Dayan was an active partner in the peace process that began in that decade with the Palestinians.

Dayan then turned to local politics, leading the Meretz faction in the elections to the Tel Aviv City Council, and served as deputy mayor for several years. In 2022, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ministry of Social Equality, and died yesterday at the age of 85 after a serious illness. Dayan left behind two children (her husband Dov Sheon died more than 20 years ago).

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