“Rehavam Ze’evi’s merits and achievements cannot be erased,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday, October 25, at a Knesset session in memory of the former tourism minister, killed by Palestinians in 2001. Netanyahu and others spoke to a mostly empty plenum, with only half the coalition and just a handful of opposition members present. The Joint List and Meretz boycotted the session.
Ze’evi’s racist views and behavior were always controversial – he advocated “transfer,” paying Palestinians to leave their homeland – but a posthumous news report from 2016 in which women accused him of assault and rape overshadowed his memorial both a year ago and the one held this week.
Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) plans to bring a bill to a vote on Wednesday that would cancel the annual state memorials to Ze’evi. Touma-Sliman’s bill points to “testimony about Rehavam Ze’evi’s involvement in sexual assault, and rape… unjustified killing and abusing corpses. Ze’evi also had a racist worldview of transferring civilians. Therefore, his legacy is not worth memorializing, and this bill is meant to fix the mistake made by the Knesset in passing a law to commemorating him.”
Principals of all Tel Aviv schools have decided across-the-board not to mark the annual memorial for former general Ze’evi scheduled for Thursday. With their decision, the principals are defying the instructions of the Education Ministry which, since 2010, requires all schools to mark the day by dedicating a part of their classes to Ze’evi’s legacy.
The principals justified their decision based on various matters attributed to Ze’evi, such as violence against Arabs, his call for the expulsion of the Arab population, alleged ties with underworld figures and the sexual abuse and harassment of women.
Hundreds of parents also said they would not send their children to school on Thursday in protest of the memorial to Ze’evi. “Rehavam Ze’evi’s authentic legacy is the ideology of racism and ethnic cleansing and mass deportations of Palestinians. In addition his legacy includes friendly connections with convicted murderers,” states a Facebook page calling to boycott the memorial day. “The educational system must not turn the man, with his reprehensible actions as a soldier, citizen and politician into an example and model for students in Israel.”