Born on the first kibbutz in future Israel, Dayan was raised on the first “moshav,” or farming cooperative, and joined the Jewish defense force, Haganah, at the age of 14. There he was mentored by the pro-Zionist British intelligence officer Orde Wingate. In 1941, while participating in the infiltration of Vichy occupied Lebanon, Dayan lost his left eye when a French sniper shot the binoculars he was using. Despite his injury, Dayan continued his military career, joined Haganah’s General Staff in 1947 and served, at the insistence of David Ben-Gurion, as military commander of the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem in 1948.
As Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from 1953-1958, Dayan directed the 1956 Sinai campaign against Egypt. In 1959, he retired from the military, joined Ben-Gurion’s Mapai party and, until 1964, served as minister of agriculture, in which capacity he penned our letter. The following year, he joined Ben-Gurion in leaving the center-left Mapai party to form the Rafi party, which later merged with Israel’s Labor Party.
Despite his differences with Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Dayan was appointed defense minister and his prestige was enhanced by Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. However, Dayan was accused of a lack of preparedness in the October War six years later. He resigned as defense minister, along with Prime Minister Golda Meir, in May 1974. As foreign minister under Menachem Begin, he was instrumental in negotiating the Camp David Accords, the historic 1978 peace agreement with Egypt. During his eventful military and political careers, Dayan earned a reputation as a canny military tactician, a sometimes-controversial politician and a living icon of Israel’s military.
Lightly folded and creased with minor staining and wear; in very good condition.