Photograph of Moshe Dayan, c. 1950s
This photograph of Moshe Dayan was taken in the 1950s during his tenure as the IDF chief of staff. The Hebrew text under the photograph reads “Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan.”
Moshe Dayan’s most distinctive feature was his eyepatch. Dayan’s left eye was injured in a battle during the Syria-Lebanon Campaign in 1941, when he was shot by a French sniper while looking through his binoculars.
Moshe Dayan’s uniform, with its tie and double-breasted jacket, is quite different from the IDF uniform today. However, there are some similarities. On his left shoulder, his rank as chief of staff can be seen, a ranking system that has remained the same over the years. In addition, above his pocket, there is a campaign ribbon given to all soldiers who have participated in a war, which he may have received during the War of Independence. (Campaign ribbons are given instead of medals in Israel.)
Moshe Dayan had a long military history even before he began his career in the IDF. At the age of 14, he volunteered for the Haganah, a paramilitary force that operated during the time of the British Mandate. Later, he served as a guide in the British Army and then joined the Jewish Settlement Police, protecting Jewish settlements from Arab riots. During his Haganah activities, Dayan was arrested, along with 43 other Haganah members, for bearing illegal firearms and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was imprisoned in Acre Prison for two years, after which Chaim Weizmann, a prominent Zionist leader and later the president of the State of Israel, interceded, and the prisoners were released. After his release, Dayan joined the Palmach, the Haganah’s elite fighting force. In a joint effort with the Allies, the Palmach participated in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign of 1941. In 1948, he was appointed military commander of Jerusalem, later going on to be commander of the Southern and then the Northern Command. In 1953, at the age of 38, he became the IDF chief of staff.
Moshe Dayan later became involved in the political arena and held positions such as minister of agriculture, minister of defence, and minister of foreign affairs.
This photograph could be used by Jewish studies teachers when teaching about the IDF, perhaps in preparation for Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day). In addition, Politics or Civics teachers could use the photograph to talk about the complex personality of Dayan— a military man who went on to be a politician dedicated to pursuing peace.
What is most striking about Moshe Dayan’s appearance?
How does it make you feel?
This photograph is not dated.
Read Moshe Dayan’s biography and then try and guess when this photograph was taken.
Compare this photograph of Moshe Dayan as chief of staff to the official photograph of the current IDF chief of staff.
What is similar or different, and why?