Ezer Weizman

  • Issue: February 2006
  • Designer: Daniel Goldberg
  • Stamp Size: 30.8 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 630 (No phosphor bar)
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: offset

Ezer Weizman, the seventh president of the State of Israel, was born in Tel Aviv in 1924. His parents were Yehiel, who arrived in Eretz Yisrael in the Second Aliyah, and Judith nee Krichevsky, the native-born daughter of First Aliyah immigrants. Both families were Zionists committed to building up the country. His uncle, Chaim Weizmann, was the first president of the State of Israel.

Ezer grew up in Haifa and at age 18, at the height of World War 11, he volunteered for the Royal British Air Force. Completing a war pilot course in Rhodesia, he was posted to India, where he served until his release in 1946.

As an experienced pilot, he was asked to join the Israel Air Service, forerunner of the Israel Air Force, which he helped establish. He served as commander of the Negev Squadron during the War of Independence, taking part as a fighter pilot in air attacks on the Egyptian forces at the Ad Halom Bridge near Ashdod. Rising in the ranks, he became commander of the Air Force in 1958. During the following eight years under his command, the Air Force underwent expansion and reinforcement, which prepared it for one of its greatest achievements - the destruction of the air forces of the Arab countries during the Six-Day War of 1967. During this war, and in the subsequent War of Attrition, Weizman served as head of operations in the General Staff. He retired from the Israel Defense Forces in 1969. That year he was appointed Minister of Transportation representing the Gahal (Herut-Liberal Bloc) Party in the government headed by Prime Minister Golda Meir. During this period, his son Shaul was wounded at the Suez Canal.

Upon the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War (1973), Weizman was drafted as a reservist to serve in the General Staff under Chief of Staff David Elazar. In 1977, he headed the Herut Party election campaign for the ninth Knesset. This historic election, termed the "reversal", marked the first-time defeat of the ruling Labor Party, and its replacement by a government-headed by Menahem Begin, leader of the Herut Party. Weizman, appointed Minister of Defense by Begin, headed the Israeli delegation to the peace talks in Cairo and played a central role in the signing of the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab country - Egypt.

Weizman's political views underwent significant changes. A member of the pre-state right-wing Etzel underground during his youth, and a supporter of "Greater Israel" holding pronounced hawkish views, he changed course and became a leading advocate of the peace process and of the need for territorial compromise.

In the run-up to the 11th Knesset elections in 1984, he formed the Yahad Party, which gained three seats in the Knesset and tipped the scales in favor of the establishment of a unity government based on a rotation plan between the leaders of the two major or Knesset blocs - Likud and Labor. Weizman, named Minister without Portfolio after the elections, served in the inner cabinet. In 1986, with the implementation of the rotation, he led Yahad into the Labor camp, and in 1988 became Minister of Science and Technology, serving until the breakup of the unity government. From 1990, he was an opposition backĀ­bencher in the Knesset until retiring from politics in 1992.

However, in March 1993 Ezer Weizman was appointed President of the State of Israel at a time of tumultuous change in the country. Side by side with progress in the peace process, and the signing of a peace agreement with Jordan, fighting in Lebanon intensified. The peace process came to a halt and terrorism mounted. The population paid a heavy price in lives lost. President Weizman made a point of paying condolence visits to every bereaved family and visits to the wounded in hospitals throughout the country to reinforce morale. A hands-on president, he did not hesitate to express his views, laying special emphasis on the importance of advancing the peace process. The President's Residence was open to every citizen, and President Weizman met with the entire spectrum of the Israeli public: residents of the development towns, new immigrants, members of the minority groups, factory Workers, people he encountered while on tour or even while stopping at a traffic light, engaging them in personal discussions. Approachable and down to earth, he symbolized the reborn "sabra" Israel. He was a president who loved and was loved by the people.

Ezer Weizman died on April 24, 2005, and was buried in Or-Akiva near the grave of his son Shaul and daughter-in-law Rachel.

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Ezer Weizman