Moshe Dayan: A Life in Pictures

To mark 40 years since the passing of Moshe Dayan, one of the most iconic and photogenic figures in Israel's history, we dove into the National Library collections and selected a handful of pictures that captured both historic and personal moments in his eventful life

Tamar Lewinsohn
17.10.2021

No deep dive into the dark recesses of the archives was required here.

Moshe Dayan was a star attraction for Israel’s leading photographers during the early years of Jewish statehood. In fact, narrowing down the selection of photographs presented here was no easy feat. Dayan had always been drawn to the cameras, and the cameras were drawn to him.

Among the photographers who frequently shot the young IDF Chief of Staff was Benno Rothenberg, a colorful figure in his own right and a prominent professional cameraman in Israel who shared Dayan’s love of archaeology. Shortly before his death, Rothenberg deposited his 50,000 photographs in the trusty hands of collector Zvi Meitar, as did two other leading photographers – Boris Carmi and Moshe Levin. The digitization of these collections has recently been completed, in cooperation with the Zvi and Ofra Meitar Family Fund. The photos are now available online on the National Library of Israel website.

It is also worth mentioning the work of photographer Dan Hadani. From 1965 and until the year 2000, Hadani managed the Israel Press and Photo Agency (IPPA), documenting countless events in the history of the State of Israel: wars, elections, protests, social struggles, settlement projects, ceremonies, concerts, various cultural events and more – all together nearly a million frames. This collection was transferred to the National Library several years ago, with almost half a million images now accessible through the Library catalog.

In addition to the above, a number of unique, special photographs of Moshe Dayan were deposited at the National Library in 2017 as part of his son Assi Dayan’s personal archive. Several more photos come from the Bitmuna Collection and the Ben Zvi Institute Archive. All of these are made accessible on the National Library of Israel website as part of the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection.

Moshe Dayan, commander of the Jerusalem front, with members of a police unit on their way to Mt. Scopus, 1950, the Dan Hadani Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

Moshe Dayan preparing snowballs with commanders from the IDF’s 6th Brigade, Winter 1949, the Dan Hadani Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan speaks before residents of Yamit who were protesting the planned evacuation of the Sinai settlement as part of the peace agreement with Egypt. 1978, the Dan Hadani Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

Moshe Dayan, with Menachem Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter, following the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt, the Dan Hadani Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

The chuppa ceremony at the double wedding of Assi and Aharona Dayan and Yael Dayan and Dov Sion. David Ben-Gurion and Rabbi Shlomo Goren can be seen under the canopy. The Dan Hadani Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel.

 

Moshe Dayan reading with his son Assi. The Hebrew text on the back of the photograph reads: “An idyllic family evening. The officer becomes teacher to his young son Assaf”, 1955, the Assi Dayan Archive, the National Library of Israel.

 

Moshe, Ruth, Yael, Udi and Assi Dayan – a family photo taken after Moshe was appointed Chief of Staff, the caption naming the family members was written by Assi, the Assi Dayan Archive, the National Library of Israel

 

Moshe Dayan with Binyamin Zarhi and a Bedouin horseman at the Dead Sea, Zarhi was a classmate of Dayan’s. Photo from a family album prepared by Assi Dayan for his son Lior. The Assi Dayan Archive, the National Library of Israel.

 

Moshe Dayan as a child at Degania. Moshe is the child on the right. Nadav Man, Bitmuna. From the Shmuel Dayan Collection. Collection source: Zohar Betser, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel.

 

Haganah prisoners at Acre Prison, including Moshe Dayan at the head of the procession, 1939. Nadav Man, Bitmuna. From the Shmuel Dayan Collection. Collection source: Zohar Betser, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel.

 

New IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan at the home of David Ben-Gurion, 1953. Photo by Benno Rothenberg, the Meitar Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel.

 

A portrait of Moshe Dayan, the third IDF Chief of Staff, photo by Benno Rothenberg, the Meitar Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

Moshe Dayan at a ceremony for fallen soldiers, 1948, photo by Benno Rothenberg, the Meitar Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

Moshe Dayan at an archaeological dig, 1957, photo by Benno Rothenberg, the Meitar Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

Moshe Dayan at an archaeological dig, 1957, photo by Benno Rothenberg, the Meitar Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron following the Six-Day War (right to left: journalist Moshe Pearlman, Rehavam Ze’evi, Dayan, his chief of staff Mordechai Bar-On and Head of IDF Central Command Uzi Narkis), 1967. The Ben Zvi Institute, Archive Network Israel and the National Library of Israel.

 

Moshe Dayan and his wife Ruth with their eldest daughter Yael, Nahalal, 1939, the Ben Zvi Institute, Archive Network Israel and the National Library of Israel.

 

Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan with IDF officers in a rubber boat on the day the IDF withdrew from Sharm el-Sheikh in Sinai. Rehavam Ze’evi (on the right, holding a paddle), Shmuel Tankus, Moshe Dayan, Mordechai Bar-On and Uzi Narkis, 1957. The Ben Zvi Institute, Archive Network Israel and the National Library of Israel.

 

David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan at Rafi party headquarters, 1966, photo by Boris Carmi, the Meitar Collection, the Pritzker Family National Photography Collection at the National Library of Israel

 

Matan Barzilai, head of the Archives Department at the National Library of Israel, took part in the preparation of this article.

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