YAEL DAYAN 1939-2024

At 0815 hours on 5 June [1967] we gambled all we had. What for other countries would have been defeat, for us would mean extermination. It was not possible for us to lose the war and survive and each man carried this knowledge in his heart when we moved west.

Yael Dayan wrote Israel Journal: June 1967 in two weeks, in the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War. She wrote it in English. To this day, I would put it in the top fifty books ever written on war.

Yael Dayan

Ms. Dayan was the daughter of Moshe Dayan, who as Army chief of staff and later Minister of Defense, saved the fledgling nation of Israel twice (in the ’56 Sinai Campaign against Egypt and the Six Day War of 1967 against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan), as well as nearly losing everything in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Yael’s father, Moshe Dayan

Yael had become something of a celebrity herself, at age twenty-eight, as a novelist and journalist. She was in Athens in June ’67 when Egypt’s president, Gamal Abdul Nasser, sent a thousand tanks and 100,000 men to Israel’s southern border, vowing to wipe out the Jewish state. Ms. Dayan was then a segen mishne, a second lieutenant, in the Israel Defense Forces. She returned at once and was assigned as a correspondent to the armored division under General Arik Sharon (later Prime Minister) on the Egyptian frontier.

Whatever side you may find yourself on in the current Gaza War, I highly recommend Ms. Dayan’s account of her experiences over those fatal next few days. Israel Journal: June 1967 provides the deep context—historical and political—that seems missing in so much of today’s press coverage. It’s a short read, packed with vivid characters and insights. 

I should add that, whatever literary style I myself may possess, I stole wholesale from Yael Dayan.   

Ms. Dayan was a lifelong and passionate supporter of the idea of a Palestinian state. She was the first member of the Knesset to meet with Yasser Arafat. She was much criticized, even vilified, for these acts, which she stood by all her life. Neither stopped her from being a fierce patriot for the state of Israel.

Yael Dayan

I interviewed her in 2012 in her office at the City of Tel Aviv for my own book, The Lion’s Gate. I had read all her stuff and was wildly psyched to get her first-person takes on certain incidents and personalities. But to every one of my questions, she answered, “It’s in my book.” I couldn’t get anything more out of her. Finally I said, “Do I have your permission then to paraphrase from your books as if you had answered in-person in this interview?”

“Go ahead,” she said. “I hope you’ll make the stories better.”

I tried, but I couldn’t top her. She was a great one. Yael Dayan. “We will not see her like again.”


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  1. Howard B Sweeney on June 12, 2024 at 2:07 am

    I had the great pleasure of meeting Moshe Dyan in Denver during one of his trips to the U.S. He was an extraordinary leader and imposing presence. I am not at all surprised to now learn that his daughter Yael, was no less extraordinary in her own right.

  2. Joe Badalamente on June 12, 2024 at 2:15 am

    Thank you.

  3. Philip E. on June 12, 2024 at 2:22 am

    Can’t people just for once use their head? Why invade all the time? Why raise your voice in what you know is inevitable?

  4. Tolis on June 12, 2024 at 2:27 am

    Thank you so much dear Steve. I got the kindle.

    War is delightfuly chopping trees as if they preserve no lives, without ever looking at the whole forest

    Forests come and go, but the laws of cause and effect of all present are inevitable

    Our every action towards a peaceful and wonderous and objective future is the greatest war against war, for it has no weapons and thus it can’t ignite even more that self-empowering flaw of nature (war), but yet it can rot it from it’s insides. If the gathering of our actions will succeed (and I believe they will because through development we erase the darkness of man and woman day by day), war will die. If not, it will linger forever, like it does in the whole nature, in this planet and all the next ones. And the mindless shall be proud.

    • Kathy on June 12, 2024 at 4:58 am

      Thank you dear Tolis, for such a tender, thought provoking piece.. you touched me deeply. 🍃🌸🍃

  5. Julio Baptista Barroco on June 12, 2024 at 2:51 am

    May the beauty of this tribute give aided power to peace in the minds, hearts and acts of everybody, no matter the paths for it.

  6. Lucy on June 12, 2024 at 2:53 am

    Delighted to hear she was in favour of a Palestinian state. Thanks for sharing – I knew nothing about her. I read Laila Parson’s brilliant The Commander. I went to university with Laila and she was and is a fantastic scholar. For a balanced view on the continuing tensions in the Middle East, I would highly recommend this. I will also read Yael Dayan now. There is no perfect balance, no perfect solution, there are only imperfect humans, some of whom are doing their best to create peace, in themselves, and in the world. Isn’t that the story of The Gita? Thank you, again, for these fascinating pieces, Steve. And given we’ve just had highly divisive elections here in Europe, Up the Greens! And Up the Middle Way!

  7. monkey mart on June 12, 2024 at 3:10 am

    Just pure brilliance from you here. I have never expected something less than this from you and you have not disappointed me at all. I suppose you will keep the quality work going on.

    • Jan on June 12, 2024 at 6:53 am

      Thank you Steve for bringing my attention to this talented and courageous writer. Kinda reminds me of you.

  8. Jack V. on June 12, 2024 at 4:10 am

    What a beautiful tribute, Steven. Very touching!

  9. Kathy on June 12, 2024 at 5:01 am

    Thank you Mr. Pressfield.

  10. Kris on June 12, 2024 at 5:31 am

    Just downloaded the book on kindle. I’m looking forward to reading about war from the perspective of a female officer from a generation ago, made more intriguing by the backdrop of current events. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. Chuck DeBettignies on June 12, 2024 at 5:55 am

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and professional source of inspiration.
    Like one torch lights another, her light/fire shines on.

  12. David Moe on June 12, 2024 at 6:08 am

    It’s a refreshing reminder, seeing your acknowledgment of a person who inspired you. She sounds like someone I’d like to know. Maybe she will show up as character in a future tale…

  13. Wade on June 12, 2024 at 6:39 am

    WOW! What an honor talking to her.
    Good job and thank you for sharing.

  14. Penn Moody on June 12, 2024 at 7:36 am

    Thank you, Steven…
    I just purchased the book for my Kindle; looking forward to reading it.

  15. Fernando Bérdi on June 12, 2024 at 8:38 am

    Extraordinário o seu (“nosso”),’The Lion’s Gate’. Li e reli algumas vezes desde o lançamento, num só fôlego. Você nos coloca na ação como nenhum outro narrador. D,’us tem reservado um local sagrado para almas como Yael Dayan, e, desde sempre, à todos os nossos heróis. Obrigado Steven👏👏👏

  16. Brad Graft on June 12, 2024 at 12:16 pm

    Rest in peace, Yael Dayan. A wonderful tribute, indeed, Steve. I also just ordered her journal in hardcover.

    Another tribute to Yael would be reading Steve’s “The Lion’s Gate.” A sensational book that captures the people, time and events.

    • Joe on June 19, 2024 at 3:30 am


  17. Jackie on June 12, 2024 at 12:43 pm

    I thouroughly enjoyed reading and was enlightened by “The Lion’s Gate”. I look forward to reading Yael’s book.

  18. Sean Crawford on June 12, 2024 at 7:45 pm

    I read her book as a boy. As soon as I saw her name I remembered.
    No surprise to me that she believed in a Palestine state. In our age of orthodox and settlements, we forget that the “Establishment,” in her time of hippies, would include many who had grown up among Arabs.

    I remember the armoured forces being stopped, prevented from going far into Egypt. I believe now that they were held back not for military reasons but for political: To make a peace treaty easier, so that Arab machismo-types would not be so offended at losing so much to Israel. The forces must always be subordinate to civil concerns.

  19. jfridgley on June 13, 2024 at 12:19 pm

    God protect Israel. And that 6day war was God’s work. May He do that again.
    Love the article. Thank you

  20. Nick Shanagher on June 14, 2024 at 1:35 am

    Priceless. Thank you for shariing.

  21. jayleyjack on June 14, 2024 at 5:34 am

    renowned for her literary contributions and political career advocating for peace and women’s rights. Professional professional assignmenthelp.sg services are often sought for such biographical works. Notably, key academic areas like Kent Ridge in Singapore host prestigious institutions for related studies

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  23. Olha on June 17, 2024 at 7:39 am

    Yael Dayan’s remarkable contributions are a source of inspiration, reflecting her dedication to impactful change. While her legacy continues to inspire, those looking towards new horizons might consider the exciting opportunities in Dubai off plan projects. These developments offer modern, innovative spaces that align with the spirit of growth and progress, much like the transformative impact Dayan had in her fields.

  24. Rose Black on July 10, 2024 at 9:48 pm

    This passage reflects a fascinating blend of personal memoir Death By AI and historical commentary, showcasing Yael Dayan’s remarkable journey as both a journalist and military figure during a critical period in Israeli history.

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