Haaretz Investigation: Father of 'Transfer' Gets More Funding Than Father of Zionism

State spending millions to commemorate legacy of slain minister Rehavam Ze'evi.

The Prime Minister's Office is to allocate up to NIS 4.9 million this year for commemoration of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi - an extreme right-wing politician who was shot to death by Palestinian terrorists in 2001.

The funding joins NIS 2.5 million the PMO and the Tourism Ministry have already earmarked to commemorate Ze'evi in 2012 and 2013 in a project at the Sha'ar Hagai caravansary on the road to Jerusalem.

For comparison, commemoration for Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky, considered the ideological father of the Likud, is NIS 350,000 a year, as is funding for recognition of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl.

Over a year ago, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu ) promoted a bill in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to establish a heritage center about Ze'evi similar to those for former prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin.

The bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which ensured it the support of the coalition. However, the Finance Ministry appealed the committee's decision, calculating the direct cost of establishing the center at more than NIS 10 million, which it said is out of proportion to funding to commemorate other public figures.

After mediation by cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser between the treasury, the Ze'evi family and proponents of the bill it was decided that the bill would be retracted, but that funding for commemorating Ze'evi would be greatly increased.

According to the agreement, which started last year, the PMO will allocate between NIS 3 million and NIS 4.9 million every year. The PMO confirmed the figures. It also said that not all the allocated money was spent last year.

The Ze'evi family has worked energetically to commemorate Ze'evi, succeeding, together with the former minister's admirers, to enlist the Education Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces in activities paying tribute to him.

In kits paid for by the PMO and distributed to hundreds of schools, Ze'evi, who advocated the transfer of Arabs from Israel, is described as "a man of principles, an idealist, with varied sides to his personality, a warrior, a man of learning and an honest leader, fair, sharp and real."

In the kits, Ze'evi's idea of transfer is described as being "based on his longing for peace, together with the understanding of the demographic problem and the desire to live in a democratic country where there are not two kinds of citizens - lords and slaves."

Education Ministry Director General Shimshon Shoshani recommended the kit to teachers, he told Haaretz, because "on the issues about which I am knowledgeable, I admired Ghandi," he said, referring to Ze'evi by his nickname.

Ze'evi's son, Binyamin Ze'evi, who is ultra-Orthodox and a leader of the extreme right-wing group Shuvu Banim, is the moving force behind an association commemorating Ze'evi in Orthodox fashion, by disseminating prayers and supporting Orthodox Torah students.

Haaretz has discovered that Binyamin Ze'evi's group received some NIS 2.5 million from the Meuhedet health maintenance organization fund.

Another son, Palmach Ze'evi, recently became embroiled in a legal dispute when the former director general of an association he heads accused him and Ze'evi's widow, Yael Ze'evi, of pressuring her to retract minutes she recorded of a meeting of the association's board. In the minutes a senior functionary is heard suggesting a law be circumvented. Palmach Ze'evi has rejected the charges.

The family declined to comment for this report.