The father is dead and all is not peaceful for the daughter. Things were left unsaid between them; she cries uncontrollably as he lies dead in his hospital bed. No one can comfort her, and at her father's home, amid the gathering of family and friends and government officials, she can find no place for herself.
This is how Yael Dayan begins her book about life with her father, Moshe Dayan, perhaps the most celebrated military hero in the history of the state of Israel. But it is not all loving memory. In the end, Moshe Dayan disappoints -- as a father.
"Not as a national figure," says his 46-year-old daughter, sitting in a restaurant here, conjuring up images of her father and leaving her ice cream to melt. "I think this book is very fair about it. Not for one minute was he a disappointment on a national level in spite of all the things. His judgment was brilliant. His courage I don't think for one minute I doubted. But that's even more reason to be disappointed when these qualities do not channel themselves into everyday life."
She writes about the courageous and brilliant military leader of the Six-Day War, but also the man who could be aloof, intolerant, a philanderer during his first marriage -- a man who left almost nothing to his children or their mother when he died.
"My love for my father remains untouched; not so my respect," she wrote in a letter to her stepmother after her father's death.
"This book could have been written only in one way," Yael Dayan says, her voice gravelly and deep. "Other people can write differently, but for me it was either not to compromise and not to spare or not to write it. There's no way to start being selective about feelings and say this is not so neat and this is not so clean and this is not so commendable. I had to really put it down the way I felt. And a lot of people criticized it in Israel."
The book has not been published in Hebrew, but three chapters were serialized in an Israeli newspaper and there's something in it to annoy everyone, the author says. "Everyone's got his image, you know? This was Dayan, this is his place in history. Now, if they hated Dayan -- and a lot of people did and we can't ignore that -- they see my book as some kind of unholy attempt to rehabilitate him or clean him up. Those who were real admirers in the sense of 'Dayan, right or wrong' definitely reproach me, and they say, 'You've taken something that was a legend and a hero.' And everyone is using the obvious washing-dirty-linen-in-public."
A lot of the linen had already been aired in Israel. "He couldn't hide anything," she says of her father. And adds, "If the linen is dirty, and I'm washing it, the results should be clean in the sense of decency."
Her mother was the only person Yael did not want to offend. "I gave her the censor's pen . . ." Dayan says. "And she was very happy and proud of the book, although it's not always catering to her own image of my father or to her own personality."
There's something luminous about Yael Dayan, with high cheekbones popping out of olive skin, hazel eyes and long, straight dark hair. As a photographer takes pictures, she frets good-naturedly about the lines that time and sun have left on her face. She lives outside Tel Aviv with her husband Dov Sion, the military liaison to the multinational peace-keeping force in the Sinai, and their two children, Raheli, 14, and Dan, 17.
A writer by profession, she had published several books, including five novels, before taking on what would become "My Father, His Daughter."
Of the book, Dayan says, "For me it just happened naturally, as all my books have. Obviously, there was enough in me and in the story that should be passed on within my professional context."
Moshe Dayan had three children, and all struggled with the legacy. Yael's brothers -- Udi, 43, and Assi, 39 -- longed for an independent identity. Udi, now a farmer, didn't want his father to drive him to school. Assi, who once responded to a school questionnaire by saying his father was a plumber, is directing, producing and acting in Israel.
"They were like me, restless types . . . not sure what they wanted to do with their lives, and searching," Dayan says. "They hooked themselves down . . . and only later searched for the freedom I'd had until I was 27 or 28."
Yael suggests that she is the child most like her father: "I couldn't and didn't choose to fight it, and I didn't waste energy trying to shake off something that couldn't be shed and didn't disturb me," she writes. "Very often I heard, behind my back or in conversation: 'She is very much like her father.' The fact that, more and more often, it was not meant as a compliment didn't upset me. It inevitably meant being different from others, and it pleased me to think that I ran no risk of fitting into some sordid mediocre routine of average dull people."
As a small girl, she tagged happily along with her father on border inspection tours and predawn jaunts through the Negev. As a teen-ager, awakened late at night by the telephone, she would wander downstairs to find her father eating a piece of fruit and join him in conversation. Impatient with most mere mortals, Moshe Dayan turned to his bright, precocious daughter with amusing, deprecating stories of people who irritated him. Yael was a great audience.
"His judgment of character was superficial, and this went for the people he liked or respected, not to mention his taste in women, which was downright vulgar," she writes. "But he taught me to be selective and discerning, and at the time, I applied it to everything and everybody, except him."
Their clashes were incendiary, sometimes caused by the high profile she didn't realize she had. When she was 14 and her father was head of the Operations Branch of the General Staff of the Israeli Army, she struck up a platonic friendship with a magazine editor whom she met at a cafe' she frequented. It turned out he was considered "dangerous" by the government and Yael was put under surveillance and later interrogated by the Intelligence Service. Her father, furious over the matter, was in New York at a U.N. meeting and almost had to cut short the trip to deal with the incipient scandal.
When he did return, he greeted his daughter first with a kiss and then with a slap across her face "so hard I was almost thrown across the room," she writes. They had their confrontation, and it concluded, she writes, with him saying, "I love you very much, but don't take advantage of it."
At 17, she was sophisticated intellectually and sexually.
"Everything sort of happened sooner, and not so much in the sense of being promiscuous or anything. Everything happened sooner than happened to other people . . . What equalizes things is that by 18 if you haven't reached maturity, you're thrown into it rather unprepared. The 18-year-olds in Israel are already mature women in the sense that they've got to be responsible. They've got to share. There isn't a mommy to run to or a daddy to support you."
On the eve of the Sinai campaign, six months before she was due to enlist, Yael Dayan joined the army, where she found the other girls less sophisticated than her, and the women commanders "frustrated bitches." Still, she graduated from her officers' course as the outstanding cadet.
In the Six-Day War, she was a lieutenant in the military spokesman's unit and went out into the field to make her reports. "I was with [Ariel] Sharon -- in Sharon's lap more or less," she says. "And he's not the kind of commander who stays behind." The field, she says, "was home ground. It was my own state and it was the desert which I knew and loved."
When Moshe Dayan died, he left virtually nothing to his children, and according to Dayan, her stepmother Rahel -- who got virtually all of the estate -- refuses to relinquish even sentimental items, such as a certain Hanukah light.
"I don't care so much for objects," says Dayan. "If anything, I think we accumulate too much. And I'd like to discard some. But -- perhaps it sounds idiotic and perhaps like a sick thing -- but he had eye patches. I would like, not even for my children who knew him alive but perhaps their children, an eye patch, some of the things he wore -- a scarf, medals -- because they will not have known him . . . So I think there is a sense of continuation of objects, to be able to hand down something that was symbolic or typical of the person."
According to Dayan, her stepmother sold and donated to charity many of Moshe Dayan's things. She says that Rahel sold Moshe Dayan's archaeological collection for $1 million.
"I almost went to a charity ball where one of my father's binoculars was," says Dayan. "It was auctioned for charity. But I would feel it was too humiliating to go and bid for it."
Dayan says the biggest hurt was not that her siblings received no money or possessions; it was knowing that their father had neglected them. "It's not the money that you don't have," she says. "It's the lack of motivation to give us anything. Or a lack of foresight."
What disappointment she harbors for her father, she says, "is a disappointment I have with my country to some extent. It doesn't make me love it less or move away from there. We are becoming part of the materialistic western world too fast before we establish the basic idealism."
Dayan is active in the Labor Party and her name appeared, though relatively low, on the party list of candidates for Knesset seats. "It's not the essence of my life, and my ambition falls short of probably anybody else's," she says. But she also notes in the book that if her name is on the party slate, "I could at least make sure that since the foundation of the state, there would always be a Dayan on some list."