Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 





The Contemporary World

1945 to the present



After World War II, a new world order came into being in which two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, played the leading roles. Their ideological differences led to the arms race of the Cold War and fears of a global nuclear conflict. The rest of the world was also drawn into the bipolar bloc system, and very few nations were able to remain truly non-aligned. The East-West conflict came to an end in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent downfall of the Eastern Bloc. Since that time, the world has been driven by the globalization of worldwide economic and political systems. The world has, however, remained divided: The rich nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia stand in contrast to the developing nations of the Third World.



The first moon landing made science-fiction dreams reality in the year 1969.
Space technology has made considerable progress as the search for new
possibilities of using space continues.

 

 

 


Israel
 


SINCE 1948
 

 


see also: United Nations member states -
Israel

see also collection: David Roberts "A Journey in the Holy Land"

see also: Marc Chagall

 

The State of Israel's fight for existence determines its policies and identity to this day. Between the wars, and especially after 1945, many Jews settled in Palestine and cultivated and developed the country with determination and idealism. However, from the beginning, no satisfactory political solution could be found for the consequent expulsion of the Palestinians who were already living in the area. Relations with Israel's Soviet-backed Arab neighbors have long been strained to breaking point. The US-Israeli alliance has become central to both countries' foreign policies, helping to ensure Israeli supremacy in the Middle East. After a series of military defeats, most Arab countries eventually reached an accommodation with Israel, leaving the Palestinians isolated in their struggle for a state of their own.

 

 


History of Israel
 

 

 

CONTENTS:

 

 

Part I

Introduction- Jewish history in Israel
Birth of Judaism and Israel 1400 BCE - 586 BCE
Babylonian, Persian and Greek rule 586 BCE - 150 BCE
The restoration of Jewish rule 174 BCE - 64 BCE
Roman rule 64 BCE - 330
Byzantine (Christian Roman) rule 330 - 631
Arab rule 636 - 1099
Crusader rule 1099 - 1291
Mamluk (Egyptian - Islamic) rule 1260 - 1517
Ottoman (Turkish - Islamic) rule 1517 - 1917
The Zionist Movement
1897–1917: The Zionist Revolution
1917–1948: British rule: the Jewish national home
The League of Nations Mandate
The growth of Arab resistance and immigration restrictions
The 1939 White Paper and the Holocaust
1945–1947: Jewish uprising against British rule
The United Nations decides to partition Palestine
The War of Independence: The civil war phase
Israel 1948 - Present
The State of Israel declared
The War of Independence/Nakba: the Arab invasion phase
Armistice
Labour Party rule 1948–1977
1948–1953: Ben Gurion and mass immigration
1954–1955: Moshe Sharett and the Lavon Affair
1955–1963: Ben-Gurion II: Sinai Campaign & Eichmann Trial


Part II

1963–1969: Levi Eshkol and the Six-Day War

 

Part III

1969–1975: Golda Meir and Yom Kippur War
1975–1976: Yitzhak Rabin I: Operation Entebbe, start of Religious Settlements


Part IV

Likud domination 1977–1992
1977–1981: Menachem Begin I: the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty
1981–1983: Begin II: the First Lebanon War
1984–1988: Yitzhak Shamir/Shimon Peres rotation government and first Intifada
1988–1992: Shamir II: the Gulf War and Soviet immigration
1992–1995: Rabin II: Oslo peace talks
Direct elections for the Premier 1996–2005
1996–1999: Binyamin Netanyahu - the peace process slows
1999–2001: Ehud Barak and withdrawal from South Lebanon
2001–2006: Ariel Sharon and withdrawal from Gaza and the Northern West Bank
2006–2009: Ehud Olmert and growing Islamist confrontation
2009-present: Netanyahu II


Part V

List of Prime Ministers; List of presidents of the State of Israel


Part VI

Chagall in Israel


Part VII

United Nations member states - Israel

 



List of Prime Ministers
 

A total of twelve people have served as Prime Minister of Israel, five of whom have served on two non-consecutive occasions. Additionally, one person, Yigal Allon has served solely as an Interim Prime Minister. The other two who have served as Interim Prime Minister have gone on to become the Prime Minister.

  #
Name
Born-Died
Term started
Term ended
Political Party
  1.
David Ben-Gurion
1886–1973
14 May 1948
26 January 1954
Mapai
  2.
Moshe Sharett
1894–1965
26 January 1954
3 November 1955
Mapai
  2nd term
David Ben-Gurion
1886–1973
3 November 1955
26 June 1963
Mapai
  3.
Levi Eshkol 1 2
1895–1969
26 June 1963
26 February 1969
Mapai Alignment (from 12 January 1966)
  Interim PM
Yigal Allon 2
1918–1980
26 February 1969
17 March 1969
Alignment
  4.
Golda Meir
1898–1978
17 March 1969
3 June 1974
Alignment
  5.
Yitzhak Rabin 3
1922–1995
3 June 1974
20 June 1977
Alignment
  6.
Menachem Begin
1913–1992
20 June 1977
10 October 1983
Likud
  7.
Yitzhak Shamir
1915–
10 October 1983
13 September 1984
Likud
  8.
Shimon Peres 4
1923–
13 September 1984
20 October 1986
Alignment
  2nd term
Yitzhak Shamir 4
1915–
20 October 1986
13 July 1992
Likud
  2nd term
Yitzhak Rabin 5
1922–1995
13 July 1992
4 November 1995
Labour
  Interim PM
Shimon Peres 5
1923–
4 November 1995
22 November 1995
Labour
  2nd term
Shimon Peres 5
1923–
22 November 1995
18 June 1996
Labour
  9.
Benjamin Netanyahu
1949–
18 June 1996
6 July 1999
Likud
  10.
Ehud Barak
1942–
6 July 1999
7 March 2001
One Israel/Labour
  11.
Ariel Sharon 6
1928–
7 March 2001
14 April 2006 (Incapacitated from 4 January 2006)
Likud
Kadima (from 21 November 2005)
  Interim PM
Ehud Olmert 7
1945–
14 April 2006 (Acting from 4 January 2006)
4 May 2006
Kadima
  12.
Ehud Olmert 8
1945–
4 May 2006
31 March 2009 8
Kadima
  2nd term
Benjamin Netanyahu
1949–
31 March 2009
present
Likud

1 In 1965 Mapai merged with Ahdut HaAvoda to form the Labour Alignment, later renamed Alignment.

2 Eshkol died while in office. Yigal Allon briefly served as acting prime minister until he was replaced by Meir.

3 Rabin resigned and called for early elections in December 1976. After he was re-elected as the Alignment's leader, he resigned as candidate for the upcoming elections on 7 April 1977, but continued to serve as prime minister until Begin's first government was formed.

4 After the 1984 elections, Likud and the Alignment reached a coalition agreement by which the role of prime minister would be rotated mid-term between them. Shimon Peres of the Alignment served as prime minister for the first two years, and then the role was passed to Yitzhak Shamir. After the 1988 election Likud was able to govern without the Alignment, and Yitzhak Shamir became prime minister again.

5 Rabin was assassinated while in office. Shimon Peres served as acting PM until 22 November 1995.

6 On 21 November 2005, PM Sharon, along with several other ministers and MKs, split from Likud over the issue of disengagement from the Gaza Strip and negotiations over the final status of the West Bank. Sharon formed a new party, Kadima, which would go on to compete in the following elections of March 2006. Sharon continued as Prime Minister.

7 As the result of Ariel Sharon suffering a severe stroke on 4 January 2006, and being put under general anaesthetic, Ehud Olmert served as the Acting Prime Minister (Hebrew: ממלא מקום ראש הממשלה בפועל‎) from 4 January to 14 April, according to Basic Law: The Government: "Should the Prime Minister be temporarily unable to discharge his duties, his place will be filled by the Acting Prime Minister. After the passage of 100 days upon which the Prime Minister does not resume his duties, the Prime Minister will be deemed permanently unable to exercise his office." Basic Law: the Governmet 2001, section 16b In Sharon's case, this occurred on 14 April 2006, upon which Olmert became Interim Prime Minister.

8 Olmert officially resigned on 21 September 2008. With this his cabinet became an interim government, and he was the "interim" prime minister until the establishment of a new governing coalition (he was officially the prime minister, however, the government under him was an interim government, in this case).

 

 


David Ben-Gurion


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



David Ben-Gurion

David Ben-Gurion (help·info) (Hebrew: דָּוִד בֶּן-גּוּרִיּוֹן‎, born David Grün on 16 October 1886, died 1 December 1973) was the first Prime Minister of Israel. Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, culminated in his instrumental role in the founding of the state of Israel. After leading Israel to victory in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ben-Gurion helped build the state institutions and oversaw the absorption of vast numbers of Jews from all over the world. Upon retiring from political life in 1970, he moved to Sde Boker, a kibbutz where he lived until his death. Posthumously, Ben-Gurion was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.


Early life
Ben-Gurion was born in Płońsk, Congress Poland which was then part of the Russian Empire. His father, Avigdor Grün, was a lawyer and a leader in the Hovevei Zion movement. His mother, Scheindel, died when he was 11 years old.


Ben-Gurion in his Jewish Legion uniform in 1918.Ben-Gurion grew up to be an ardent Zionist. As a student at the University of Warsaw, he joined the Marxist Poale Zion movement in 1904. He was arrested twice during the Russian Revolution of 1905. He immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1906, shocked by the pogroms and anti-Semitism of life in Eastern Europe, and became a major leader of Poale Zion with Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

In Palestine, he first worked in agriculture, picking oranges. In 1909 he volunteered with HaShomer, a force of volunteers who helped guard isolated Jewish agricultural communities. In 1912 he moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul), the then Ottoman capital to study law at Istanbul University together with Ben-Zvi, and adopted the Hebrew name Ben-Gurion, after the medieval historian Yosef ben Gurion. He also worked as a journalist. In 1915, Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi were expelled from Palestine, still under Ottoman rule, for their political activities.

Settling in New York City in 1915, he met Russian-born Paula Munweis. They were married in 1917, and had three children. He joined the British army in 1918 as part of the 38th Battalion of the Jewish Legion (following the Balfour Declaration in November 1917). He and his family returned to Palestine after World War I following its capture by the British from the Ottoman Empire.

Zionist leadership
After the death of theorist Ber Borochov, the left-wing and right-wing of Poale Zion split in 1919 with Ben-Gurion and his friend Berl Katznelson leading the right faction of the Labor Zionist movement. The Right Poale Zion formed Ahdut HaAvoda with Ben-Gurion as leader in 1919. In 1920 he assisted in the formation and subsequently became general secretary of the Histadrut, the Zionist Labor Federation in Palestine.

In 1930, Hapoel Hatzair (founded by A. D. Gordon in 1905) and Ahdut HaAvoda joined forces to create Mapai, the more right-wing Zionist labor party (it was still a left-wing organization, but not as far left as other factions) under Ben-Gurion's leadership. The left-wing of Labour Zionism was represented by Mapam. Labor Zionism became the dominant tendency in the World Zionist Organization and in 1935 Ben-Gurion became chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, a role he kept until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

During the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, Ben-Gurion instigated a policy of restraint ("Havlagah") in which the Haganah and other Jewish groups did not retaliate for Arab attacks against Jewish civilians, concentrating only on self-defense. In 1937, the Peel Commission recommended partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas and Ben-Gurion supported this policy. This led to conflict with Ze'ev Jabotinsky who opposed partition and as a result Jabotinsky's supporters split with the Haganah and abandoned Havlagah.

Palestinian Arabs
Ben-Gurion recognized the strong attachment of Palestinian Arabs to the land but hoped that this would be overcome in time. In a conversation about "the Arab problem" in 1956, Goldman wrote that Ben-Gurion stated: "Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country ... There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it is simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army"

Nahum Goldman, president of the World Jewish Congress, criticized Ben-Gurion for what Goldman viewed as his confrontational approach to the Arab world: Goldman wrote that "Ben-Gurion is the man principally responsible for the anti-Arab policy, because it was he who moulded the thinking of generations of Israelis".

The view that Ben-Gurion's assessment of Arab feelings led him to emphasize the need to build up Jewish military strength is supported by Simha Flapan, who quoted Ben-Gurion as stating in 1938: "I believe in our power, in our power which will grow, and if it will grow agreement will come...".

British
The British 1939 White paper stipulated that Jewish immigration to Palestine was to be limited to 15,000 a year for the first five years, and would subsequently be contingent on Arab consent. Restrictions were also placed on the rights of Jews to buy land from Arabs. After this Ben-Gurion changed his policy towards the British, stating: "Peace in Palestine is not the best situation for thwarting the policy of the White Paper". Ben-Gurion believed a peaceful solution with the Arabs had no chance and soon began preparing the Yishuv for war. According to Teveth 'through his campaign to mobilize the Yishuv in support of the British war effort, he strove to build the nucleus of a "Hebrew army", and his success in this endeavor later brought victory to Zionism in the struggle to establish a Jewish state.'

During the Second World War, Ben-Gurion encouraged the Jews of Palestine to volunteer for the British army. He famously told Jews to "support the British as if there is no White Paper and oppose the White Paper as if there is no war". About 10% of the Jewish population of Palestine volunteered for the British army, including many women. At the same time Ben-Gurion helped the illegal immigration of thousands of European Jewish refugees to Palestine during a period when the British placed heavy restrictions on Jewish immigration.

In 1946 Ben-Gurion agreed that the Haganah could cooperate with Menachem Begin's Irgun in fighting the British. Ben-Gurion initially agreed to Begin's plan to carry out the 1946 King David Hotel bombing, with the intent of embarrassing (rather than killing) the British military stationed there. However, when the risks of mass killing became apparent, Ben-Gurion told Begin to call the operation off; Begin refused.

Illegal Jewish migration led to pressure on the British to either allow Jewish migration (as required by the League of Nations Mandate) or quit - they did the latter in 1948, not changing their restrictions, on the heels of a United Nations resolution partitioning the territory between the Jews and Arabs.

Religious parties and the status quo
In September 1947 Ben-Gurion reached a status quo agreement with the Orthodox Agudat Yisrael party. He sent a letter to Agudat Yisrael stating that while he is committed to establishing a non-theocratic state with freedom of religion he is promising that the Shabbat would be Israel's official day of rest, that in State provided kitchens there will be access to Kosher food, that every effort will be made to provide a single jurisdiction for Jewish family affairs, and that each sector would be granted autonomy in the sphere of education, provided minimum standards regarding the curriculum are observed.

To a large extent this letter (or agreement) provided a framework for religious affairs in Israel (e.g. no civil marriages, just as in Mandate times) and is often a benchmark to which the status is compared.

Military leadership and 1948 Palestinian Exodus
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War Ben-Gurion oversaw the nascent state's military operations. During the first weeks of Israel's independence, he ordered all militias to be replaced by one national army, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). To that end, Ben-Gurion used a firm hand during the Altalena Affair, a ship carrying arms purchased by the Irgun. He insisted that all weapons be handed over to the IDF. When fighting broke out on the Tel Aviv beach he ordered to take it by force and shell the ship. Sixteen Irgun fighters and three IDF soldiers were killed in this battle. Following the policy of a unified military force, he also ordered that the Palmach headquarters be disbanded and its units be integrated with the rest of the IDF, to the chagrin of many of its members.

As head of the Jewish Agency, Ben-Gurion was de-facto leader of Palestine's Jews even before the state was declared. In this position, Ben-Gurion played a major role in the 1948 War and the resulting Palestinian exodus. End of the eighties, after the opening of the IDF and other archives dealing with the events, scholars started to reconsider the events and the role of Ben Gurion.


David Ben-Gurion proclaiming independence beneath
a large portrait of Theodor Herzl,
founder of modern Zionism
 

Founding of Israel

On 14 May, on the last day the British Mandate, Ben-Gurion declared the independence of the state of Israel. In the Israeli declaration of independence, he stated that the new nation would "uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or gender."

Prime Minister of Israel
After leading Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ben-Gurion was elected Prime Minister of Israel when his Mapai (Labour) party won the largest number of seats in the first national election, held on February 14, 1949. He would remain in that post until 1963, except for a period of nearly two years between 1954 and 1955. As Premier, he oversaw the establishment of the state's institutions. He presided over various national projects aimed at the rapid development of the country and its population: Operation Magic Carpet, the airlift of Jews from Arab countries, the construction of the National Water Carrier, rural development projects and the establishment of new towns and cities. In particular, he called for pioneering settlement in outlying areas, especially in the Negev.

Ben-Gurion had a major role in the military operations that led to the Qibya massacre in October, 1953. Later in 1953 he announced his intention to withdraw from government and was replaced by Moshe Sharett, who was elected the second Prime Minister of Israel in January, 1954.

Ben-Gurion returned to office in 1955 assuming the post of Defense Minister and was soon re-elected prime minister. When Ben-Gurion returned to government, Israeli forces responded more aggressively to Palestinian guerilla attacks from Gaza—still under Egyptian rule. The growing cycle of violence led Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser to build up his arms with the help of the Soviet Union. The Israelis responded by arming themselves with help from France. Nasser blocked the passage of Israeli ships through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. In July 1956, America and Britain withdrew their offer to fund the Aswan High Dam project on the Nile and a week later Nasser ordered the nationalization of the French and British controlled Suez Canal.[citation needed] Ben-Gurion collaborated with the British and French to plan the 1956 Sinai War in which Israel stormed the Sinai Peninsula thus giving British and French forces a pretext to intervene in order to secure the Suez Canal. Intervention by the United States and the United Nations forced the British and French to back down and Israel to withdraw from Sinai in return for promises of free navigation through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. A UN force was stationed between Egypt and Israel.

Ben-Gurion stepped down as prime minister for what he described as personal reasons in 1963, and chose Levi Eshkol as his successor. A year later a rivalry developed between the two on the issue of the Lavon Affair. Ben-Gurion broke with the party in June 1965 over Eshkol's handling of the Lavon affair and formed a new party, Rafi which won ten seats in the Knesset. After the Six-Day War, Ben-Gurion was in favour of returning all the occupied territories apart from Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Mount Hebron.

In 1968, when Rafi merged with Mapai to form the Alignment, Ben-Gurion refused to reconcile with his old party. He favoured electoral reforms in which a constituency-based system would replace what he saw as a chaotic proportional representation method. He formed another new party, the National List, which won four seats in the 1969 election. Ben-Gurion retired from politics in 1970 and spent his last years living in a modest home on the kibbutz.

Ben-Gurion and the Negev
Ben-Gurion believed that the sparsely populated and barren Negev desert offered a great opportunity for the Jews to settle in Palestine with minimal obstruction of the Arab population. He set a personal example by choosing to settle in kibbutz Sde Boker at the centre of the Negev and established the National Water Carrier to bring water to the area. He saw the struggle to make the desert bloom as an area where the Jewish people could make a major contribution to humanity as a whole.

Ben-Gurion is buried alongside his wife Paula at a site in Midreshet Ben-Gurion in the Negev desert.

Awards
In both 1951 and 1971, Ben-Gurion was awarded the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought.

 

 

Moshe Sharett

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Moshe Sharett

Moshe Sharett (Hebrew: משה שרת‎, born Moshe Shertok (Hebrew: משה שרתוק) on 10 October 1894, died 7 July 1965) was the second Prime Minister of Israel (1953-1955), serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.

Early life
Born in Kherson in the Russian Empire (today in Ukraine), Sharett emigrated to Ottoman-controlled Palestine in 1906. In 1910 his family moved to Jaffa, and they became one of the founding families of Tel Aviv. He graduated from the first class of the Herzliya Hebrew High School. He then went off to Istanbul to study law, but his time there was cut short because of his service in the Turkish army as an interpreter.

Post-World War I
After the war he worked as an Arab affairs and land purchase agent for the Palestine Jewish Community's Representative Council. He also became a member of Ahdut Ha'Avoda and later of Mapai. In 1922 he went to the London School of Economics, and while there he actively edited the "Workers of Zion". He then edited the Davar newspaper from 1925 until 1931. In 1931, after returning to Palestine, he became the secretary of the Jewish Agency's political department. In 1933 he became the head of the Jewish Agency, and he held that position until the formation on Israel.

Israeli independence
Sharett was one of the signatories of Israel's Declaration of Independence. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1949, and served as Israel's first Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this role he established diplomatic relations with dozens of nations, and got Israel into the UN. He held this role until 1956.

In the debate on how to deal with the increasing infiltration of fedayeen across the borders in the years leading to the 1956 Suez Crisis, Sharett was skeptical of retaliatory operations.

Sharrett met with Pius XII in 1952 in an attempt to improve relations with the Holy See, although this was to no avail.

In December 1953 David Ben-Gurion retired from politics (temporarily as it turned out), and Sharett was elected to take his place. During his time as prime minister the Palestinian-Israeli conflict intensified and the Lavon Affair occurred. As a result David Ben-Gurion returned to the government as Defense Minister. At the next elections Ben Gurion replaced Sharett as head of the list and became prime minister.

Retirement
After stepping down as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sharett retired. During his retirement he became chairman of Am Oved publishing house, Chairman of Beit Berl College, and Chairman of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. He died in 1965 and was buried in Tel Aviv's Trumpeldor Cemetery.

Legacy
Sharett wrote personal diaries, which were published posthumusly. His son Yaakov founded an Institute for his heritage. Many cities have streets and neighborhoods named after him. Since 1987, Sharett has appeared on the 20 NIS bills. The bill first featured Sharett, with the names of his books in small print, and with a small image of him presenting the Israeli flag to the United Nations in 1949. On the back of the bill, there was an image of the Herzliya Hebrew High School, from which he graduated. In 1998 the bill went through a graphic revision, the list of Sharett's books on the front side was replaced by part of Sharett's 1949 speech in the UN. The back side now features an image of Jewish Brigade volunteers, part of a speech by Sharett on the radio after visiting the Brigade in Italy, and the list of his books in small print.

 

 

Levi Eshkol

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Levi Eshkol

Levi Eshkol (help·info) (Hebrew: לֵוִי אֶשְׁכּוֹל‎, born Levi Školnik (Hebrew: לֵוִי שׁקוֹלנִיק‎) on 25 October 1895, died 26 February 1969) served as the third Prime Minister of Israel from 1963 until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to die in office.


Biography
Levi Eshkol (Shkolnik) was born in the village of Oratov near Kiev, Russian Empire. His mother came from an Hasidic background and his father came from a family of Mitnagdim. Levi received a traditional education. In 1914, he left for Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. He was a leading member of the Judea Workers' Union in 1915–17 and volunteered for the Jewish Legion in World War I. Eshkol joined Kibbutz Deganya Bet and married Rivka Maharshek. They divorced shortly after the birth of their daughter, Noa, in 1924. Eshkol's second wife was Elisheva Kaplan, with whom he had three daughters, Dvora, Rivka and Tama.

Political career
After the establishment of the State of Israel, Eshkol was elected to the Knesset in 1951 as a member of Mapai party. He served as Minister of Agriculture until 1952, when he was appointed Finance Minister following the death of Eliezer Kaplan. He held that position for the following 12 years. During his term as Finance Minister, Eshkol established himself as a prominent figure in Mapai’s leadership, and was designated by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion as his successor. When Ben-Gurion resigned in June 1963, Eshkol was elected party chairman with a broad consensus, and was subsequently appointed Prime Minister. However, his relationship with Ben-Gurion soon turned acrimonious over the latter’s insistence on investigating the Lavon Affair, an Israeli covert operation in Egypt which had gone wrong a decade earlier. Ben-Gurion failed to challenge Eshkol’s leadership and split from Mapai with a few of his young protégés to form Rafi in June 1965. In the meantime, Mapai merged with Ahdut HaAvoda to form the Alignment with Eshkol as its head. Rafi was defeated by the Alignment in the elections held in November 1965, establishing Eshkol as the country’s indisputable leader. Yet Ben-Gurion, drawing on his influence as Israel's founding father, continued to undermine Eshkol’s authority throughout his term as Prime Minister, portraying him as a spineless politician incapable of addressing Israel's security predicament.

Prime minister
Eshkol’s first term in office saw continuous economic growth, epitomized by the opening of the National Water Carrier system in 1964. His and Finance Minister Pinchas Sapir's subsequent "soft landing" of the overheated economy by means of recessive policies precipitated a drastic slump in economic activity. Israel’s centralized planned economy lacked the mechanisms to self-regulate the slowdown which reached levels higher than expected. Eshkol faced growing domestic unrest as unemployment reached 12% in 1966, yet the recession eventually served in healing fundamental economic deficiencies and helped fuel the ensuing recovery of 1967-1973.


Upon being elected into office, Levi Eshkol fulfilled Ze'ev Jabotinsky's wish and brought his body to Israel where he was buried.

Eshkol worked to improve Israel’s foreign relations, establishing diplomatic relations with West Germany in 1965, as well as cultural ties with the Soviet Union which also allowed some Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister invited on an official state visit to the United States in May 1964. The special relationship he developed with President Lyndon Johnson would prove pivotal in securing US political and military support for Israel during the "Waiting period" preceding the Six Day War of June 1967. Today, Eshkol’s intransigence in the face of military pressure to launch an Israeli attack is considered to have been instrumental in increasing Israel’s strategic advantage as well as obtaining international legitimacy, yet at the time he was perceived as hesitant, an image cemented following a dismally stuttered radio speech on 28 May. With Egyptian President Nasser's ever more overt provocations, he eventually succumbed to public opinion and established a National Unity Government together with Menachem Begin's Herut party, reluctantly conceding the Defense portfolio to war hero Moshe Dayan, a close ally of Ben-Gurion’s and a member of his Rafi party. Israel’s overwhelming victory allowed Eshkol to remain Prime Minister despite never receiving recognition for his role in achieving it.

 

 


Golda Meir

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Golda Meir

Golda Meir (pronounced [ɡolˈda meˈʔiʁ], Hebrew: גּוֹלְדָּה מֵאִיר‎, born Golda Mabovitch, 3 May 1898 – 8 December 1978, known as Golda Meyerson from 1917–56) was the fourth prime minister of the State of Israel.

Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel on 17 March 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister. Israel's first and the world's third female to hold such an office, she was described as the "Iron Lady" of Israeli politics years before the epithet became associated with British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Former prime minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir "the best man in the government"; she was often portrayed as the "strong-willed, straight-talking, gray-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people".



1914 photo of Meir in Milwaukee

Biography
Meir was born Golda Mabovitch (Ukrainian: Ãîëäà Ìàáîâè÷) in Kiev in the Russian Empire (today Ukraine) to Blume Neiditch and Moshe Mabovitch, a carpenter. Meir wrote in her autobiography that her earliest memories were of her father boarding up the front door in response to rumors of an imminent pogrom. She had two sisters, Sheyna and Tzipke, as well as five other siblings who died in childhood. She was especially close to Sheyna. Moshe Mabovitch left to find work in New York City in 1903. In his absence, the rest of the family moved to Pinsk to join her mother's family. In 1905, Moshe moved to Milwaukee in search of higher-paying work and found employment in the workshops of the local railroad yard. The following year, he had saved up enough money to bring his family to the United States.

Blume ran a grocery store on Milwaukee's north side, where by age eight Golda had been put in charge of watching the store when her mother went to the market for supplies. Golda attended the Fourth Street Grade School (now Golda Meir School) from 1906 to 1912. A leader early on, she organized a fundraiser to pay for her classmates' textbooks. After forming the American Young Sisters Society, she rented a hall and scheduled a public meeting for the event. She went on to graduate valedictorian of her class despite not knowing English at the beginning of her schooling.


At 14, she went to North Division High School and worked part-time. Her mother wanted her to leave school and marry, but she rebelled. She bought a train ticket to Denver, Colorado, and went to live with her married sister, Sheyna Korngold. The Korngolds held intellectual evenings at their home where Meir was exposed to debates on Zionism, literature, women’s suffrage, trade unionism and more. In her autobiography, she wrote: "To the extent that my own future convictions were shaped and given form... those talk-filled nights in Denver played a considerable role." In Denver, she also met Morris Meyerson, a sign painter, whom she later married at the age of 19.

She attended the Milwaukee Normal School (now University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee) in 1916, and probably part of 1917. The same year, she took a position at a Yiddish-speaking Folks Schule. While at the Folks Schule, she came more closely into contact with the ideals of Labor Zionism. In 1913, she began dating Morris Meyerson, and they married on 24 December 1917. She was a committed Labor Zionist and he was a dedicated socialist. Together, they left their jobs to join a kibbutz in Palestine in 1921. She gradually became more involved with the Zionist movement. At the end of World War II, she took part in the negotiations with the British that resulted in the creation of the state of Israel. In 1948, she became Israel's first ambassador to the Soviet Union. That position lasted seven months, and she returned to Israel in 1949 to become Minister of Labor. In 1956, she became Foreign Minister, and served in this capacity until her retirement in 1965. She changed her name from "Meyerson" to "Meir" in 1956.

On 26 February 1969, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol died of a heart attack, at which time many members of the Knesset asked Meir to return to politics. She became prime minister of Israel with the Labor Party's support. Meir's greatest crisis came during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. While prime minister, she spent much of her time developing support for Israel by meeting with western leaders. In 1974, the labor coalition broke up and Meir left office. She died four years later.


Zionist activism
In 1913, she returned to North Division High School in Milwaukee, graduating in 1915. While there, she became an active member of Young Poale Zion, which later became Habonim, the Labor Zionist youth movement. She spoke at public meetings, embraced Socialist Zionism and hosted visitors from Palestine.

After graduating from the Milwaukee State Normal School (a predecessor of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee), she taught in Milwaukee public schools. She formally joined Poale Zion in 1915.

Golda and Morris married in 1917. Settling in Palestine was her precondition for the marriage. Golda had intended to make Aliyah straight away but her plans were disrupted due to all transatlantic passenger services being canceled due to the first world war. Instead she threw her energies into Poale Zion activities. A short time after their wedding, she embarked on a fundraising campaign for Poale Zion that took her across the United States. Finding herself pregnant, she underwent an abortion because she felt "her Zionist obligations simply did not leave room for a child." The couple moved to Palestine in 1921 together with her sister Sheyna.

Aliyah to Palestine
In Palestine, the couple joined a kibbutz. Their initial application to kibbutz Merhavia in the Jezreel Valley was rejected, but in the end they were accepted. Her duties included picking almonds, planting trees, working in the chicken coops and running the kitchen. Recognizing her leadership abilities, the kibbutz chose her as its representative to the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labour. In 1924, she and her husband left the kibbutz and resided briefly in Tel Aviv before settling in Jerusalem. There they had two children, a son Menachem (born 1924) and a daughter Sarah (born 1926). In 1928, she was elected secretary of Moetzet HaPoalot (Working Women’s Council), which required her to spend two years (1932–34) as an emissary in the United States. The children went with her, but Morris stayed in Jerusalem. Morris and Golda grew apart and eventually divorced. Morris died in 1951.

Histadrut activities
In 1934, when Meir returned from the United States, she joined the Executive Committee of the Histadrut and moved up the ranks to become head of its Political Department. This appointment was important training for her future role in Israeli leadership.

In July 1938, Meir was the Jewish observer from Palestine at the Évian Conference, called by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to discuss the question of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Delegates from the 32 invited countries repeatedly expressed their sorrow for the plight of the European Jews but made excuses as to why their countries could not help by admitting the refugees. Meir was disappointed at the outcome and remarked to the press, "There is only one thing I hope to see before I die and that is that my people should not need expressions of sympathy anymore."

Pre-state political role
In June 1946, the British cracked down on the Zionist movement in Palestine, arresting many leaders of the Yishuv. They had been provoked by paramilitary Zionist activities. Meir took over as acting head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency during the incarceration of Moshe Sharett. Thus she became the principal negotiator between the Jews in Palestine and the British Mandatory authorities. After his release, Sharett went to the United States to attend talks on the UN Partition Plan, leaving Meir to head the Political Department until the establishment of the state in 1948.

In January 1948, the treasurer of the Jewish Agency was convinced that Israel would not be able to raise more than $7–8 million from the American Jewish community.[4] Meir traveled to the United States and managed to raise $50 million, which was used to purchase arms in Europe for the nascent state. Ben-Gurion wrote that Meir’s role as the "Jewish woman who got the money which made the state possible," would go down one day in the history books.

On 10 May 1948, four days before the official establishment of the state, Meir traveled to Amman disguised as an Arab woman for a secret meeting with King Abdullah of Transjordan at which she urged him not to join the other Arab countries in attacking the Jews. Abdullah asked her not to hurry to proclaim a state. Golda, known for her acerbic wit, replied: "We've been waiting for 2,000 years. Is that hurrying?"

As head of the Jewish Agency Political Department, Meir called the mass exodus of Arabs before the War of Independence in 1948 as "dreadful" and likened it to what had befallen the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Ministerial career
Meir was one of twenty-four signatories (two of them women) of the Israeli declaration of independence on 14 May 1948. She later recalled, "After I signed, I cried. When I studied American history as a schoolgirl and I read about those who signed the Declaration of Independence, I couldn't imagine these were real people doing something real. And there I was sitting down and signing a declaration of establishment." Israel was attacked the next day by the joint armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Iraq in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Ambassador to Moscow
Armed with the first Israeli-issued passport, Meir was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the Soviet Union. During her brief stint there, which ended in 1949, she attended high holiday services at the synagogue in Moscow, where she was mobbed by thousands of Russian Jews chanting her name. The Israeli 10,000 shekel banknote issued in November 1984 bore a portrait of Meir on one side and the image of the crowd that turned out to cheer her in Moscow on the other.

Labour minister
In 1949, Meir was elected to the Knesset as a member of Mapai and served continuously until 1974. From 1949 to 1956, she served as Minister of Labour, introducing major housing and road construction projects. In 1955, on Ben Gurion's instructions, she stood for the position of mayor of Tel Aviv. She lost by the two votes of the religious bloc who withheld their support on the grounds that she was a woman.

Foreign minister
In 1956, she became Foreign Minister under Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Her predecessor, Moshe Sharett, had asked all members of the foreign service to Hebraicize their last names. Upon her appointment as foreign minister, she shortened "Meyerson" to "Meir," which means "illuminate." As Foreign Minister, Meir promoted ties with the newly-established states in Africa in an effort to gain allies in the international community. But she also believed that Israel had experience in nation-building that could be a model for the Africans. In her autobiography, she wrote: "Like them, we had shaken off foreign rule; like them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together, and how to defend ourselves." Israel could be a role model because it "had been forced to find solutions to the kinds of problems that large, wealthy, powerful states had never encountered."

On 29 October 1957 she was slightly injured in the foot when a 'Mills grenade' was thrown into the debating chamber of the Knesset. David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Carmel were more seriously injured. The attack was carried out by 25 year old Moshe Ben Yaakov Dueg. Born in Aleppo, his motives were attributed to a dispute with the Jewish Agency, though he was also described as 'mentally unbalanced'.

In 1958, she was recorded as having praised the work of Pope Pius XII on behalf of the Jewish people shortly after the pontiff's death. Pope Pius's legacy as a wartime pope remains controversial to this day.

In the early 1960s, Meir was diagnosed with lymphoma. In January 1966, she retired from the Foreign Ministry, citing exhaustion and ill health, but soon returned to public life as secretary general of Mapai, supporting the Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, in party conflicts.


David Ben-Gurion with Golda Meir at the Knesset in Jerusalem, 1962.
 

Prime minister
After Levi Eshkol’s sudden death on 26 February 1969, the party elected Meir as his successor. Meir came out of retirement to take office on 17 March 1969, serving as prime minister until 1974. Meir maintained the coalition government formed in 1967, after the Six-Day War, in which Mapai merged with two other parties (Rafi and Ahdut HaAvoda) to form the Israel Labour party.

In 1969 and the early 1970s, Meir met with many world leaders to promote her vision of peace in the Middle East, including Richard Nixon (1969), Nicolae Ceausescu (1972) and Pope Paul VI (1973). In 1973, she hosted the chancellor of West Germany, Willy Brandt in Israel.

In August 1970, Meir accepted a U.S. peace initiative that called for an end to the War of Attrition and an Israeli pledge to withdraw to "secure and recognized boundaries" in the framework of a comprehensive peace settlement. The Gahal party quit the national unity government in protest, but Meir continued to lead the remaining coalition.

Munich Olympics
In the wake of the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics, Meir appealed to the world to "save our citizens and condemn the unspeakable criminal acts committed." Outraged at the perceived lack of global action, she ordered the Mossad to hunt down and assassinate the Black September and PFLP operatives who took part in the massacre. The 1986 TV film Sword of Gideon, based on the book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team by George Jonas, and Steven Spielberg’s movie Munich (2005) were loosely based on these events.

Yom Kippur War
In the days leading up to the Yom Kippur War, Israeli intelligence was not able to determine conclusively that an attack was imminent. However, on 5 October 1973, Meir received official news that Syrian forces were massing on the Golan Heights. The prime minister was alarmed by the reports, and felt that the situation reminded her of what happened before the Six Day War. Her advisers, however, assured her not to worry, saying that they would have adequate notice before a war broke out. This made sense at the time, since after the Six Day War, most Israelis felt it unlikely that Arabs would attack again. Consequently, although a resolution was passed granting her power to demand a full-scale call-up of the military (instead of the typical cabinet decision), Meir did not mobilize Israel’s forces early. Soon, though, war became very clear. Six hours before the outbreak of hostilities, Meir met with Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan and general David Elazar. While Dayan continued to argue that war was unlikely and thus was in favor of calling up the air force and only two divisions, Elazar advocated launching a full-scale pre-emptive strike on Syrian forces.

Meir sided with Dayan, citing Israel’s need for foreign aid. She believed that Israel could not depend on European countries to supply Israel with military equipment, and the only country that might come to Israel’s assistance was the United States. Fearing that the U.S. would be wary of intervening if Israel were perceived as initiating the hostilities, Meir decided against a pre-emptive strike. She made it a priority to inform Washington of her decision. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger later confirmed Meir’s assessment by stating that if Israel had launched a pre-emptive strike, Israel would not have received "so much as a nail."

Recent biographer Elinor Burkett comes to the interpretation that Meir was the "real hero" of the war and not the Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, who considered surrender.


Golda Meir with Marc Chagall

Resignation
Following the Yom Kippur War, Meir’s government was plagued by in-fighting and questions over Israel’s lack of preparedness for the war. The Agranat Commission appointed to investigate the war cleared her of "direct responsibility", and related to her actions on Yom Kippur morning;

“ she decided wisely, with common sense and speedily, in favour of the full mobilization of the reserves, as recommended by the chief-of-staff, despite weighty political considerations, thereby performing a most important service for the defence of the state.”

Her party won the elections in December 1973, but she resigned on 11 April 1974, bowing to what she felt was the "will of the people." and what she felt was a sufficient premiership as well as the pending pressures of forming a coalition; "Five years are sufficient...It is beyond my strength to continue carrying this burden."Yitzhak Rabin succeeded her on 3 June 1974.

In 1975, she published her autobiography, My Life.

Death
On 8 December 1978, Meir died of cancer in Jerusalem at the age of 80. She was buried on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on 12 December 1978.

Awards
In 1975, Meir was awarded the Israel Prize for her special contribution to society and the State of Israel.


 

 


Yitzhak Rabin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin (help·info) (Hebrew: יִצְחָק רַבִּין ‎) (1 March 1922 – 4 November 1995) was an Israeli politician and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–1977 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995. In 1994, Rabin won the Nobel Peace Prize together with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat. He was assassinated by right-wing Israeli radical Yigal Amir, who was opposed to Rabin's signing of the Oslo Accords. Rabin was the first native-born prime minister of Israel, the only prime minister to be assassinated and the second to die in office after Levi Eshkol.


Biography
Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem in 1922 to Nehemiah and Rosa, two pioneers of the Third Aliyah. Nehemiah Rubitzov, born in a small Ukrainian town in 1886, lost his father when he was a child and worked to support his family from a young age. At the age of 18, he emigrated to the United States, where he joined the Poale Zion party and changed his surname to Rabin. In 1917, he went to the British Mandate of Palestine with a group of volunteers from the Jewish Legion. Rabin's mother, Rosa Cohen, was born in 1890 in Mohilev in Belarus. Her father, a rabbi, opposed the Zionism movement, but sent Rosa to a Christian high school for girls in Homel, enabling her to acquire a broad general education. Early on, Rosa took an interest in political and social causes. In 1919, she sailed to the region on the S.S. Ruslan, the bellwether of the Third Aliyah. After working on a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, she moved to Jerusalem.

Rabin grew up in Tel Aviv, where the family relocated when he was one year old. In 1940, he graduated with distinction from the Kadoori Agricultural High School and hoped to be an irrigation engineer. However, apart from several courses in military strategy in the United Kingdom later on, he never pursued a degree.

Rabin married Leah Rabin (born Schlossberg) during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Leah Rabin was working at the time as a reporter for a Palmach newspaper. They had two children, Dalia and Yuval. Rabin was non-religious, with Dennis Ross remarking that Ross had never met a more secular Jew in Israel.



Yitzhak Rabin

Military career

Palmach
In 1941, during his practical training at kibbutz Ramat Yohanan, Rabin joined the Palmach section of the Haganah, under the influence of Yigal Allon. The first operation he participated in was assisting the allied invasion of Lebanon, then held by Vichy French forces (the same operation where Moshe Dayan lost his eye) in June-July 1941. After the end of the war the relationship between the Palmach and the British authorities became strained, especially with respect to the treatment of Jewish immigration. In October 1945 Rabin was in charge of planning and later successfully executing an operation for the liberation of interned immigrants from the Atlit detainee camp for Jewish illegal immigrants. In the Black Shabbat, a massive British operation against the leaders of the Jewish Establishment in the Land of Israel, Rabin was arrested and detained for five months. After his release he became the commander of the second Palmach battalion and rose to the position of Chief Operations Officer of the Palmach in October 1947.

IDF service
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War Rabin directed Israeli operations in Jerusalem and fought the Egyptian army in the Negev. During the beginning of the war he was the commander of the Harel Brigade which fought on the road to Jerusalem from the coastal plain, including the Israeli "Burma Road", as well as many battles in Jerusalem, such as securing the southern side of the city by recapturing kibbutz Ramat Rachel.

During the First truce he participated in the altercation between the IDF and the Irgun on the beach of Tel Aviv as part of the Altalena Affair. In the following period he was the deputy commander of Operation Danny, during which the cities of Ramle and Lydda were captured, as well as the major airport in Lydda. Following the capture of the two towns there was an exodus of their Arab population and only a few hundred of the 50,000 to 70,000 residents remained.

Operation Danny was the largest scale operation until then and it involved four IDF brigades. He was then Chief of Operations for the Southern Front and participated in the major battles ending the fighting there, including Operation Yoav and Operation Horev.

In the beginning of 1949 he was a member of the Israeli delegation to the armistice talks with Egypt that were held on the island of Rhodes. The result of the negotiations were the 1949 Armistice Agreements which ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Following the demobilization at the end of the war he was the most senior (former) member of the Palmach that remained in the IDF.

In 1964 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) by Levi Eshkol who replaced David Ben Gurion and, like him, served as Prime-Minister and Minister of Defense. Since Eshkol did not have much military experience, Rabin had a relatively free hand. Under his command, the IDF achieved victory over Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the Six-Day War in 1967. After the Old City of Jerusalem was captured by the IDF, Rabin was among the first to visit the Old City, and delivered a famous speech on Mount Scopus, at the Hebrew University. In the days leading up to the war, it was reported that Rabin suffered a nervous breakdown and was unable to function. After this short hiatus, he resumed full command over the IDF.



General Moshe Dayan, Israeli Defence Minister (left) with General Yitzhak Rabin,
Istraeli Chief of Staff (centre) and the local commander as they walk to the
Wailing Wall after its capture by Israeli troops during the 6 Day War
Jerusalem, Israel - 8 June 1967
 

Ambassador and Minister of Labour
Following his retirement from the IDF he became ambassador to the United States beginning in 1968, serving for five years. In this period the US became the major weapon supplier of Israel and in particular he managed to get the embargo on the F-4 Phantom fighter jets lifted. During the 1973 Yom Kippur war he served in no official capacity and in the elections held at the end of 1973 he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Alignment. He was appointed Israeli Minister of Labour in March 1974 in Golda Meir's short-lived government.

First term as Prime Minister
Following Golda Meir's resignation on April 1974, Rabin was elected party leader, after he defeated Shimon Peres. The rivalry between these two labor leaders remained fierce and they competed several times in the next two decades for the leadership role. Rabin succeeded Golda Meir as Prime Minister of Israel on 3 June 1974. This was a coalition government, including Ratz, the Independent Liberals, Progress and Development and the Arab List for Bedouins and Villagers. This arrangement, with a bare parliamentary majority, held for a few months and was one of the few periods in Israel's history where the religious parties were not part of the coalition. The National Religious Party joined the coalition on 30 October 1974 and Ratz left on the 6 November.

In foreign policy, the major development at the beginning of Rabin's term was the Sinai Interim Agreement between Israel and Egypt, signed on September 1, 1975. Both countries declared that the conflict between them and in the Middle East shall not be resolved by military force but by peaceful means. This agreement followed Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy and a threatened ‘reassessment’ of the United States’ regional policy and its relations with Israel. Rabin notes it was,”an innocent-sounding term that heralded one of the worst periods in American-Israeli relations.” The agreement was an important step towards the Camp David Accords of 1978 and the peace treaty with Egypt signed in 1979.

Operation Entebbe was perhaps the most dramatic event during Rabin's first term of office. On his orders, the IDF performed a long-range undercover raid to rescue passengers of an airliner hijacked by militants belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's Wadie Haddad faction and the German Revolutionary Cells (RZ), and had been brought to Idi Amin's Uganda. The operation was generally considered a tremendous success, and its spectacular character has made it the subject of much continued comment and study.

Towards the end of 1976 his coalition government with the religious parties suffered a crisis: a motion of no confidence had been brought by Agudat Israel over a breach of the Sabbath on an Israeli Air Force base when four F-15 jets were delivered from the US and the National Religious Party had abstained. Rabin dissolved his government and decided on new elections, which were to be held in May 1977. Meanwhile two unfortunate developments from his perspective occurred: following the March 1977 meeting between U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Rabin, Rabin publicly announced that the U.S. supported the Israeli idea of defensible borders. Carter then issued a clarification. A "fallout" in U.S./Israeli relations ensued. It is thought that the fallout contributed to the Israeli Labor Party defeat in the May 1977 elections. The second development was the revelation that his wife, Leah, continued to hold a US dollar account from the days that Rabin was ambassador to the United States. According to Israeli currency regulations at the time, it was illegal for citizens to maintain foreign bank accounts without prior authorization. In the wake of this disclosure, Rabin handed in his resignation from the party leadership and candidacy for prime minister, an act that earned him praise as a responsible person and a man of integrity.
 

Opposition Knesset member and Minister of Defense
Following his resignation and Labor Party defeat at the elections, Likud's Menachem Begin was elected in 1977. Until 1984 Rabin was a member of Knesset and sat on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. From 1984 to 1990, he served as Minister of Defense in several national unity governments led by prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres.

When Rabin came to office, Israeli troops were still deep in Lebanon. Rabin ordered their withdrawal to a "Security Zone" on the Lebanese side of the border. The South Lebanon Army was active in this zone, along with the Israeli Defence Forces.

When the first Intifada broke out, Rabin adopted harsh measures to stop the demonstrations, even authorizing the use of "Force, might and beatings," on the demonstrators. Rabin the "bone breaker" was used as an International image. The combination of the failure of the "Iron Fist" policy, Israel's deteriorating international image and Jordan cutting legal and administrative ties to the West Bank with the U.S.'s recognition of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people forced Rabin to seek an end to the violence though negotiation and dialogue with the PLO.

In 1990 to 1992, Rabin again served as a Knesset member and sat on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.



Israeli Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his wife arrives in the United States.


Second term as Prime Minister
In 1992 Rabin was elected as chairman of the Labor Party, winning against Shimon Peres. In the elections that year his party, strongly focusing on the popularity of its leader, managed to win a clear victory over the Likud of incumbent Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. However the left-wing bloc in the Knesset only won an overall narrow majority, facilitated by the disqualification of small nationalist parties that did not manage to pass the electoral threshold. Rabin formed the first Labor-led government in fifteen years, supported by a coalition with Meretz, a left wing party, and Shas, a Mizrahi ultra-orthodox religious party.

Rabin played a leading role in the signing of the Oslo Accords, which created the Palestinian National Authority and granted it partial control over parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Prior to the signing of the accords, Rabin received a letter from PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat renouncing violence and officially recognizing Israel, and on the same day, 9 September 1993, Rabin sent Arafat a letter officially recognizing the PLO. During this term of office, Rabin also oversaw the signing of the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace in 1994.

For his role in the creation of the Oslo Accords, Rabin was awarded the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres. The Accords greatly divided Israeli society, with some seeing Rabin as a hero for advancing the cause of peace and some seeing him as a traitor for giving away land rightfully belonging to Israel. Many Israelis on the right wing often blame him for Jewish deaths in terror attacks, attributing them to the Oslo agreements.

Rabin was also awarded the 1994 Ronald Reagan Freedom Award by the former president's wife, former First Lady Nancy Reagan. The award is only given to "those who have made monumental and lasting contributions to the cause of freedom worldwide," and who "embody President Reagan's lifelong belief that one man or woman truly can make a difference."

Assassination and aftermath
The grave of Yitzhak (right) and Leah Rabin (left) on Mount HerzlOn 4 November 1995 (11th of Heshvan on the Hebrew Calendar) Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords and believed he was saving the country from a dire fate. The shooting took place in the evening as Rabin was leaving a mass rally in Tel Aviv in support of the Oslo process. Rabin was rushed to the nearby Ichilov Hospital, where he died on the operating table of blood loss and a punctured lung within 40 minutes. Amir was immediately seized by Rabin's bodyguards. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

After an emergency cabinet meeting, Israel's foreign minister, Shimon Peres was appointed as acting Israeli prime minister.

The assassination of Rabin came as a great shock to the Israeli public and much of the rest of the world. Hundreds of thousands of grieving Israelis thronged the square where Rabin was assassinated to mourn his death. Young people, in particular, turned out in large numbers, lighting memorial candles and singing peace songs. Rabin's funeral was attended by many world leaders, among them U.S. president Bill Clinton, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and King Hussein of Jordan. Bill Clinton delivered a eulogy whose memorable final words were in Hebrew — "Shalom, Haver" (Hebrew: שלום חבר‎, lit. Goodbye, Friend).

Before leaving the stage on the night of the assassination, Rabin had been singing Shir LaShalom (literally Song for Peace), along with Israeli singer Miri Aloni. After he died, a sheet of paper with the lyrics was found in his pocket, stained with blood.

The square where he was assassinated, Kikar Malkhei Yisrael (Kings of Israel Square), was renamed Rabin Square. Streets and public institutions have been named after him all over the country. After his assassination, Rabin was hailed as a national symbol and came to embody the Israeli peace camp ethos, despite his military career and hawkish views earlier in life. He is buried on Mount Herzl. In November 2000, his wife Leah died and was buried alongside him.

As with many political assassinations, there is much debate regarding the background of Rabin's assassination. There are a number of conspiracy theories related to the assassination of Rabin.

After Rabin's assassination, his daughter Dalia Rabin-Pelossof entered into politics and was elected to the Knesset in 1999 as part of the Centre Party. In 2001, she served as Israel's Deputy Minister of Defense.

Commemoration
The Knesset has set the 12th of Heshvan, the murder date according to the Hebrew calendar, as the official memorial day of Rabin. An unofficial but widely followed memorial date is November 4th, the date according to the Gregorian calendar.

In 1995 the Israeli Postal Authority issued a commemorative Rabin stamp.

The Yitzhak Rabin Center was founded in 1997 by an act of the Knesset, to create "[a] Memorial Center for Perpetuating the Memory of Yitzhak Rabin." It carries out extensive commemorative and educational activities emphasizing the ways and means of democracy and peace.

Mechinat Rabin, an Israeli pre-army preparatory program for training recent high school graduates in leadership prior to their IDF service, was established in 1998.

Many cities and towns in Israel have named streets, neighborhoods, schools, bridges and parks after Rabin. Also two government office complexes and two synagogues are named after Yitzhak Rabin. Outside Israel, there are streets named after him in Bonn, Berlin and New York and parks in Montreal, Rome and Lima. [23]

Reggae singer Alpha Blondy has recorded a single named 'Yitzhak Rabin' in memory of the Israeli prime minister.

 

 

Menachem Begin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Menachem Begin


Menachem Begin (help·info) (Hebrew: מְנַחֵם בְּגִין‎, Polish: Mieczysław Biegun, Russian: Ìåíàõåì Âîëüôîâè÷ Áåãèí, 16 August 1913 – 9 March 1992) was an Israel politician and the sixth prime minister of the State of Israel. Before the independence, he was the leader of the Irgun, a revisionist breakaway from the larger mainstream Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah. He proclaimed a revolt, on February 1, 1944, against the British mandatory government, which was opposed by the Jewish Agency. He played a significant role in Jewish resistance against the British control in the waning years of the mandate, leading the more militant Zionists.

Begin was elected to the first Knesset, as head of Herut, the party he founded, and was at first on the political fringe, embodying the opposition to the Mapai-led government and Israeli establishment. He remained in opposition in the eight consecutive elections (except for a national unity government around the Six-Day War), but became more acceptable to the political center. His 1977 electoral victory and premiership ended three decades of Labour Party political dominance.

Begin’s most significant achievement as prime minister was signing a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, for which he and Anwar Sadat shared the Nobel Prize for Peace. In the wake of the Camp David Accords, the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula and returned the Egyptian territories captured in the Six-Day War. Later, Begin’s government promoted the construction of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Begin authorized the bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq and the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 to fight PLO strongholds there, igniting the 1982 Lebanon War. As Israeli military involvement in Lebanon deepened, and the Sabra and Shatila massacre carried out by the Christian militia shocked world public opinion, Begin grew increasingly isolated. As IDF forces remained mired in Lebanon and the economy suffered from hyperinflation, the public pressure on Begin mounted. Depressed by the death of his wife Aliza in November 1982, he gradually withdrew from public life, until his resignation in October 1983.


Biography
Menachem Begin was born to Zeev Dov and Hassia Begun in Brest-Litovsk, (Brisk), a town then part of the Russian Empire which was known for its Talmudic scholars. He was the youngest of three children. On his mother's side he was descended from distinguished rabbis. His father, a timber merchant, was a community leader, a passionate Zionist, and an admirer of Theodor Herzl. The midwife who attended his birth was the grandmother of Ariel Sharon.

After a year of a traditional cheder education Begin started studying at a "Tachkemoni" school, associated with the religious Zionist movement. At 12, he joined the Zionist Socialist youth movement Hashomer Hatzair, but soon switched to Betar. At 14, he was sent to a Polish government school, where he studied he received a solid grounding in classical literature, and gained a lifelong love of classical works, which he was able to read in Latin.

Begin began studying law at the University of Warsaw where he learned the oratory and rhetoric skills that became his trademark as a politician, and viewed as Demagogy by his critics. He graduated in 1935, but never practiced law. In these same years he became a key disciple of Vladimir "Ze'ev" Jabotinsky, the founder of the militant, nationalist Revisionist Zionism movement and its Betar youth wing. His rise within Betar was rapid: in the same year he graduated, at age 22, he shared the dais with his mentor during Betar's World Congress in Krakow. In 1937 he was the active head of Betar in Czechoslovakia and Poland, leaving just prior to the 1939 invasion.




Picture from the arrest of Menachem Begin in September 1940 by the NKVD
(the picture was located in KGB archives).
 

Exile to the Soviet Camp
In September 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Begin escaped to Wilno, then located in eastern Poland. The town was shortly to be occupied by the Soviet Union, but from 28 October 1939, it was the capital of the Republic of Lithuania. Wilno was a predominately Polish and Jewish town; an estimated 40 percent of the population was Jewish, with the YIVO institute was located there. On 15 June 1940 the Soviet Union invaded Lithuania, ushering in mass persecution of Poles and Jews. An estimated 120,000 people were arrested by the NKVD and deported to Siberia. Thousands were executed with or without trial.


NKVD mug shot of Menachem Begin, 1940On 20 September 1940 Begin was arrested by the NKVD and detained in the Lukiškės Prison. He was accused of being an "agent of British imperialism" and sentenced to eight years in the Soviet gulag camps. On 1 June 1941 he was sent to the Pechora labor camps in the northern part of European Russia, where he stayed until May 1942. Much later in life, Begin would record and reflect upon his experiences in the interrogations and life in the camp in his memoir "White Nights".

In June 1941, just after Germany attacked the Soviet Union, and following his release under the Sikorski-Mayski Agreement, Begin joined the Polish Army of Anders. He was later sent with the army to Palestine via the Persian Corridor. Upon arrival in August 1942, he received a proposal to take over a position in the Irgun, as Betar's Commissioner. He declined the invitation because he felt himself honour-bound to abide by his oath as a soldier and not to desert the Polish army, where he worked as an English translator. Begin was subsequently released from the Polish Army after the Irgun intervened unofficially on his behalf with senior Polish army officers.[citation needed] He then joined the Jewish national movement in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Begin's father was among the 5,000 Brest Jews rounded up by the Nazis at the end of June 1941. Instead of being sent to a forced labor camp, they were shot or drowned in the river. His mother and older brother Herzl also died in the Holocaust.

Begin was married to Aliza Arnold. They had three children: Binyamin, Leah and Hassia.
 

Jewish underground
Begin quickly made a name for himself, both as a fierce critic of dominant Zionist leadership for being too cooperative with British ‘colonialism’, and as a proponent of guerrilla tactics against the British, which he saw as a necessary means to achieve independence. In 1942 he joined the Irgun (Etzel), an underground Zionist group which had split from the main Jewish military organization, the Haganah, in 1931. In 1944 Begin assumed the organization's leadership, determined to force the British government to remove its troops entirely from Palestine. Citing that the British had reneged on their original promise of the Balfour Declaration, and that the White Paper of 1939 restricting Jewish immigration was an escalation of their pro-Arab policy, he decided to break with the Haganah. Soon after he assumed command, a formal 'Declaration of Revolt' was publicized, and armed attacks against British forces were initiated.

Begin issued a call to arms and from 1944–48 the Irgun launched an all-out armed rebellion, perpetrating hundreds of attacks against British installations and posts. Begin financed these operations by extorting money from Zionist businessmen, and running bogus robbery scams in the local diamond industry, which enabled the victims to get back their losses from insurance companies.

For several months in 1945–46, the Irgun’s activities were coordinated within the framework of the Hebrew Resistance Movement under the direction of the Haganah, but this fragile partnership collapsed following the Irgun’s bombing of the British administrative headquarters at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, where 91 people, including British officers and troops as well as Arab and Jewish civilians, were killed. The attack was conducted as a response to the British actions on Black Sabbath, in which they arrested many Jews, and confiscated many important documents from the Jewish Agency. The attack on the King David Hotel was not meant to cause many deaths, as before the explosives went off, calls were placed by the Irgun to the King David Hotel. The issue of whether sufficient warning was given was subject to much controversy. Under Begin’s leadership, the Irgun continued to carry out operations such as breaking into Acre Prison, and the kidnapping and hanging of two British sergeants in response to the execution of several Irgun members by the British; this latter action caused the British to suspend any further executions of Irgun prisoners. Growing numbers of British forces were deployed to quell the Jewish uprising, yet Begin managed to elude captivity, at times disguised as a rabbi. MI5 placed a 'dead-or-alive' bounty of £10,000 on his head after Irgun threatened 'a campaign of terror against British officials', saying they would kill Sir John Shaw, Britain's Chief Secretary in Palestine.

The Jewish Agency, headed by David Ben-Gurion, opposed the Irgun’s independent agenda, which it saw as a challenge to its authority as the representative body of the Jewish community in Palestine. Ben-Gurion openly denounced the Irgun as the “enemy of the Jewish People”, accusing it of sabotaging the political campaign for independence. In 1944, the Haganah actively pursued and handed over Irgun members to the British authorities in what became known as The Hunting Season; Begin’s instruction to his men to refrain from violent resistance prevented this from deteriorating into an armed intra-Jewish conflict. In November 1947, the UN adopted the Partition Plan for Palestine, and Britain announced its plans to fully withdraw from Palestine by May 1948. Begin, once again rejected the plan and remained in opposition to the mainstream Zionist leadership. In the years following the establishment of the State of Israel, the Irgun’s contribution to precipitating British withdrawal became a contested historic debate, as different factions vied for control over the emerging narrative of Israeli independence. Begin resented his being portrayed as a belligerent dissident.
 

Altalena and the War of Independence
As the Israeli War of Independence broke, Irgun fighters joined forces with the Haganah and Lehi militia in fighting the Arab forces. Notable operations in which they took part were the battles of Jaffa and the Jordanian siege on the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. One such operation was the Deir Yassin massacre of Palestinian villagers in April 1948. The day after the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, Begin broadcast a speech on radio declaring that the Irgun was finally moving out of its underground status[12]. On June 1 Begin signed an agreement with the provisional government headed by David Ben Gurion, where the Irgun agreed to formally disband and to integrate its force with the newly formed Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

However, tensions with the IDF persisted, culminating in the confrontation over the Altalena cargo ship, which secretly delivered weapons to the Irgun in June 1948. The government demanded that all the weapons be handed over to it unconditionally, in accordance with the agreement regarding the integration of the Irgun into the IDF. However Begin refused to comply. Rather than negotiating, Ben-Gurion was determined to exercise the state’s authority over military affairs. A violent confrontation between the IDF and members of the Irgun occurred and Ben Gurion eventually ordered the IDF to take the ship by gunfire, and it burnt off the shore of Tel Aviv. Begin was on board as the ship was being shelled. In a speech later he ordered his men not to retaliate in an attempt to prevent the crisis from spiraling into a civil war. For years later Begin saw the Altalena Affair as a defining moment and viewed the government actions against the Irgun as a great injustice.

 

Political career

Herut opposition years
In August 1948, Begin and members of the Irgun High Command emerged from the underground and formed the right-wing political party Herut ("Freedom") party. The move countered the weakening attraction for the earlier revisionist party, Hatzohar, founded by his late mentor Vladimir Jabotinsky. Revisionist 'purists' alleged nonetheless that Begin was out to steal Jabotinsky's mantle and ran against him with the old party. The Herut party can be seen as the forerunner of today's Likud.

In November 1948, Begin visited the US on a campaigning trip. During his visit, a letter signed by Albert Einstein, Sidney Hook, Hannah Arendt, and other prominent Americans and several rabbis was published which described Begin's Herut party as closely akin in its organization, methods, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties and accused his group (along with the smaller, militant, Stern Gang) of having inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community.

In the first elections in 1949, Herut, with 11.5 percent of the vote, won 14 seats, while Hatzohar failed to break the threshold and disbanded shortly thereafter. This provided Begin with legitimacy as the leader of the Revisionist stream of Zionism.

Between 1948 and 1977, under Begin, Herut and the alliances it formed (Gahal in 1965 and Likud in 1973) formed the main opposition to the dominant Mapai and later the Alignment (the forerunners of today's Labour Party) in the Knesset; Herut adopted a radical nationalistic agenda committed to the irredentist idea of Greater Israel. During those years, Begin was systematically delegitimized by the ruling party, and was often personally derided by Ben-Gurion who refused to either speak to or refer to him by name. Ben-Gurion famously coined the phrase 'without Herut and Maki' (Maki was the communist party), referring to his refusal to consider them for coalition, effectively pushing both parties and their voters beyond the margins of political consensus.

The personal animosity between Ben-Gurion and Begin, going back to the hostilities over the Altalena Affair, underpinned the political dichotomy between Mapai and Herut. Begin was a keen critic of Mapai, accusing it of coercive Bolshevism and deep-rooted institutional corruption. Drawing on his training as a lawyer in Poland, he preferred wearing a formal suit and tie and evincing the dry demeanor of a legislator to the socialist informality of Mapai, as a means of accentuating their differences.

One of the fiercest confrontations between Begin and Ben-Gurion revolved around the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany, signed in 1952. Begin vehemently opposed the agreement, claiming that it was tantamount to a pardon of Nazi crimes against the Jewish people. While the agreement was debated in the Knesset in January 1952, he led a passionate demonstration in Jerusalem in which he attacked the government, calling for a violent overthrow of the elected government. Incited by his speech, the crowd marched towards the Knesset (then at the Frumin Building on King George Street), throwing stones and injuring dozens of policemen and several Knesset members. Many held Begin personally responsible for the violence, and he was consequently barred from the Knesset for several months. His behavior was strongly condemned in mainstream public discourse, reinforcing his image as a provocateur. In a 1952 a group of former Irgun members attempted to assassinate by a bomb package Konrad Adenauer, Federal Chancellor of West Germany. In 2006 one of the perpetrators claimed that Begin was the initiator of the attempt, with the goal of preventing the agreement. There are also claims, published in 2006, that Begin was involved

Laden with pathos and evocations of the Holocaust, Begin's impassioned rhetoric appealed to many, but was deemed inflammatory and demagoguery by others.

Gahal and unity government
In the following years, Begin failed to gain electoral momentum, and Herut remained far behind Labor with a total of 17 seats until 1961. In 1965, Herut and the Liberal Party united to form the Gahal party under Begin’s leadership, but failed again to win more seats in the election that year. In 1966, during Herut's party convention, he was challenged by the young Ehud Olmert, who called for his resignation. Begin announced that he would retire from party leadership, but soon reversed his decision when the crowd pleaded with him to stay. At the outbreak of the Six-Day War in June 1967, Gahal joined a national unity government under Prime Minister Levi Eshkol of the Alignment, resulting in Begin serving in the cabinet for the first time, as a Minister without Portfolio. The arrangement lasted until August 1970, when Begin and Gahal left the government, then led by Golda Meir due to disagreements over the Rogers Plan and its "in place" cease-fire with Egypt along the Suez Canal, Other sources, including William B. Quandt, note that the Labor party, by formally accepting UN 242 in mid-1970, had accepted "peace for withdrawal" on all fronts, and because of this Begin had left the unity government. On August 5, Begin explained before the Knesset why he was resigning from the cabinet. He said, "As far as we are concerned, what do the words 'withdrawal from territories administered since 1967 by Israel' mean other than Judea and Samaria. Not all the territories; but by all opinion, most of them."

Likud chairmanship
In 1973, Begin agreed to a plan by Ariel Sharon to form a larger bloc of opposition parties, made up from Gahal, the Free Centre, and other smaller groups. They came through with a tenuous alliance called the Likud ("Consolidation"). In the elections held later that year, two months after the Yom Kippur War, the Likud won a considerable share of the votes, though with 39 seats still remained in opposition.

Yet the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War saw ensuing public disenchantment with the Alignment. Voices of criticism about the government's misconduct of the war gave rise to growing public resentment. Personifying the antithesis to the Alignment's socialist ethos, Begin appealed to many Mizrahi Israelis, mostly first and second generation Jewish immigrants from Arab countries, who felt they were continuously being treated by the establishment as second-class citizens. His open embrace of Judaism stood in stark contrast to the Alignment's secularism, which alienated Mizrahi voters and drew many of them to support Begin, becoming his burgeoning political base. In the years 1974-1977 Yitzhak Rabin's government suffered from instability due to infighting within the labor party (Rabin and Shimon Peres) and the shift to the right by the National Religious Party, as well as numerous corruption scandals. All these weakened the labor camp and allowed Begin to finally capture the center stage of Israeli politics.

 

Prime Minister of Israel

1977 electoral victory
On 17 May 1977 the Likud, headed by Begin, won the Knesset elections by a landslide, becoming the biggest party in the Knesset. Popularly known as the Mahapakh ("upheaval"), the election results had seismic ramifications as for the first time in Israeli history a party other than the Alignment/Mapai was in a position to form a government, effectively ending the left's hitherto unrivalled domination over Israeli politics. Likud's electoral victory signified a fundamental restructuring of Israeli society in which the founding socialist Ashkenazi elite was being replaced by a coalition representing marginalized Mizrahi and Jewish-religious communities, promoting a socially conservative and economically liberal agenda.

The Likud campaign leading up to the election centered on Begin's personality. Demonized by the Alignment as totalitarian and extremist, his self-portrayal as a humble and pious leader struck a chord with many who felt abandoned by the ruling party's ideology. In the predominantly Jewish Mizrahi working class urban neighborhoods and peripheral towns, the Likud won overwhelming majorities, while disillusionment with the Alignment's corruption prompted many middle and upper class voters to support the newly founded centrist Democratic Movement for Change ("Dash") headed by Yigael Yadin. Dash won 15 seats out of 120, largely at the expense of the Alignment, which was led by Shimon Peres and had shrunk from 51 to 32 seats. Well aware of his momentous achievement and employing his trademark sense for drama, when speaking that night in the Likud headquarters Begin quoted from the Gettysburg Address and the Torah, referring to his victory as a 'turning point in the history of the Jewish people'.

With 43 seats, the Likud still required the support of other parties in order to reach a parliamentary majority that would enable it to form a government under Israel's proportionate representation parliamentary system. Though able to form a narrow coalition with smaller Jewish religious and ultra-orthodox parties, Begin also sought support from centrist elements in the Knesset to provide his government with greater public legitimacy. He controversially offered the foreign affairs portfolio to Moshe Dayan, a former IDF Chief of Staff and Defense Minister, and a prominent Alignment politician identified with the old establishment. Begin was sworn in as Prime Minister of Israel on 20 June 1977. Dash eventually joined his government several months later, thus providing it with the broad support of almost two thirds of the Knesset.

 

Camp David accords
 


Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin acknowledge applause during a joint session of Congress
in Washington, D.C., during which President Jimmy Carter announced the results of the Camp David Accords,
18 September 1978.

In 1978 Begin, aided by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, negotiated the Camp David Accords, and in 1979 signed the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty with Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat. Under the terms of the treaty, brokered by US President, Jimmy Carter, Israel was to hand over the Sinai Peninsula in its entirety to Egypt. The peace treaty with Egypt was a watershed moment in Middle Eastern history, as it was the first time an Arab state recognized Israel’s legitimacy whereas Israel effectively accepted the land for peace principle as blueprint for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Given Egypt’s prominent position within the Arab World, especially as Israel’s biggest and most powerful enemy, the treaty had far reaching strategic and geopolitical implications.

Almost overnight, Begin’s public image of an irresponsible nationalist radical was transformed into that of a statesman of historic proportions. This image was reinforced by international recognition which culminated with him being awarded, together with Sadat, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.

Yet while establishing Begin as a leader with broad public appeal, the peace treaty with Egypt was met with fierce criticism within his own Likud party. His devout followers found it difficult to reconcile Begin’s history as a keen promoter of the Greater Israel agenda with his willingness to relinquish occupied territory. Agreeing to the removal of Israeli settlements from the Sinai was perceived by many as a clear departure from Likud’s Revisionist ideology. Several prominent Likud members, most notably Yitzhak Shamir, objected to the treaty and abstained when it was ratified with an overwhelming majority in the Knesset, achieved only thanks to support from the opposition. A small group of hardliners within Likud, associated with Gush Emunim Jewish settlement movement, eventually decided to split and form the Tehiya party in 1979. They led the Movement for Stopping the Withdrawal from Sinai, violently clashing with IDF soldiers during the forceful eviction of Yamit settlement in April 1982. Despite the traumatic scenes from Yamit, political support for the treaty did not diminish and the Sinai was handed over to Egypt in 1982.


Begin was far less resolute in implementing the section of the Camp David Accord, which defined a framework for establishing autonomous Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He appointed Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon to implement a large scale expansion of Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories, a policy intended to make future territorial concessions in these areas effectively impossible. Begin refocused Israeli settlement strategy from populating peripheral areas in accordance with the Allon Plan, to building Jewish settlements in areas of Biblical and historic significance. When the settlement of Elon Moreh was established on the outskirts of Nablus in 1979, following years of campaigning by Gush Emunim, Begin declared that there are "many more Elon Morehs to come". Indeed during his term as Prime Minister dozens of new settlements were built, and Jewish population in the West Bank and Gaza more than quadrupled.
 

Bombing Iraqi nuclear reactor
Begin took Saddam Hussein's anti-Zionist threats very seriously and therefore took aim at Iraq. Israel attempted to negotiate with France so as not to provide Iraq with the nuclear reactor named Osirak or Tammuz 1, but to no avail. On June 7, 1981, Begin ordered the bombing and destruction of Osirak by the Israeli Air Force in a successful long-range operation called Operation Opera. Soon after, Begin enunciated what came to be known as the Begin doctrine: "On no account shall we permit an enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against the people of Israel." Many foreign governments, including the United States, condemned the operation, and the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution 487 condemning it. The Israeli left-wing opposition criticized it also at the time, but mainly for its timing relative to elections only three weeks later.

Lebanon invasion
On 6 June 1982, Begin’s government authorized the Israel Defense Forces' invasion of Lebanon, in response to the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Shlomo Argov. Operation Peace for Galilee’s stated objective was to force the PLO out of rocket range of Israel's northern border. Begin was hoping for a short and limited Israeli involvement that would destroy the PLO’s political and military infrastructure in southern Lebanon, effectively reshaping the balance of Lebanese power in favor of the Christian Militias who were allied with Israel. Nevertheless, fighting soon escalated into war with Palestinian and Lebanese militias, as well as the Syrian military, and the IDF progressed as far as Beirut, well beyond the 40 km limit initially authorized by the government. Israeli forces were successful in driving the PLO out of Lebanon and forcing its leadership to relocate to Tunisia, but the war ultimately failed in achieving security to Israel’s northern border, as well as imposing stability in Lebanon. Israeli entanglement in Lebanon intensified throughout Begin’s term, leading to a partial unilateral withdrawal in 1985, and finally ending in 2000.

Like Begin, the Israeli public was expecting quick and decisive victory. Yet as this failed to arrive, disillusionment with the war, and concomitantly with his government, was growing. Begin continuously referred to the invasion as an inevitable act of survival, often comparing Yasser Arafat to Hitler, but its image as a war of necessity was gradually eroding. Within a matter of weeks into the war it emerged that for the first time in Israeli history there was no consensus over the IDF’s activity. Public criticism reached its peak following the Sabra and Shatila Massacre in September 1982, when tens of thousands gathered to protest in Tel Aviv in what was one of the biggest public demonstrations in Israeli history. The Kahan Commission, appointed to investigate the events, found the government indirectly responsible for the massacre, accusing Defense Minister Ariel Sharon of gross negligence. The commission’s report, published in February 1983, severely damaged Begin’s government, forcing Sharon to resign. As the Israeli quagmire in Lebanon seemed to grow deeper, public pressure on Begin to resign increased.

Begin’s disoriented appearance on national television while visiting the Beaufort battle site raised concerns that he was being misinformed about the war’s progress. Asking Sharon whether PLO fighters had ‘machine guns’, Begin seemed out of touch with the nature and scale of the military campaign he had authorized. Almost a decade later, Haaretz reporter Uzi Benziman published a series of articles accusing Sharon of intentionally deceiving Begin about the operation’s initial objectives, and continuously misleading him as the war progressed. Sharon sued both the newspaper and Benziman for libel in 1991. The trial lasted 11 years, with one of the highlights being the deposition of Begin's son, Benny, in favor of the defendants. Sharon lost the case.

Retirement from public life
Begin himself retired from politics in August 1983 and handed over the reins of the office of Prime Minister to his old friend-in-arms Yitzhak Shamir, who had been the leader of the Lehi resistance to the British. Begin had become deeply disappointed by the war in Lebanon because he had hoped to establish peace with Bashir Gemayel, who was assassinated. Instead, there were mounting Israeli casualties. The death of his wife Aliza in Israel while he was away on an official visit to Washington DC, added to his own mounting depression. After his wife's death, Begin would rarely leave his apartment, and then usually to visit her grave-site to say the traditional Kaddish prayer for the departed. His seclusion was watched over by his children and his lifetime personal secretary Yechiel Kadishai, who monitored all official requests for meetings.

Death
Begin died in Tel Aviv in 1992, followed by a simple ceremony and burial on the Mount of Olives. He asked to be buried there instead of Mount Herzl, where most Israeli leaders are laid to rest, because he wanted to be buried beside Meir Feinstein of Irgun and Moshe Barazani of Lehi, who committed suicide in jail while awaiting execution by the British.

 

 

Yitzhak Shamir

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Yitzhak Shamir
 

Biography
Yitzhak Shamir (Icchak Jeziernicky) was born in Ruzhany (Polish: Różana), Russia later Poland. He studied at a Hebrew High School in Białystok, Poland. As a youth he joined Betar, the Revisionist Zionist youth movement. He studied at the law faculty of Warsaw University, but cut his studies short to immigrate to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1935, after settling in Palestine, he Hebraized his surname to Shamir. He joined the Irgun Zvai Leumi, an underground Jewish militia organization that opposed British control of Palestine. When the Irgun split in 1940, Shamir sided with the more militant faction, Lehi, headed by Avraham Stern. In secret contacts with German representatives at Beirut the group offered to open up a military front against the British in the Middle East in return for the expulsion (rather than extermination) of the Jewish population of Europe to Palestine.

In 1941 Shamir was imprisoned by British authorities. After Stern was killed by the British in 1942, Shamir escaped from the detention camp and became one of the three leaders of the group in 1943, reforming it as "Lehi". In October 1944 he was exiled and interned in Africa by the Mandate authorities. He made an attempt to escape from one of the camps by hiding in a water tank. He was returned, along with the other detainees, after the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. As one of Lehi's triumvirate, he authorized the assassination of the United Nations representative in the Middle East, Count Folke Bernadotte, who was seen by Shamir and his collaborators as an anti-Zionist and "an obvious agent of the British enemy".

Shamir admired the Irish Republicans and sought to emulate their anti-British struggle. Shamir himself took the nickname "Michael" for Michael Collins. After the battle for independence, Shamir joined the secret intelligence service (Mossad) (1955-1965).

Yitzhak Shamir is married to Shulamit. They have two children, Yair and Gilada.In 2004, his health declined and he was moved to a nursing home. The government turned down a request by the family to finance his stay at the facility.

Political career
In 1969, Shamir joined the Herut party headed by Menachem Begin and was first elected to the Knesset in 1973 as a member of the Likud. He became Speaker of the Knesset in 1977, and foreign minister in 1980, before succeeding Begin as prime minister in 1983 when he retired.

Prime Minister
Shamir had a reputation as a Likud hard-liner. In 1977 he presided at the Knesset visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. He abstained in the Knesset votes to approve the Camp David Accords and the Peace Treaty with Egypt. In 1981 and 1982, as Foreign Minister, he guided negotiations with Egypt to normalize relations after the treaty. Following the 1982 Lebanon War he directed negotiations which led to the May 17 1983 Agreement agreement with Lebanon, which did not materialize.

His failure to stabilize Israel's inflationary economy and to suggest a solution to the quagmire of Lebanon led to an indecisive election in 1984, after which a national unity government was formed between his Likud party and the Alignment led by Shimon Peres. As part of the agreement, Peres held the post of Prime Minister until September 1986, when Shamir took over.

As he prepared to reclaim the office of prime minister, which he had held previously from October 1983 to September 1984, Shamir's hard-line image appeared to moderate. However Shamir remained reluctant to change the status quo in Israel's relations with its Arab neighbors, and blocked Peres's initiative to promote a regional peace conference as agreed in 1987 with King Hussein of Jordan in what has become known as the London Agreement. Re-elected in 1988, Shamir and Peres formed a new coalition government until "the dirty trick" of 1990, when the Alignment left the government, leaving Shamir with a narrow right-wing coalition.

During the First Gulf War Shamir's government decided not to retaliate after the Iraqi Scud missile volleys (many of which struck Israeli population centers) . The United States urged restraint, saying Israeli attacks would jeopardize the delicate Arab-Western coalition assembled against Iraq. In May 1991, as the Ethiopian government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was collapsing, Shamir ordered the airlifting of thousands of Ethiopian Jews, known as Operation Solomon. Relations with the US were actually strained in the period after the war, over the Madrid peace talks which Shamir opposed. As a result, US President George Herbert Walker Bush was reluctant to approve loan guarantees needed to help absorb the large immigration from the former Soviet Union. Finally, Shamir gave in and in October 1991 participated in the Madrid talks. His narrow right wing government collapsed as a result, over the participation of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and new elections were called.

Electoral defeat and retirement
Shamir was defeated by Yitzhak Rabin's Labour in the 1992 election. He stepped down from the Likud leadership in March 1993, but remained a member of the Knesset until the 1996 election. For some time, Shamir was a critic of his Likud successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, as being too indecisive in dealing with the Arabs. Shamir went so far as to resign from the Likud in 1998 and endorse the right-wing splinter movement led by Benny Begin, Herut - The National Movement, that later joined the National Union during the 1999 election. After Netanyahu was defeated, Shamir returned to the Likud fold and supported Ariel Sharon in the 2001 election. Subsequently, in his late 80's, Shamir ceased making public comments.

Awards
In 2001, Shamir received the Israel Prize, for his lifetime achievements and special contribution to society and the State of Israel. According to Israeli politician Ruby Rivlin, Shamir was "an honest politician who performed his duties with utter integrity." Former head of Israeli Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, calls him a "remarkably honest man."

 

 

Ehud Barak

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Ehud Barak

Ehud Barak (Hebrew: אֵהוּד בָּרָק (help·info), born Ehud Brog on 12 February 1942) is an Israeli politician, former Prime Minister, and current Minister of Defense, deputy prime minister and leader of Israel's Labor Party.

Barak served as the 10th Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001. After losing the 2001 election, Barak embarked on a business career. On 12 June 2007 he completed a political comeback by winning the Labor Party leadership election. He was appointed as Minister of Defense, replacing outgoing party leader Amir Peretz.

Prior to his political career he served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces. Following a highly decorated career he was appointed the 14th Ramatkal (Head of General Staff) of the IDF.

 

Biography
Barak was born on 12 February 1942 in kibbutz Mishmar HaSharon in Mandate Palestine. He is the eldest of four sons of Esther (née Godin) and Israel Brog. Ehud hebraized his family name from "Brog" to "Barak" in 1959, when he joined the Israeli army.

His paternal grandparents, Frieda and Reuven Brog, were murdered in Pushelat, Lithuania in 1912, leaving his father orphaned at the age of two. Barak’s maternal grandparents, Elka and Shmuel Godin, died at Treblinka.

It was during his military service that he met his future wife, Naava. They had three daughters together. Barak and Naava divorced in August 2003. On 30 July 2007 Barak married Nili Priel in a small ceremony in his private residence.

Education
Barak earned his bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1968, and his master's degree in engineering-economic systems in 1978 from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.



Ehud Barak
 

Military service
Ehud Brog joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1959. At that time he decided to change his name to "Barak", which means "lightning" or "shine" in Hebrew. He served in the IDF for 35 years, rising to the position of Chief of the General Staff and the rank of Rav Aluf, the highest in the Israeli military. During the Yom Kippur War, Barak commanded an improvised regiment of tanks which among other things, helped rescue paratrooper battalion 890 commanded by Yitzhak Mordechai who were suffering heavy losses in the Battle of the Chinese Farm.


During his service as a commando in the elite Sayeret Matkal, Barak led several highly acclaimed operations, such as: "Operation Isotope", the rescue mission to free the hostages onboard Sabena Flight 572 at Lod Airport in 1972; the 1973 covert mission Operation Spring of Youth in Beirut, in which he was disguised as a woman in order to assassinate members of the Palestine Liberation Organization; Barak was also a key architect of the June 1976 Operation Entebbe, another rescue mission to free the hostages of the Air France aircraft hijacked by terrorists and forced to land at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. These highly acclaimed operations, along with Operation Bayonet led to the dismantling of Palestinian terrorist cell Black September and a decline in international terrorism for over 20 years.[citation needed] It has been alluded that Barak also masterminded the Tunis Raid on April 16, 1988, in which PLO leader Abu Jihad was assassinated.

Later he served as head of Aman, the Military Intelligence Directorate (1983-1985), head of Central Command (1986 - 1987) and Deputy Chief of the General Staff (1987-1991). He served as Chief of the General Staff between April 1, 1991 and January 1, 1995. During this period he implemented the first Oslo Accords and participated in the negotiations towards the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace.

Barak was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service and four Chief of Staff citations (Tzalash HaRamatcal) for courage and operational excellence. These five decorations make him the most decorated soldier in Israeli history (jointly with close friend Nechemiah Cohen). He was also awarded, in 1993, the Legion of Merit (Commander) by the United States.

Barak is also an expert in krav maga, the official martial art of the Israeli Defense Forces.


Political career

As a politician, Barak served as Minister of the Interior (1995) and then as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1995-1996). He was elected to the Knesset in 1996, where he served as a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. In 1996 Barak became the leader of the Labor Party.

Prime Minister of Israel
Barak was elected Prime Minister of Israel on 17 May 1999. Barak sparked controversy by deciding to form a coalition with the haredi party Shas who had received an unprecedented 17 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Shas grudgingly agreed to Barak's terms that they eject their leader Aryeh Deri, a convicted felon, and enact reform to "clean up" in-party corruption. Consequentially, the left wing Meretz party quit the coalition after they failed to agree on the powers to be given to a Shas deputy-minister in the Ministry of Education.

In 1999 Barak gave a campaign promise to end Israel's 22-year long occupation of Southern Lebanon within a year. On May 24, 2000 Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon. On October the 7th, 2000, three Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah and then subsequently killed. The bodies of these soldiers, along with the living Elhanan Tenenbaum, were eventually exchanged for Lebanese captives in 2004. Barak inaugurated peace negotiations with the PLO, which ultimately proved fruitless. Barak also took part in the Camp David 2000 Summit which was meant to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but failed. Barak also allowed Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami to attend the Taba Summit with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, after his government had fallen.

Domestic Issues
Barak was in power during the appointment of the Tal committee which dealt with the controversial issue of haredi Jews' exemption from military service. Riots in October 2000 led to the killing of 12 Israeli-Arabs and 1 Palestinian by Israel Police and one Israeli-Jewish civilian by Israeli Arabs. In 1999–2000, Israel experienced high growth rates (GDP) relative both to the economy’s past performance and by international standards.

Party leader, return to politics
In 2005, Barak announced his return to Israeli politics, and ran for leadership of the Labor Party in November. However, in light of his weak poll showings, Barak dropped out of the race early and declared his support for veteran statesman Shimon Peres.

After Peres lost the race to Amir Peretz and left the Labor party, Barak announced he would stay at the party, despite his shaky relationship with its newly elected leader. He declared, however, that he would not run for a spot on the Labor party's Knesset list for the March 2006 elections.

In January 2007 Barak launched a bid to recapture the leadership of the Labor party in a letter acknowledging "mistakes" and "inexperience" during his tenure as Prime Minister. In early March 2007, a poll of Labor Party primary voters put Barak ahead of all other opponents, including current leader Amir Peretz. In the first round of voting, on 28 May 2007, he gained 39% of the votes, more than his two closest rivals, but not enough to win the election.

As a result, Barak faced a runoff against the second-place finisher, Ami Ayalon, on June 12 2007, which he won by a narrow margin.

Defense Minister
After winning back the leadership of the Labor party, Barak was sworn in as Minister of Defense on June 18, 2007, as part of Prime Minister Olmert's cabinet reshuffle. However on 1 July 2007, Barak led a successful effort in the Labor central committee to stipulate that Labor would leave the government coalition if Olmert did not resign by September or October 2007. At that time the Winograd Commission would publish its final report on the performance of the Israel Defense Forces and its civilian leadership. The preliminary Winograd report released earlier this year laid most of the blame on Olmert for poorly planning, executing, and reviewing war strategies in the 2006 conflict against Hezbollah.

During December 2008 through January 2009, Barak led (as defense minister) Operation Cast Lead.

2009 Knesset Elections
Labor won only 13 out of the 120 Knesset seats in the 2009 Knesset Elections, making them the fourth largest party. Barak and other Labor Party officials initially stated they would not take part in the next government. However, over the objections of some in the Labor party, Barak later reached an agreement under which Labor joined the governing coalition. Barak retained his position as Defense Minister.

 

 

Ariel Sharon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Ariel Sharon


Ariel Sharon (help·info) (Hebrew: אריאל שרון‎, also known by his diminutive Arik, אַריק) (born Ariel Scheinermann (אריאל שיינרמן) on 26 February 1928) is an Israeli general and statesman, former Israeli Prime Minister. Sharon served as Prime Minister from March 2001 until April 2006, though he was unable to carry out his duties after suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006, when he fell into a coma and entered a persistent vegetative state.

During his career, Sharon was a controversial figure among many factions, both inside and outside Israel. The Israeli government established the Kahan Commission to investigate Sharon's involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and subsequently found he bore personal responsibility, specifically "for having disregarded the prospect of acts of vengeance and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps and for having failed to take this danger into account." Sharon resigned from the Defence Ministry, but remained in the cabinet as minister without portfolio.

During his tenure as Prime Minister, Sharon's policies caused a rift within the Likud Party, and he ultimately left Likud to form a new party called Kadima. He became the first Prime Minister of Israel who did not belong to either Labor or Likud (the two parties that have traditionally dominated Israeli politics). The new party created by Sharon, with Ehud Olmert having stepped in as its leader after Sharon fell ill in the midst of election season, won the most Knesset seats in the 2006 elections, and became the senior coalition partner in the Israeli government. Following the rise in 2009 of Israel's second Netanyahu government, Kadima has now become the senior member of the loyal opposition in the Knesset.

Prime Minister Sharon was mainly responsible, in 2004, for the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and the evacuation of Jewish settlements there. These measures were welcomed in many political and diplomatic circles around the world, but the Israeli right wing responded with anger and perplexity.

In his military career he attained the rank of Major-General.


Early life
Sharon was born in Kfar Malal, then in the British Mandate of Palestine, to a family of "Lithuanian Jews" - Shmuel Sheinerman, of Brest-Litovsk (now Brest, Belarus) and Dvora (formerly Vera), of Mogilev. His father was studying agronomy at the university of Tbilisi, Georgia (Georgian SSR) and his mother had just started her fourth year of medical studies when the couple married. They immigrated to the British Mandate Palestine from Russia, fleeing the Red Army. Apart from Hebrew, Sharon's father spoke Yiddish and his mother spoke Russian; their son also learned to speak Russian as a young boy.

The family arrived in the Second Aliyah and settled in a socialist, secular community where, despite being Mapai supporters, they were known to be contrarians against the prevailing community consensus:

The Scheinermans' eventual ostracism... followed the 1933 Arlozorov murder when Dvora and Shmuel refused to endorse the Labor movement's anti-Revisionist calumny and participate in Bolshevic-style public revilement rallies, then the order of the day. Retribution was quick to come. They were expelled from the local health-fund clinic and village synagogue. The cooperative's truck wouldn't make deliveries to their farm nor collect produce.

Four years after their arrival at Kfar Malal, the Sheinermans had a daughter, Yehudit (Dita), and two years after, they had a son, Ariel.

At age 10, Sharon entered the Zionist youth movement Hassadeh (“the Field”).

In 1942 at the age of 14, Sharon joined the Gadna, a paramilitary youth battalion, and later the Haganah, the underground paramilitary force and the Jewish military precursor to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Military career

From 1948 War to Suez Crisis

At the creation of Israel (and Haganah's transformation into the Israel Defense Forces), Sharon became a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade. He was severely wounded in the groin by the Jordanian Arab Legion in the first Battle of Latrun, an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the besieged Jewish community of Jerusalem. His injuries eventually healed.

In September 1949, Sharon was promoted to company commander (of the Golani Brigade's reconnaissance unit) and in 1950 to intelligence officer for Central Command. He then took leave to begin studies in history and Middle Eastern culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A year and a half later, he was asked to return to active service in the rank of major and as the leader of the new Unit 101, Israel's first special forces unit.

Unit 101 undertook a series of military raids against Palestinians and neighboring Arab states that helped bolster Israeli morale and fortify its deterrent image. The unit was known for raids against Arab civilians and military,[6] notably in the widely condemned Qibya massacre in the fall of 1953, in which 69 Palestinian civilians, some of them children, were killed by Sharon's troops in a reprisal attack on their West Bank village. In the documentary Israel and the Arabs: 50 Year War, Sharon recalls what happened after the raid, which was heavily condemned by many Western nations, including the U.S.:

I was summoned to see Ben-Gurion. It was the first time I met him, and right from the start Ben-Gurion said to me: "Let me first tell you one thing: it doesn't matter what the world says about Israel, it doesn't matter what they say about us anywhere else. The only thing that matters is that we can exist here on the land of our forefathers. And unless we show the Arabs that there is a high price to pay for murdering Jews, we won't survive."

Shortly afterwards, just a few months after its founding, Unit 101 was merged with the 890 Paratroopers Battalion to create the Paratroopers Brigade (Sharon eventually became the latter's commander). It continued to attack military, culminating with the attack on the Qalqilyah police station in the autumn of 1956.

In 1952-53, Sharon attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, taking History and Oriental studies.

Sharon has been widowed twice. Shortly after becoming a military instructor, he married his first wife, Margalit, with whom he had a son, Gur. Margalit died in a car accident in May 1962. Their son, Gur, died in October 1967 after a friend shot him while they were playing with a rifle. After Margalit's death, Sharon married her younger sister, Lily. They had two sons, Omri and Gil'ad. Lily Sharon died of cancer in 2000.

From 1958 to 1962, Sharon served as commander of an infantry brigade and studied law at Tel Aviv University.




Ariel Sharon

Mitla incident

In the 1956 Suez War (the British "Operation Musketeer"), Sharon commanded Unit 202 (the Paratroopers Brigade), and was responsible for taking ground east of the Sinai's Mitla Pass and eventually taking the pass itself. Having successfully carried out the first part of his mission (joining a battalion parachuted near Mitla with the rest of the brigade moving on ground), Sharon's unit was deployed near the pass. Neither reconnaissance aircraft nor scouts reported enemy forces inside the Mitla Pass. Sharon, whose forces were initially heading east, away from the pass, reported to his superiors that he was increasingly concerned with the possibility of an enemy thrust through the pass, which could attack his brigade from the flank or the rear.

Sharon asked for permission to attack the pass several times, but his requests were denied, though he was allowed to check its status so that if the pass was empty, he could receive permission to take it later. Sharon sent a small scout force, which was met with heavy fire and became bogged down due to vehicle malfunction in the middle of the pass. Sharon ordered the rest of his troops to attack in order to aid their comrades. In the ensuing successful battle to capture the pass, 38 Israeli soldiers were killed.

Sharon was criticized by his superiors and he was damaged by allegations several years later made by several former subordinates, who claimed that Sharon tried to provoke the Egyptians and sent out the scouts in bad faith, ensuring that a battle would ensue. Deliberate or not, the attack was considered[who?] strategically reckless because the Egyptian forces were expected to withdraw from the pass within a day or two.


Ariel Sharon


Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War

The Mitla incident hindered Sharon's military career for several years. In the meantime, he occupied the position of an infantry brigade commander and received a law degree from Tel Aviv University. When Yitzhak Rabin (who within a few years became associated with the Labor Party) became Chief of Staff in 1964, however, Sharon began again to rise rapidly in the ranks, occupying the positions of Infantry School Commander and Head of Army Training Branch, eventually achieving the rank of Aluf (Major General). In the 1967 Six-Day War, Sharon commanded the most powerful armored division on the Sinai front which made a breakthrough in the Kusseima-Abu-Ageila fortified area (see Battle of Abu-Ageila). In 1969, he was appointed the Head of IDF's Southern Command. He had no further promotions before retiring in August 1973. Soon after, he joined the Likud ("Unity") political party.

At the start of the Yom Kippur War on 6 October 1973, Sharon was called back to active duty along with his assigned reserve armored division. His forces did not engage the Egyptian Army immediately, despite his requests. Under cover of darkness Sharon's forces moved to a point on the Suez Canal that had been prepared before the war. Bridging equipment was thrown across the canal on 17 October. The bridgehead was between two Egyptian Armies. He then headed north towards Ismailia, intent on cutting the Egyptian second army's supply lines, but his division was halted south of the Fresh Water Canal.

Abraham Adan's division (Bren) passed over the bridgehead into Africa advancing to within 101 kilometers of Cairo. His division managed to encircle Suez, cutting off and encircling the Third Army, but did not force its surrender before the ceasefire. Tensions between the two generals followed Sharon's decision, but a military tribunal later found his action was militarily effective. This move was regarded by many Israelis as the turning point of the war in the Sinai front. Thus, Sharon is widely viewed as a war hero who saved Israel from defeat in Sinai. A photo of Sharon wearing a head bandage on the Suez Canal became a famous symbol of Israeli military prowess.

Sharon's aggressive political positions were controversial and he was relieved of duty in February 1974.

 

Early political career

Beginnings of political career
In the 1940s and 1950s, Sharon seemed to be personally devoted to the ideals of Mapai, the predecessor of the modern Labor Party. However, after retiring from military service, he was instrumental in establishing Likud in July 1973 by a merger of Herut, the Liberal Party and independent elements. Sharon became chairman of the campaign staff for that year's elections, which were scheduled for November. Two and a half weeks after the start of the election campaign, the Yom Kippur War erupted and Sharon was called back to reserve service. In the elections Sharon won a seat, but a year later he resigned.

From June 1975 to March 1976, Sharon was a special aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He planned his return to politics for the 1977 elections; first he tried to return to the Likud and replace Menachem Begin at the head of the party. He suggested to Simha Erlich, who headed the Liberal Party bloc in the Likud, that he was more fitting than Begin to win an election victory; he was rejected, however. He then tried to join the Labor Party and the centrist Democratic Movement for Change, but was rejected by those parties too. Only then did he form his own list, Shlomtzion, which won two Knesset seats in the subsequent elections. Immediately after the elections he merged Shlomtzion with the Likud and became Minister of Agriculture.

When Sharon joined Begin's government he had relatively little political experience. During this period, Sharon supported the Gush Emunim settlements movement and was viewed as the patron of the settlers' movement. He used his position to encourage the establishment of a network of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to prevent the possibility of Palestinian Arabs' return of these territories. Sharon doubled the number of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip during his tenure.

On his settlement policy, Sharon said while addressing a meeting of the Tzomet party: "Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Judean) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we don't grab will go to them."

After the 1981 elections, Begin rewarded Sharon for his important contribution to Likud's narrow win, by appointing him Minister of Defense. On 16 January 1982 US President Ronald Reagan, in his diary, said that Sharon was "the bad guy who seemingly looks forward to a war."

Sabra and Shatila massacre
During the 1982 Lebanon War, while Sharon was Defense Minister, the Sabra and Shatila massacre took place,carried out between September 16 and 18, in which between 800 and 3,500 Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps were killed by the Phalanges—Lebanese Maronite Christian militias. The Security Chief of the Phalange militia, a Lebanese himself, Elie Hobeika, was the ground commander of the militiamen who entered the Palestinian camps and killed the Palestinians. The Phalange had been sent into the camps to clear out PLO fighters while Israeli forces surrounded the camps and provided them with some logistical support and guarded camp exits. The incident led some of Sharon's critics to refer to him as "the Butcher of Beirut".

An Associated Press report on 15 September 1982 stated:

Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, in a statement, tied the killing [of the Phalangist leader Gemayel] to the PLO, saying: "It symbolises the terrorist murderousness of the PLO terrorist organisations and their supporters." Habib Chartouni, a Lebanese Christian from the Syrian Socialist National Party confessed to the murder of Gemayel, and no Palestinians were involved. Sharon had used this to instigate the entrance of the Lebanese militias into the camps.
The Kahan Commission found the Israeli Defence Forces indirectly responsible for the massacre and charged Sharon with "personal responsibility." It recommended in early 1983 the removal of Sharon from his post as Defense minister. In their recommendations and closing remarks, the commission stated:

We have found, as has been detailed in this report, that the Minister of Defense [Ariel Sharon] bears personal responsibility. In our opinion, it is fitting that the Minister of Defense draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office — and if necessary, that the Prime Minister consider whether he should exercise his authority under Section 21-A(a) of the Basic Law: the Government, according to which "the Prime Minister may, after informing the Cabinet of his intention to do so, remove a minister from office."
Sharon initially refused to resign as Defense Minister, and Prime Minister Menachem Begin initially refused to fire him. After a grenade was tossed into a dispersing crowd of an Israeli Peace Now march, killing Emil Grunzweig and injuring 10 others, a compromise was reached: Sharon agreed to forfeit the post of Defense Minister but stayed in the cabinet as a Minister without Portfolio. Sharon's removal as Defense Minister is listed as one of the important events of the Tenth Knesset.

In its 21 February 1983 issue, Time published a story implying Sharon was directly responsible for the massacres. Sharon sued Time for libel in American and Israeli courts. Although the jury concluded that the Time story included false allegations, they found that Time had not acted with "actual malice" and so was not guilty of libel.

On 18 June 2001 relatives of the victims of the Sabra massacre began proceedings in Belgium to have Sharon indicted on war crimes charges. In June 2002, a Brussels Appeals Court rejected the lawsuit because the law was subsequently changed to disallow such lawsuits unless a Belgian citizen is involved.

Political downturn and recovery
After his dismissal from the Defense Ministry post, Sharon remained in successive governments as a Minister without Portfolio (1983—1984), Minister for Trade and Industry (1984—1990), and Minister of Housing Construction (1990—1992). In the Knesset, he was member of the Foreign Affairs and Defence committee from (1990-1992) and Chairman of the committee overseeing Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union. During this period he was a rival to then prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, but failed in various bids to replace him as chairman of Likud. Their rivalry reached a head in February 1990, when Sharon snapped the microphone from Shamir, who was addressing the Likud central committee, and famously exclaimed: "Who's for wiping out terrorism?" The incident was widely viewed as an apparent coup attempt against Shamir's leadership of the party.

In Benjamin Netanyahu's 1996–1999 government, Sharon was Minister of National Infrastructure (1996—1998), and Foreign Minister (1998—1999). Upon the election of the Barak Labor government, Sharon became leader of the Likud party.

Campaign for Prime Minister, 2000-01
On 28 September 2000, Sharon and an escort of over 1,000 Israeli police officers visited the Temple Mount complex, site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest place in the world to Jews and the third holiest site in Islam. Sharon declared that the complex would remain under perpetual Israeli control. Palestinian commentators accused Sharon of purposely inflaming emotions with the event to provoke a violent response and obstruct success of delicate ongoing peace talks. On the following day, a large number of Palestinian demonstrators and an Israeli police contingent confronted each other at the site. According to the U.S. State Department, “Palestinians held large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity of the Western Wall. Police used rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and injuring about 200.” According to the GOI, 14 policemen were injured.

Sharon's visit, a few months before his election as Prime Minister, came after archeologists claimed that extensive building operations at the site were destroying priceless antiquities. Sharon's supporters point out that Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian National Authority planned the intifada months prior to Sharon's visit. They state that Palestinian security chief Jabril Rajoub provided assurances that if Sharon did not enter the mosques, no problems would arise. They also often quote statements by Palestinian Authority officials, particularly Imad Falouji, the P.A. Communications Minister, who admitted months after Sharon's visit that the violence had been planned in July, far in advance of Sharon's visit, stating the intifada "was carefully planned since the return of (Palestinian President) Yasser Arafat from Camp David negotiations rejecting the U.S. conditions". According to the Mitchell Report,


President George W. Bush, center, discusses the Middle East peace process with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Aqaba, Jordan, 4 June 2003.the government of Israel asserted that the immediate catalyst for the violence was the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations on 25 July 2000 and the “widespread appreciation in the international community of Palestinian responsibility for the impasse.” In this view, Palestinian violence was planned by the PA leadership, and was aimed at “provoking and incurring Palestinian casualties as a means of regaining the diplomatic initiative.”
The Mitchell Report found that

the Sharon visit did not cause the Al-Aqsa Intifada. But it was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen; indeed, it was foreseen by those who urged that the visit be prohibited. More significant were the events that followed: The decision of the Israeli police on 29 September to use lethal means against the Palestinian demonstrators.
In addition, the report stated,

Accordingly, we have no basis on which to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the PA to initiate a campaign of violence at the first opportunity; or to conclude that there was a deliberate plan by the GOI to respond with lethal force.
The Or Commission, an Israeli panel of inquiry appointed to investigate the October 2000 events,

criticised the Israeli police for being unprepared for the riots and possibly using excessive force to disperse the mobs, resulting in the deaths of 12 Arab Israeli, one Jewish and one Palestinian citizens.
Palestinians doubt the existence of popular support for Sharon's actions. Polls published in the media, as well as the 140% call-up of reservists (as opposed to the 60% in regular periods) seem to indicate that the Israeli public is quite supportive of Sharon's policies. A survey conducted by Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center in May 2004 found that 80% of Jewish Israelis believe that the Israel Defense Forces have succeeded in militarily countering the Al-Aqsa Intifada.




President Bush serves Ariel Sharon "Israeli cookies" on his Texas ranch.

Prime Minister
After the collapse of Barak's government, Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February 2001.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, United States President George W. Bush, and Ariel Sharon after reading statement to the press during the closing moments of the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, 4 June 2003.
President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon meet in the White House on 14 April 2004.On 20 July 2004, Sharon called on French Jews to emigrate from France to Israel immediately, in light of an increase in French anti-Semitism (94 anti-Semitic assaults reported in the first six months of 2004 compared to 47 in 2003). France has the fourth largest Jewish population (about 600,000 people), after the United States, Israel, and Russia. Sharon observed that an "unfettered anti-Semitism" reigned in France. The French government responded by describing his comments as "unacceptable", as did the French representative Jewish organization CRIF, which denied Sharon's claim of intense anti-Semitism in French society. An Israeli spokesperson later claimed that Sharon had been misunderstood. France then postponed a visit by Sharon. Upon his visit, both Sharon and French President Jacques Chirac were described as showing a willingness to put the issue behind them.

Unilateral disengagement
In May 2003, Sharon endorsed the Road Map for Peace put forth by the United States, European Union, and Russia, which opened a dialogue with Mahmud Abbas, and announced his commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state in the future.

He has embarked on a course of unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, while maintaining control of its coastline and airspace. Sharon's plan has been welcomed by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel's left wing as a step towards a final peace settlement. However, it has been greeted with opposition from within his own Likud party and from other right wing Israelis, on national security, military, and religious grounds.

Detractors of withdrawal plan
Detractors have publicly distrusted Sharon's motives for this plan, and their suspicions were further roused after publication of an interview with top Sharon aide Dov Weisglass in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on 8 October 2004, in which he explained Israel's motivation for withdrawing from Gaza. He told the newspaper:

"Palestinian terrorism must end before a political process leading to a Palestinian state begins. Otherwise, the result would be a Palestinian state with terrorism. ... The Gaza withdrawal would allow Israel to delay negotiations, and a Palestinian state, until such time that their leadership abandons violence. The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process, and when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."


 
Disengagement from Gaza
On 1 December 2004, Sharon dismissed five ministers from the Shinui party for voting against the government's 2005 budget. In January 2005 Sharon formed a national unity government that included representatives of Likud, Labor, and Meimad and Degel HaTorah as "out-of-government" supporters without any seats in the government (United Torah Judaism parties usually reject having ministerial offices as a policy). Between 16 and 30 August 2005, Sharon controversially expelled 9,480 Jewish settlers from 21 settlements in Gaza and four settlements in the northern West Bank. Once it became clear that the evictions were definitely going ahead a group of conservative Rabbis, led by Rabbi Yosef Dayan, placed an ancient curse on him known as the Pulsa diNura, calling on the Angel of Death to intervene and kill him. After Israeli soldiers bulldozed every settlement structure except for several former synagogues, Israeli soldiers formally left Gaza on 11 September 2005 and closed the border fence at Kissufim. While his decision to withdraw from Gaza sparked bitter protests from members of the Likud party and the settler movement, opinion polls showed that it was a popular move among most of the Israeli electorate with more than 80% of Israelis backing the plans. On 27 September 2005, Sharon narrowly defeated a leadership challenge by a 52-48 percent vote. The move was initiated within the central committee of the governing Likud party by Sharon's main rival, Binyamin Netanyahu, who had left the cabinet to protest Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. The measure was an attempt by Netanyahu to call an early primary in November 2005 to choose the party's leader.

Founding of Kadima
On 21 November 2005, Sharon resigned as head of Likud, and dissolved parliament to form a new centrist party called Kadima ("Forward"). November polls indicated that Sharon was likely to be returned to the prime ministership. On 20 December 2005, Sharon's longtime rival Benjamin Netanyahu was elected his successor as leader of Likud.Following Sharon's incapacitation, Ehud Olmert replaced Sharon as Kadima's leader, for the nearing general elections. Netanyahu, along with Labor's Amir Peretz, were Kadima's chief rivals in the March 2006 elections.

In the elections, which saw Israel's lowest-ever voter turnout of 64%[30] (the number usually averages on the high 70%), Kadima, headed by Olmert, received the most Knesset seats, followed by Labor. The new governing coalition installed in May 2006 includes Kadima, with Olmert as Prime Minister, Labor (including Peretz as Defense Minister), the Gil (Pensioner's) Party, the Shas religious party, and Yisrael Beiteinu.

 

Incapacitation and end of political career

Stroke of December 2005
On 18 December 2005 Sharon was sent to Hadassah Medical Center after suffering a mild stroke, specifically a relatively unusual type called a paradoxical embolism, in which a clot from the venous circulation crosses over into the arterial circulation through a hole between the right and left atrium called an atrial septal defect (or a patent foramen ovale) and goes to the brain, causing a transient speech and motor disturbance.

Sharon often joked about his own weight; in October 2004 when asked why he did not wear a ballistic vest despite frequent death threats, Sharon smiled and replied, "There is none that fits my size". While this obesity in itself would not necessarily lead to a stroke, the associated conditions, such as high cholesterol, could.

On his way to the hospital he lost consciousness but regained it shortly thereafter. He reportedly wanted to leave the hospital the evening after his arrival but the hospital wanted him to stay another day. He spent two days in the hospital and was to have had the small hole in his heart repaired by a cardiac catheterization procedure in early January.

Stroke of January 2006
On 4 January 2006, in the evening before his catheterization, Sharon suffered a second, far more serious stroke at his Sycamore Ranch in the Negev region. A "massive cerebral haemorrhage" led to bleeding in his brain which doctors eventually brought under control the following morning after performing two separate operations. After the first operation, lasting seven hours, Hadassah Director Shlomo Mor-Yosef reported Sharon's bleeding had stopped and his brain was functioning without artificial support. After a second, 14-hour surgery, Sharon was placed on a ventilator and some reports suggested that he was suffering from paralysis in his lower body, while others said he was still fighting for his life. He was placed in an induced coma and his Prime Ministerial duties were handed over to his deputy, Ehud Olmert. On Friday, 6 January, Sharon was brought back into the operating theatre after doctors reviewed the results of a brain scan. Hospital officials declined to comment on these reports.

On the night of Sharon's stroke, in the wake of his serious illness and following consultations between Government Secretary Israel Maimon and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Sharon was declared "temporarily incapable of discharging his powers." As a result, Ehud Olmert, the Deputy Prime Minister, was officially confirmed as the Acting Prime Minister of Israel. Olmert and the Cabinet announced that the elections would take place on 28 March as scheduled.

On 9 January, Haaretz reported that while performing tests on Sharon while treating his second stroke, doctors had discovered he was suffering from undiagnosed cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), a brain disorder which, in conjunction with blood thinners prescribed after his first stroke, greatly increased his risk of cerebral hemorrhage. Although some have insinuated that this news represents a failure on Hadassah's part to provide adequate care for Sharon, CAA can be very difficult to accurately diagnose, and is often only discovered after an individual suffers a brain hemorrhage. The following day, newspapers reported that Sharon's CAA had actually been diagnosed following his first stroke in December. This was confirmed by hospital director Mor-Yosef who commented that "Hadassah physicians were aware of the brain diagnosis, and no new diagnosis has been made during the current hospitalization." Mor-Yosef declined to respond to criticism of the combination of blood thinners and a CAA diagnosis, though Haaretz quoted some doctors as saying the medication led to the second stroke and that it would never have been given if doctors had known about his brain condition.

Sharon underwent subsequent surgeries the following month. On 11 February 2006, doctors performed emergency surgery to remove 50-cm of his large intestine that had become necrotic, probably because of a blood clot. On 22 February, he underwent an additional procedure to drain excess fluid from his stomach, discovered during a routine CT scan.

Criticism
Several commentators have noted that Sharon's care was potentially flawed. Most seriously, after his second stroke, Sharon was transported by ground ambulance to the hospital, a trip that took approximately one hour. Helicopter transport was not used. Also, other commentators have said that the dose of blood thinner given to Sharon was potentially problematic for someone who had recently suffered a stroke.

Replacement by Ehud Olmert
According to Israeli law, an Acting Prime Minister can remain in office 100 days after the Prime Minister has become incapacitated. After 100 days, the Israeli President must appoint a new Prime Minister. At the time of his stroke, Sharon enjoyed considerable support from the general public in Israel. The new centrist political party that he founded, Kadima, won the largest number of seats in the Knesset elections held on 28 March 2006. (Since Sharon was unable to sign a nomination form, he was not a candidate and therefore ceased to be a Knesset member.)

On 6 April, President of Israel Moshe Katsav formally asked Ehud Olmert to form a government, making him Prime Minister-Designate. Olmert had an initial period of 28 days to form a governing coalition, with a possible two-week extension. On 11 April 2006, the Israeli Cabinet deemed that Sharon was incapacitated. Although Sharon's replacement was to be named within 100 days of his becoming incapacitated, the replacement deadline was extended due to the Jewish festival of Passover. A provision was made that, should Sharon's condition improve between 11 April and 14 April, the declaration would not take effect. Therefore, the official declaration took effect on 14 April, formally ending Sharon's term as Prime Minister and making Ehud Olmert the country's new Prime Minister.

Subsequent care
On 28 May 2006, Sharon was transferred from the hospital in Jerusalem to a long-term care unit of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, a large civilian and military hospital. Ha'aretz reported that this move was an indication that Sharon's doctors did not expect him to emerge from his coma in the foreseeable future. Dr. Yuli Krieger, a physician not involved in Sharon's case, told Israel Radio that the chances of waking up after such a lengthy coma were small. "Every day that passes after this kind of event with the patient still unconscious the chances that he will gain consciousness get smaller," said Krieger, Deputy Head of Levinstein House, another long-term care facility.

On 23 July 2006, CNN reported that Sharon's condition was deteriorating and his kidney function was worsening. On 26 July 2006 doctors moved him to intensive care and began hemofiltration. On 14 August 2006 doctors reported that Sharon's condition worsened significantly and that he was suffering from pneumonia in both lungs. On 29 August, doctors reported that he had been successfully treated for his pneumonia and moved out of intensive care back to the long-term care unit.

On 3 November 2006, it was reported that Sharon had been admitted to intensive care after contracting an infection, though doctors insisted that his condition was 'stable'. He was moved out of the intensive care unit on 6 November 2006 after treatment for a heart infection. Doctors stated that "his heart function has improved after being treated for an infection and his overall condition has stabilised".

In 2006, there were reports that Austrian and Israeli police were investigating Martin Schlaff and Robert Nowikovsky of illicit payments to Sharon.

Sharon has remained in a long-term care centre since 6 November 2006. Medical experts have indicated that Sharon's cognitive abilities were destroyed by the massive stroke, and that he is in a persistent vegetative state with slim chances of regaining consciousness.

On 13 April 2007, it was reported that Sharon's condition had slightly improved and that according to his son, Omri, he was marginally responsive. On 27 October 2009 his doctor reported that he is still comatose but in a stable condition.
 

 

Ehud Olmert


Ehud Olmert

Main
prime minister of Israel

born Sept. 30, 1945, near Binyamina, Palestine [now in Israel]

Israeli politician who served as mayor of Jerusalem (1993–2003) and as prime minister of Israel (2006–09).

Olmert’s parents were members of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, a militant Jewish group that fought for the establishment of Israel. In the mid-1950s and early ’60s, Olmert’s father, Mordechai, served in Israel’s Knesset (parliament) as a member of the Herut Party, a political outgrowth of the Irgun and a precursor of the Likud.

Olmert attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received both bachelor’s (1968) and law (1973) degrees. In 1973 he became Israel’s youngest Knesset member, elected as a part of the right-wing Likud led by Menachem Begin. In the Knesset Olmert established a reputation for fighting organized crime and corruption in sports. He rose within Likud, particularly after 1983, when Yitzḥak Shamir replaced Begin as party leader and prime minister. In 1988 Olmert was appointed minister without portfolio and was responsible for relations with Israeli Arabs; in 1990 he became minister of health.

In 1993 Olmert left national politics and was elected mayor of Jerusalem, defeating six-time incumbent Teddy Kollek; he was reelected in 1998. In 2003 Olmert was recalled to national politics by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who appointed him vice prime minister and minister of trade and industry. Olmert became one of Sharon’s closest political advisers and was a chief architect of Sharon’s policy of withdrawing from some of the Israeli-held territory in the Gaza Strip and West Bank and forcibly removing Jewish settlers there.

In January 2006, after Sharon was debilitated by a massive stroke, Olmert became acting prime minister. In March 2006 he led to victory Kadima—the centrist party Sharon had established in 2005 by breaking away from the Likud—and was subsequently confirmed as prime minister after forming a coalition government. Olmert promised to continue Sharon’s policies of disengagement from Israeli-occupied areas and of setting permanent borders between Israel and the Palestinians by 2010. However, Ḥamās’s unexpected victory in the Palestinian elections in 2006 and its takeover of the Gaza Strip the following year brought a new uncertainty to Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Following the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah in July 2006, Olmert initiated a massive military operation into southern Lebanon in an effort to secure the soldiers’ release and deliver a decisive blow to the Shīʿite militant group based there. The inconclusive 34-day war—in which Israel failed to free its soldiers or eradicate Hezbollah and in which more than 1,000 Lebanese and more than 150 Israelis were killed—drew both domestic and international reproach. Although the final report issued in January 2008 by the Winograd Commission (a body of inquiry convened to investigate the conduct of the July 2006 campaign) was highly critical of the upper echelons of Israeli political and military leadership, its appraisal of Olmert in particular was not as harsh as some had anticipated.

Olmert’s weakened public standing was further damaged by allegations of corruption, the most high-profile of which alleged that he had accepted large sums of money from an American businessman before his tenure as prime minister. In the course of the subsequent inquiry, Olmert argued that the contributions were used to legally finance his election campaign, but he pledged to step down if charged. Calls for his resignation mounted as the inquiry progressed, and in July 2008 Olmert announced that he would step down after party elections scheduled for the fall of that year. In the September election, one of Olmert’s rivals, Tzipi Livni, emerged as the leader of Kadima; as promised, Olmert formally resigned, although he remained leader of an interim government until a new prime minister could be selected. He was succeeded by Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud on March 31, 2009, and, after a lengthy investigation, in August of that year Olmert was formally indicted on three counts of corruption.

 

 

Benjamin Netanyahu



Benjamin Netanyahu

Main
prime minister of Israel
Benjamin also spelled Binyamin, byname Bibi

born October 21, 1949, Tel Aviv [now Tel Aviv–Yafo], Israel

Israeli politician and diplomat, who twice served as his country’s prime minister (1996–99 and 2009– ).

In 1963 Netanyahu, the son of the historian Benzion Netanyahu, moved with his family to Philadelphia in the United States. After enlisting in the Israeli military in 1967, he became a soldier in the elite special operations unit Sayeret Matcal and was on the team that rescued a hijacked jet plane at the Tel Aviv airport in 1972. He later studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.B.A., 1976), taking time out to fight in the Yom Kippur War in Israel in 1973. After his brother Jonathan died while leading the successful Entebbe raid in 1976, Benjamin founded the Jonathan Institute, which sponsored conferences on terrorism.

Netanyahu held several ambassadorship positions before being elected to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) as a Likud member in 1988. He served as deputy minister of foreign affairs (1988–91) and then as a deputy minister in Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s coalition cabinet (1991–92). In 1993 he easily won election as the leader of the Likud party, succeeding Yitzhak Shamir in that post. Netanyahu became noted for his opposition to the 1993 Israel-PLO peace accords and the resulting Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The governing Labour Party entered the 1996 elections with weakened electoral appeal following Rabin’s assassination in November 1995 and a series of suicide bombings by Muslim militants early in 1996. Netanyahu eked out a victory margin of about 1 percent over Prime Minister Shimon Peres in the elections of May 29, 1996, the first in which the prime minister was directly elected. Netanyahu became the youngest person ever to serve as Israel’s prime minister when he formed a government on June 18.

Unrest dominated Netanyahu’s first prime ministership. Soon after he entered office, relations with Syria deteriorated, and his decision in September 1996 to open an ancient tunnel near Al-Aqsa Mosque angered Palestinians and sparked intense fighting. Netanyahu then reversed his earlier opposition to the 1993 peace accords and in 1997 agreed to withdraw troops from most of the West Bank town of Hebron. Pressure from within his coalition, however, led Netanyahu to announce his intention to establish a new Jewish settlement on land claimed by the Palestinians. He also significantly lowered the amount of land that would be handed over to the Palestinians during Israel’s next phase of withdrawal from the West Bank. Violent protests, including a series of bombings, ensued. In 1998 Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yāsir ʿArafāt participated in peace talks that resulted in the Wye Memorandum, the terms of which included placing as much as 40 percent of the West Bank under Palestinian control. The agreement was opposed by right-wing groups in Israel, and several factions in Netanyahu’s government coalition quit. In 1998 the Knesset dissolved the government, and new elections were scheduled for May 1999.

Netanyahu’s reelection campaign was hindered by a fragmented right wing as well as by voters’ growing dislike of his inconsistent peace policies and his often abrasive style. In addition, a series of scandals had plagued his administration, including his appointment in 1997 of Roni Bar-On, a Likud party functionary, as attorney general. Allegations that Bar-On would arrange a plea bargain for a Netanyahu ally who had been charged with fraud and bribery led to a series of confidence votes in the Knesset. With his core political support undermined, Netanyahu was easily defeated by Ehud Barak, leader of the Labour Party, in the 1999 elections.

Netanyahu was succeeded as head of Likud in 1999 by Ariel Sharon but remained a popular figure in the party. When early elections were called in 2001, Netanyahu, who had resigned his seat in the Knesset and thus was ineligible to run for prime minister, unsuccessfully challenged Sharon for leadership of the party. In Sharon’s government, Netanyahu served as foreign minister (2002–03) and finance minister (2003–05). In 2005 Sharon left Likud and formed a centrist party, Kadima; Netanyahu was subsequently elected leader of Likud and was the party’s unsuccessful prime ministerial candidate for the 2006 Knesset elections in which Likud secured only 12 seats to Kadima’s 29.

The election of February 2009 saw sizable Likud gains as Netanyahu led the party to 27 Knesset seats, finishing a single seat behind Kadima, led by Tzipi Livni. Because of the close and inconclusive nature of the results, however, it was not immediately clear which party’s leader would be invited to form a coalition government. Through the course of coalition discussions in the days that followed, Netanyahu gathered the support of Yisrael Beiteinu (15 seats), Shas (11 seats), and a number of smaller parties, and he was asked by Israel’s president to form the government, which was sworn in on March 31, 2009.

 


List of presidents of the State of Israel
 

#

Name

Term start

Term end

Political Party

1
Chaim Weizmann
17 May 1948
9 November 1952[1]
None
2
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
8 December 1952
23 April 1963[2]
Mapai
3
Zalman Shazar
21 May 1963
24 May 1973
Mapai
4
Ephraim Katzir
24 May 1973
19 April 1978
Alignment
5
Yitzhak Navon
19 April 1978
5 May 1983
Alignment
6
Chaim Herzog
5 May 1983
13 May 1993
Alignment
7
Ezer Weizman
13 May 1993
13 July 2000[3]
Labor
8
Moshe Katsav
1 August 2000
1 July 2007[4]
Likud
9
Shimon Peres
15 July 2007
Present
Kadima
  1. 1 David Ben-Gurion preceded Weizmann as Chairman of Provisional State Council, a position which he held from 14-17 May 1948. Weizmann's position remained as Chairman of Provisional State Council until 17 February 1949, when he was declared President by the first Knesset. Upon Weizmann's death on 9 November 1952, Knesset speaker Yosef Sprinzak took over as acting president until the appointment of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.
  2. 2  Upon Ben-Zvi's death on 23 April 1963, Knesset speaker Kadish Luz took over as acting president until the appointment of Zalman Shazar.
  3. 3  After Weizman resigned from the Presidency, Knesset speaker Avraham Burg took over as acting president until the appointment of Moshe Katsav.
  4. 4  After Katsav began a leave of absence due to police investigations on 25 January 2007, Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik took over as acting President. She continued in this role after Katsav's resignation came into effect on 1 July 2007 until Shimon Peres' inauguration on 15 July.

 

Chaim Weizmann


Chaim Azriel Weizmann


Main
Israeli president and scientist
in full Chaim Azriel Weizmann

born Nov. 27, 1874, Motol, Pol., Russian Empire [now in Belarus]
died Nov. 9, 1952, Reḥovot, Israel

first president of the new nation of Israel (1949–52), who was for decades the guiding spirit behind the World Zionist Organization.

Early life and education.
Chaim Azriel Weizmann was born of humble parents in November 1874, in Motol, a backwater hamlet in the western Russian empire, the third of 15 children of Ezer Weizmann, a lumber transporter. Motol lay close to dense forests, surroundings that instilled in the boy a love of trees that was to persist the rest of his life. He spent adolescent summers riding his father’s log rafts downriver to Baltic ports.

Despite slender means, the parents arranged for their offspring to receive the benefits of advanced education after strict Jewish orthodox schooling in childhood. All except one of the children ultimately became scientists, physicians, dentists, engineers, and pedagogues. Chaim himself, on reaching 11, was sent to the secondary school in nearby Pinsk, where his unusual scientific aptitude was encouraged by a discerning science master.

Upon matriculating (1891), the young student, irked by university quotas restricting Jewish admissions, left Russia to study chemistry in Germany and Switzerland, eking out small remittances from home by teaching science and Russian. After obtaining the Ph.D. magna cum laude at Fribourg, Switz. (1900), Weizmann taught chemistry at Geneva University and concurrently engaged in organic chemistry research, concentrating on dyestuffs and aromatics. By selling several patented discoveries in the late 1890s, he mitigated his chronic financial straits and was able to help his younger brothers and sisters through college. In 1900 he met Vera Chatzman, a medical student, in Geneva, and six years later they married; they had two sons.

Weizmann settled in England in 1904 upon taking up a science appointment at the University of Manchester. During World War I he gave valuable assistance to the British munitions industry, then (1916) in dire need of acetone (a vital ingredient of cordite), by devising a process to extract the solvent from maize. This achievement signally aided the Zionist political negotiations he was then conducting with the British government.

Although he gained international renown as a chemist, it was as a politician that he was most eminent. As a youth he imbibed Jewish nationalist culture and ideals (as distinct from traditional pietistic knowledge) under his father’s influence. At the age of 11 he wrote a letter in Hebrew to his Hebrew teacher in Motol urging with boyish fervour that the Jewish people must return to Zion.


Early political involvement.
Throughout his student and teaching years he assumed increasing dominance as a Zionist politician. He initially gained prominence as the leader of the “Young Zionist” opposition to Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, especially in the “Uganda dispute,” which erupted in 1903–05 over a British proposal for Jewish agricultural settlement in East Africa. Elected to the General Council (Actions Committee) in 1905, he played only a secondary role in the movement until 1914. Then, during the early years of the war he took an important part in the negotiations that led up to the government’s Balfour Declaration (November 1917) favouring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

While in Jerusalem he travelled to ʿAqaba, southern Transjordan (June 1918), where he met Amīr Fayṣal of Hejaz (later first king of Iraq) to discuss Jewish–Arab cooperation. They met again and reached written agreement during the Versailles peace conference (July 1919). As an observer, Weizmann attended the San Remo conference of Allied Powers (1920), which confirmed the Balfour Declaration and awarded the Palestine Mandate to Great Britain. The same year, Weizmann, who had been president of the English Zionist Federation from 1917, became head of the World Zionist Organization. From 1921 onward he travelled the world tirelessly, preaching Zionist ideology and appealing for funds at mass rallies.

Weizmann’s skill as a negotiator was severely tested during the 1920s. Great Britain, confronted by the mounting problems and civil disorders stemming from nascent Arab nationalism, gradually retreated from its commitment to foster a Jewish national home. A dauntless protagonist, Weizmann nevertheless plunged into the ceaseless imbroglios of British policy vacillations, Arab and Jewish revolts, and Zionist internecine feuds and conflicts that were commingled with opposition to himself by adversaries.


Conflict with Zionist extremists.
Eventually, Weizmann’s doctrines of caution antagonized extremist politicians. Exasperated by counsels of gradualism, some Zionists accused him of undue amenability toward Britain in his political thinking and performance—a characteristic they averred he owed to the genteel influences of the upper English society in which he moved. His control over the world nationalist movement was challenged after Britain announced policy changes unfavourable to Zionist work in Palestine. He therefore resigned in pique in 1930 but was prevailed upon to remain in office. At the 1931 congress, however, he was subjected to a vote of nonconfidence and was not reelected president of the Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency, the expanded body of which he had been the main architect in 1929.

Weizmann turned again to science, founding the Daniel Sieff Research Institute at Reḥovot, Palestine (1934), with the help of friends in England. Earlier, he had toured South Africa (1931) and played a leading part in public efforts to save German Jewry and its property after the advent of the Nazis (1933).

Back in office by election (1935), Weizmann supported the recommendation of a British royal inquiry commission (1937) to divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas, arguing that “half a loaf was better than none.” Opponents furiously challenged this expedience as pusillanimity and craven submission to British interests, though in the end the commission’s plan failed because of Arab rather than Jewish rejection.

Weizmann’s unflagging insistence during World War II brought about the formation of the Jewish Brigade Group in the British army. The Sieff Research Institute under his direction also aided the Allied military effort by providing essential pharmaceuticals, and Weizmann conferred with the United States and British governments on methods of producing synthetic rubber. His younger son, Michael, was killed in 1942 while serving as an officer in the Royal Air Force.

Zionist antagonists revived allegations of Weizmann’s pro-British prejudice after he had denounced (1945) on moral grounds the violent campaign waged by Jewish dissident groups against British forces in Palestine. He again lost the world Zionist presidency (1946) and never returned to the official leadership. Nevertheless, Jewish people as a whole continued to revere him.


President of Israel.
Early in 1948, though divested of formal office, he was sent to Washington by the Zionist leadership for crucial talks with Pres. Harry Truman. Weizmann persuaded the United States administration both to drop its trusteeship plan for Palestine—a plan that would have jeopardized founding the State of Israel—and to forego its proposal to exclude Palestine’s southern province (Negev) from Israel. His intervention also led to American recognition of the newly proclaimed state (May 14) and the grant of a $100,000,000 loan. That September Weizmann became president of the Provisional State Council and the following February was elected president of the State of Israel.

Worn out by sorrow and arduous political strife and afflicted by frail health and failing sight, he nevertheless maintained a brave front in postwar years. He died in November 1952, after a long illness. He was given a state burial on his estate at Reḥovot. More than 250,000 people filed by the catafalque. The simple, unadorned grave is visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Julian Louis Meltzer

 

 

Yitzhak Ben-Zvi



Yitzhak Ben-Zvi

 

Main
president of Israel
original name Isaac Shimshelevich

born Nov. 24, 1884, Poltava, Ukraine
died April 23, 1963, Jerusalem [Israel]

second president of Israel (1952–63) and an early Zionist leader in Palestine, who helped create the political, economic, and military institutions basic to the formation of the state of Israel.

A Zionist from his youth, Ben-Zvi in 1905 helped form the Russian Poale Zion, a socialistically oriented Zionist group that set an important ideological precedent for later institutions in Palestine and elsewhere and led to the formation of the Poale Zion World Federation in 1907. He settled in Palestine and in 1908 helped found ha-Shomer, a self-defense organization for Jewish agricultural settlements. In 1909 he founded in Jerusalem the first Hebrew high school in Palestine.

Exiled from Palestine in 1915 by the Turks, Ben-Zvi traveled to the United States, where with David Ben-Gurion, later prime minister of Israel, he founded Heḥalutz, a Zionist pioneer youth organization, and the Jewish Legion to fight alongside the British against the Germans and Turks in Palestine during World War I. He returned with the legion to Palestine in 1918 and two years later helped create the Histadrut, the General Federation of Labour, which became the dominant labour organization in Israel. He served as a member of Histadrut’s secretariat from 1920 to 1929, when he and Ben-Gurion founded the Mapai Party, which became the leading political force in the country. One of the creators of Vaʿad Leʿumi, the Jewish National Council representing 90 percent of the Jewish community during the British mandate in Palestine (1920–48), Ben-Zvi served as the council’s chairman from 1931 to 1944 and as its president from 1944 to 1949.

Ben-Zvi signed Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948, and was elected to the Knesset the following year. He became president of Israel in 1952, a position he held until his death. Also a noted scholar of Middle Eastern history and archaeology, he founded the Institute for Research of Jewish Middle Eastern Communities (now the Ben-Zvi Institute) in 1948 and directed it until 1960. He wrote a history of the Jews, The Exiled and the Redeemed (1958).

 

 

Zalman Shazar



Zalman Shazar

Main
president of Israel
original name Shneur Zalman Rubashev

born October 6, 1889, Mir, Belarus, Russian Empire [now Belarus]
died October 5, 1974, Jerusalem

Israeli journalist, scholar, and politician who was the third president of Israel (1963–73).

Shazar early became involved in the Zionist movement while a youth in Belarus. In 1905 he joined Po’alei Zion, a Zionist workers’ party, and was briefly imprisoned by tsarist authorities for his activities. In 1907 Shazar moved to Vilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania) and embarked on a career in journalism, writing for Yiddish newspapers in Russia and the United States. In 1912 he settled in Germany, where he studied history and philosophy at the Universities of Freiburg, Strasburg, and Berlin. Shazar first visited Palestine in 1911, returning there in 1920 as a member of the World Labour Zionist delegation. He settled in Tel Aviv–Yafo in 1924 and the following year helped found Davar, the daily newspaper published by the Labour Zionist movement; he served as its editor from 1938 to 1948. In 1949 he was appointed minister of education in independent Israel’s first government, resigning in 1950 to join the Jewish Agency executive. On May 21, 1963, the Knesset (parliament) elected him president to succeed Itzhak Ben-Zvi. He was reelected in 1968 and resigned in May 1973. Shazar was also a prolific writer, and his published works included poetry, biographies, and autobiographical fiction.

 

 

Ephraim Katzir



Ephraim Katzir

Main
president of Israel
original name Ephraim Katchalski

born May 16, 1916, Kiev, Ukraine, Russian Empire [now in Ukraine]
died May 30, 2009, Reḥovot, Israel

Russian-born scientist and politician who was the fourth president of Israel (1973–78).

Katzir moved with his family to Palestine when he was nine years old. After graduating from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he became an assistant in the university’s department of theoretical and macromolecular chemistry (1941–45). During this period he was also a research fellow at Columbia University in the United States and was active in the preindependence Jewish underground army, Haganah, to which he became scientific adviser. In 1949 he was appointed acting head of the department of biophysics in the Weizmann Institute of Science at Reḥovot, later becoming its director. A recognized authority on proteins, he was the first Israeli elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (1966). From 1966 to 1968 he was chief scientific adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Katzir was a member of the ruling Labour Party, and in 1973 he was elected president of Israel in a secret ballot of the Knesset (parliament). Although he had held no political office before, and despite the fact that his presidency bestowed no executive power, he did not remain silent on affairs of state. He attempted to close the wide gap that existed in education and social welfare between Sephardic and Oriental Jews and Ashkenazic Jews and to promote understanding between Israeli Jews and their Arab neighbours. After leaving office in 1978, Katzir returned to teaching and scientific research. In 2008 his autobiography, Sipur ḥayim (“A Life’s Tale”), was published

 

 

Yitzhak Navon



Yitzhak Navon

Yitzhak Navon (Hebrew: יצחק נבון‎, born 9 April 1921) is an Israeli politician, diplomat and author. He was the fifth President of Israel, as well as the first born in the future territory of the State, then the British Mandate of Palestine. The previous four Presidents were all born in the Russian Empire. He was the first Sephardi Jew to be elected to the presidency.

Born in Jerusalem, Navon is a multilingual descendant of a Sephardi family of rabbis. On his father's side, he is descended from Spanish Jews who settled in Turkey after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. The family (Baruch Mizrahi family or Al Mashraki) moved to Jerusalem in 1670. On his mother's side, he is descended from the renowned kabbalist Haim Ben Attar. The Ben-Atar family came from Morocco to Jerusalem in 1884.[1] Navon studied Hebrew literature and Islamic studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After serving in the Haganah in Jerusalem, he was sent by the Israeli foreign service to Uruguay and Argentina. Navon's wife Ofira, who was considerably younger than him, died of cancer. They had two children. His family later expanded and became spread around different countries including romania israel and a little of iran.
In 1978, Navon was elected fifth President of Israel. He was the first president with small children to move into Beit HaNassi, the presidential residence in Jerusalem. His wife, Ofira, was active in promoting the welfare of Israeli children.

Although the Israeli presidency is a ceremonial office, Navon was an outspoken advocate of a judicial commission of inquiry to probe Israel's role in the Sabra and Shatila massacre perpetrated by Lebanese Falangists in 1982.

In 1983, Navon turned down the opportunity to run for a second term of office. Instead he returned to politics, the first and only Israeli ex-president to do so. When the polls showed that Navon was more popular than Labor chairman Shimon Peres, Peres was pressured to step aside and allow Navon to take over the party leadership. Navon's fluency in the Arabic language made him especially popular among Arab and Mizrahi voters. But Navon did not accept the chairmanship. In 1984, he was elected to the Knesset and served as minister of education and culture from 1984 to 1990. He remained in the Knesset until 1992, after which he left politics.

 

 

Chaim Herzog



Chaim Herzog

Main
president of Israel

born September 17, 1918, Belfast, Ireland [now in Northern Ireland]
died April 17, 1997, Tel Aviv–Yafo, Israel

Irish-born Israeli politician, soldier, lawyer, and author. He was an eloquent and passionate spokesman for the Zionist cause and was instrumental in the development of Israel, both as a soldier and as the country’s longest-serving president (1983–93).

The son of Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog, Chaim grew up in Dublin before immigrating with his family to Palestine in 1935. The following year he joined the Haganah, the pre-Israel Jewish defense forces. Herzog later returned to Britain, studying law at the University of London, and served in the British army during World War II. In 1947 he rejoined the Haganah, and with the formation of Israel in 1948, Herzog fought against neighbouring Arab countries in the first Arab-Israeli war and was named head of the country’s military intelligence, a position he held until 1950 and again from 1959 to 1962. He rose to the rank of major general before retiring from the army in 1962 to practice law and pursue business ventures. With a series of radio broadcasts during the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War (1967), Herzog became one of the country’s foremost political and military commentators, and he was appointed the first military governor of the West Bank after its capture during that conflict. As ambassador to the United Nations (1975–78), he drew international attention for his passionate, though unsuccessful, campaign to defeat the resolution that equated Zionism with racism.

In 1981, as a member of the Israel Labour Party, Herzog was elected to the Knesset (parliament). Two years later he was nominated for president, a largely ceremonial post. Although the rival Likud Party controlled the Knesset, Herzog’s widespread popularity led to his narrow victory. Once in office, he increased the role of the president. Herzog traveled abroad and spoke before numerous foreign governments, improving Israel’s international image. He stressed tolerance, supporting greater rights for the Druze and other Arabs, and was an outspoken critic of the country’s electoral system. In 1988 he ran unopposed in his bid for reelection, winning a second term, the maximum allowed under Israeli law. A noted author, Herzog wrote extensively on Israeli history. His autobiography, Living History: A Memoir, was published in 1996.

 

 

Ezer Weizman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Ezer Weizman


Ezer Weizman (help·info) (Hebrew: עזר ויצמן‎, born 15 June 1924, died 24 April 2005) was the seventh President of Israel, first elected in 1993 and re-elected in 1998. Before the presidency, Weizman was commander of the Israeli Air Force and Minister of Defense.


Biography
Weizman was born in Tel Aviv as Ezer Weizmann on 15 June 1924. His father, Yechiel, was an agronomist. He grew up in Haifa, and attended Reali High School. He married Reuma Schwartz, and they had two children, Shaul and Michal. Shaul was badly injured by a sniper's bullet at the Suez Canal during the War of Attrition. In 1991, he and his wife Rachel were killed in a car accident. Weizman's sister, Yael, died in 2006. Weizman was a nephew of Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann. As he did not wish to be regarded as "the nephew of...", he dropped the last n off his family name.[citation needed] He died of respiratory failure at his home in Caesarea on April 24, 2005, at the age of 80. He is not buried on Mt. Herzl, where Israeli presidents and prime ministers are usually interred, but alongside his son and daughter-in-law in Or Akiva.


Ezer Weizman
 

Military career
Weizman was a combat pilot. He received his training in the British Army in which he enlisted in 1942 in order to fight the Nazis. He served as a truck driver in the Western Desert campaigns in Egypt and Libya. In 1943, he joined the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and attended aviation school in Rhodesia. He served with the RAF in India in early 1944. Weizman ended his service in the RAF as a sergeant pilot.

Between 1944 and 1946, he was a member of the Irgun underground in Mandatory Palestine. Between 1946 and 1947, he studied aeronautics in England.

Weizman, hailed as the father of the Israeli Air Force, was a pilot for the Haganah in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He was the commander of the Negev Air Squadron near Nir-Am. In May 1948, he learned to fly the Avia S-199 at the České Budějovice air base in Czechoslovakia and participated in Israel's first fighter mission, a ground attack on an Egyptian column advancing toward Ad Halom near the Arab town of Isdud south of Tel Aviv. In a famous battle between Israeli and British RAF aircraft on January 7, 1949, he flew one of four Israeli Spitfire fighters that clashed with 14 British Spitfires and Tempests following a reconnaissance flight from Egypt that infringed on Israel's southern border. Three planes were shot down by the IAF.

After the establishment of the State of Israel, Weizman joined the Israel Defense Forces and served as the Chief of Operations on the General Staff.

Weizman learned to fly warplanes such as Czech versions of the Messerschmitt and the Supermarine Spitfire.

In 1951 he attended the RAF Command and Staff College in England. Upon his return he became commander of the first Israeli air force unit flying Gloster Meteor jets.

He served as the commander of the Israeli Air Force between 1958 to 1966, and later served as deputy Chief of the General Staff. Major General Weizman earned high credit for his contribution as the Chief of Operations of the IDF in Israel's overwhelming victory over Arab forces during the Six-Day War of June 1967. He directed the early morning surprise air attacks against the Egyptian air bases, which resulted in giving the Israelis almost total air superiority over the Sinai battlefields.

Although he became the IDF's Deputy Chief of Staff in 1966, he retired from military service in 1969 when he understood he would not be appointed as Chief of Staff, the highest military position.



Anwar Sadat greets Ezer Weizman, Israeli Defense Minister
 

Political career
Upon retiring from the military, Weizman joined the right-wing Gahal party. He served as Minister of Transportation in Levi Eshkol's national unity government until Gahal left the coalition in 1970. Weizman quit Gahal in 1972, but returned in 1976, by which time it had become Likud. In 1977, he became Defense Minister under Menachem Begin. During his term, Israel launched the Litani Operation against the PLO in south Lebanon and developed the IAI Lavi fighter.

Over time, Weizman's views became more dovish. After the visit to Jerusalem of Egypt's president Anwar Sadat in 1977, Weizman developed a close friendship with him. These relations were a crucial factor in the talks that culminated in the 1978 Camp David accords, followed by a peace treaty with Egypt the following year.

In May 1980, Weizman quit the government. He considered establishing a new party with Moshe Dayan, which led to his ousting from Likud. For the next four years, he put politics on hold and entered the business world.

In 1984, he established a new party, Yachad, which won 3 seats in the 1984 elections. The party joined a national unity government in which Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir served as prime ministers in rotation. In October 1986, Yachad merged with the Alignment, after Mapam and Yossi Sarid left. Between 1984 and 1990, Weizman was Minister for Arab Affairs and then Minister of Science and Technology. In 1992, the Alignment became the Israeli Labor Party.

Presidency
Weizman was inaugurated on 13 May 1993. During his days in office, Israel went through a trying period, as Hezbollah and Hamas carried out terrorist attacks in cities around the country. Weizman faithfully visited the families of soldiers killed in the line of duty and families whose loved ones were killed or injured in terrorist attacks. He was a frequent visitor to hospitals, to cheer up the wounded. He was famous for his informal manner, and his outspokenness on controversial topics.

For the most part, the Israeli presidency is a ceremonial job. Presidents are expected to represent the entire nation and remain politically neutral. Weizman, unlike his predecessors, often flouted these conventions. In 1996, in an attempt to promote the peace process, Weizman invited Yasser Arafat for a private visit to his home in Caesarea. In 1999, he met with the DFLP leader Nayef Hawatmeh, declaring "I am even prepared to meet with the devil if it helps [to bring peace]." He openly supported withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria, drawing criticism from the right wing parties.

At the end of 1999, newspapers published allegations that Weizman had accepted large sums of money from businessmen before becoming president, without reporting this to the proper authorities. Although a decision was reached not to prosecute him, since the statute of limitations had expired, he was forced to resign due to public pressure. Weizman's resignation took effect on 13 July 2000.

 

 

Moshe Katsav


Moshe Katsav

Moshe Katsav (Hebrew: משה קצב‎, Persian: موسى قصاب Mūsā Qasāb, born 5 December 1945) is a former President of Israel and member of the Knesset.

The end of his term of President was marked by controversy, and from 25 January 2007 until his resignation on 1 July 2007, he was on a leave of absence amid impending charges of crimes stemming from his alleged rape of one female subordinate which were later dropped, but still later resumed, as well as the sexual harassment of others.

 

 

Shimon Peres

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Shimon Peres


Shimon Peres (help·info) (Hebrew: שמעון פרס‎, born Szymon Perski on 2 August 1923) is the ninth and current President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years. Peres was elected to the Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, served continuously until 2007, when he became President. In November 2008 he was presented with an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

Born in Wiszniewo, in Poland (now Belarus) in 1923, Peres moved with his family to Mandatory Palestine in 1934. He held several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after Israel's War of Independence. His first high level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952, and Director-General in 1953 through 1959. During his career, he has represented five political parties in the Knesset: Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima, and has led Alignment and Labour. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the peace talks which he participated in as Israeli Foreign Minister, producing the Oslo Accords. Peres was nominated in early 2007 by Kadima to run in that year's presidential election, being elected by the Knesset for the presidency on 13 June 2007 and sworn into office as the first former Prime Minister to be elected as President of Israel on 15 July 2007 for a seven-year term.


Biography

Early years
Shimon Peres was born on 2 August 1923 in Wiszniewo, Poland (now Višnieva, Belarus), to Yitzhak (1896-1962) and Sara (b. 1905 née Meltzer) Perski. The family spoke Hebrew, Yiddish and Russian at home, and Peres learned Polish at school. He now speaks English and French in addition to Hebrew. His father was a lumber merchant, later branching out into other commodities whilst his mother was a librarian. Peres has a younger brother, Gershon.

Peres's grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, a grandson of Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, had a great impact on his life. In an interview, Peres said: "As a child, I grew up in my grandfather’s home… I was educated by him… my grandfather taught me Talmud. It was not as easy as it sounds. My home was not an observant one. My parents were not Orthodox but I was Haredi. At one point, I heard my parents listening to the radio on the Sabbath and I smashed it."

British Mandate
In 1932, Peres' father immigrated to Palestine and settled in Tel Aviv. The family followed him in 1934. He attended Balfour Elementary School and High School, and Geula Gymnasium (High School for Commerce) in Tel Aviv. At 15, he transferred to Ben Shemen agricultural school and lived on Kibbutz Geva for several years. Peres was one of the founders of Kibbutz Alumot. In 1941 he was elected Secretary of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, a Labor Zionist youth movement, and in 1944 returned to Alumot, where he worked as a dairy farmer, shepherd and kibbutz secretary.


David Ben-Gurion (centre) walking with Shimon Peres (left), 1969.
 

Personal life
In 1945, Shimon Peres married Sonya (née Gelman), who has preferred to remain outside the public eye throughout his political career. They have three children: a daughter, Zvia Valdan, a linguist and professor at Beit Berl Teachers Training College; and two sons, Yoni (born 1952), director of Village Veterinary Center, a veterinary hospital on the campus of Kfar Hayarok Agricultural School near Tel Aviv, and Hemi, chairman of Pitango Venture Capital, one of Israel’s largest venture capital funds. Peres has 8 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Sonya Peres was unable to attend Shimon's inauguration ceremony due to ill health. Peres is a first cousin of actress Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Perski).

Military and defense
Shimon Peres talks to Donald Rumsfeld. Israeli Ambassador to the US David Ivry (center) joined them in the talks.In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel Defense Forces. David Ben-Gurion made him responsible for personnel and arms purchases. In 1952, he was appointed Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense, and in 1953, at the age of 29, became the youngest ever Director General of the Ministry of Defense. He was involved in arms purchases and establishing strategic alliances that were important for the State of Israel. Owing to Peres' mediation, Israel acquired the advanced Dassault Mirage III French jet fighter, established the Dimona nuclear reactor and entered into a tri-national agreement with France and the United Kingdom to initiate the 1956 Suez Crisis.


Shimon Peres andAriel Sharon
 

Political career

First steps in politics
Peres was first elected to the Knesset in the 1959 elections, as a member of the Mapai party. He was given the role of Deputy Defense Minister, which he fulfilled until 1965. Peres and Dayan left Mapai with David Ben-Gurion to form a new party, Rafi which reconciled with Mapai and joined the Alignment (a left-wing alliance) in 1968.

Political milestones in the 1970s
In 1969, Peres was appointed Minister of Immigrant Absorption and in 1970 became Minister of Transportation and Communications. In 1974, after a period as Information Minister, he was appointed Minister of Defense in the Yitzhak Rabin government, having been Rabin's chief rival for the post of Prime Minister after Golda Meir resigned in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. During this time, Peres continued to challenge Rabin for the chairmanship of the party, but in 1977, he again lost to Rabin in the party elections.

Peres succeeded Rabin as party leader prior to the 1977 elections when Rabin stepped down in the wake of a foreign currency scandal involving his wife. As Rabin could not legally resign from the transition government, he officially remained Prime Minister, while Peres became the unofficial acting Prime Minister. Peres led the Alignment to its first ever electoral defeat, when Likud under Menachem Begin won sufficient seats to form a coalition that excluded the left. After only a month on top, Peres assumed the role of opposition leader.

Political milestones in the 1980s
After turning back a comeback bid by Rabin in 1980 Peres led his party to another, narrower, loss in the 1981 elections.

In 1984, the Alignment won more seats than any other party but failed to muster the majority of 61 mandates needed to form a left-wing coalition. Therefore, the Alignment and Likud agreed on an unusual "rotation" arrangement in which Peres would serve as Prime Minister and the Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir would be Foreign Minister .

A highlight of this time in office was a trip to Morocco to confer with King Hassan II.

In rotation with Shamir
After two years, Peres and Shamir traded places. In 1986 he became foreign minister. In 1988, the Alignment led by Peres suffered another narrow defeat. He agreed to renew the coalition with the Likud, this time conceding the premiership to Shamir for the entire term. In the national unity government of 1988-1990, Peres served as Vice Premier and Minister of Finance. He and the Alignment finally left the government in 1990, after "the dirty trick" - A failed bid to form a narrow government based on a coalition of the Alignment, small leftist factions and ultra-orthodox parties.



Yāsir ʿArafāt (left), Shimon Peres (centre), and Yitzhak Rabin
with their Nobel Prizes for Peace, 1994.
 

Political milestones in the 1990s
From 1990, Peres led the opposition in the Knesset, until, in early 1992, he was defeated in the first primary elections of the new Israeli Labor Party (which had been formed by the consolidation of the Alignment into a single unitary party) by Yitzhak Rabin, whom he had replaced fifteen years earlier.

Peres remained active in politics, however, serving as Rabin's foreign minister from 1992 and without Rabin's knowledge, began illegal secret negotiations with Yasser Arafat's PLO organization. When Rabin found out, he let them continue. The negotiations led to the Oslo Accords, which would win Peres, Rabin and Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize.

After Rabin's assassination in 1995, Peres again became Prime Minister. During his term, Peres promoted the use of the Internet in Israel and created the first website of an Israeli prime minister. However, he was narrowly defeated by Benjamin Netanyahu in the first direct elections for Prime Minister in 1996.

In 1997 he did not seek re-election as Labor Party leader and was replaced by Ehud Barak. Barak rebuffed Peres's attempt to secure the position of party president and upon forming a government in 1999 appointed Peres to the minor post of Minister of Regional Co-operation. Peres played little role in the Barak government.

Political milestones in the 2000s
In 2000 Peres ran for a seven-year term as Israel's President, a ceremonial head of state position, which usually authorizes the selection of Prime Minister. Had he won, as was expected, he would have been the first ex-Prime Minister to be elected President. He lost however, to Likud candidate Moshe Katsav.

Following Ehud Barak's defeat by Ariel Sharon in the 2001 direct election for Prime Minister, Peres made yet another comeback. He led Labor into a national unity government with Sharon's Likud and secured the post of Foreign Minister. The formal leadership of the party passed to Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and in 2002 to Haifa mayor, Amram Mitzna. Peres was much criticized on the left for clinging to his position as Foreign Minister in a government that was not seen as advancing the peace process, despite his own dovish stance. He left office only when Labor resigned in advance of the 2003 elections. After the party under the leadership of Mitzna suffered a crushing defeat, Peres again emerged as interim leader. He led the party into coalition with Sharon once more at the end of 2004 when the latter's support of "disengagement" from Gaza presented a diplomatic program Labor could support.

Shimon Peres with Donald RumsfeldPeres won the chairmanship of the Labor Party in 2005, in advance of the 2006 elections. As party leader, Peres favored pushing off the elections for as long as possible. He claimed that an early election would jeopardize both the September 2005 Gaza withdrawal plan and the standing of the party in a national unity government with Sharon. However, the majority pushed for an earlier date, as younger members of the party, among them Ophir Pines-Paz and Isaac Herzog, overtook established leaders like Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Haim Ramon, in the party ballot to divide up government portfolios. It turned out that elections could not be held in June, as planned, when a scandal erupted over possible fraud in registering party members. The investigation of this scandal delayed elections until 9 November 2005.

Irrespective of before or after the delay, Peres continually led in the polls, defying predictions that rivals would overtake him. His bitter exchanges with opponents began when former Prime Minister Barak began backing the holding of primaries early that year, as Amir Peretz and Haim Ramon, two staunch anti-Barak Knesset members vowed to support Peres at any cost to defeat Barak. In a bizarre change of events, Peretz soon declared his own candidacy, a move viewed by Peres as the greatest betrayal.

Though Peres continued to trade nasty barbs with Barak in the newspapers, his feud with Peretz soon superseded that, especially when Barak pulled out of the race in early October. One of Peretz's main charges against Peres was that he neglected socio-economic affairs as a member of the Sharon government, and did not fulfill his statement that Labor had joined the coalition with only the intent of seeing through the Gaza Withdrawal. Peres lost the leadership election with 40% to Peretz's 42.4%.

Joining Kadima
On 30 November 2005 Peres announced that he was leaving the Labor Party to support Ariel Sharon and his new Kadima party. In the immediate aftermath of Sharon's debilitating stroke there was speculation that Peres might take over as leader of the party but most senior Kadima leaders, however, were former members of Likud and indicated their support for Ehud Olmert as Sharon's successor.

Labor reportedly tried to woo Peres back to the fold.] Peres announced, however, that he supported Olmert and would remain with Kadima. Media reports suggested that Ehud Olmert offered Peres the second slot on the Kadima list, but inferior cabinet positions to the ones that were reportedly offered to Tzipi Livni. Peres had previously announced his intention not to run in the March elections. Following Kadima's win in the election, Peres was given the role of Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev, Galilee and Regional Economy.



Shimon Peres
 

President of Israel
Shimon Peres in December 2007 reflecting on his legacy and whether he will seek a second term.
Peres with Condoleezza Rice at the Presidency hall in Jerusalem in 2007 Wikinews has related news: Shimon Peres discusses the future of Israel
On 13 June 2007, Peres was elected President of the State of Israel by the Knesset. 58 of 120 members of the Knesset voted for him in the first round (whereas 38 voted for Reuven Rivlin, and 21 for Colette Avital). His opponents then backed Peres in the second round and 86 members of the Knesset voted in his favor, while 23 objected. He resigned from his role as a Member of the Knesset the same day, having been a member since November 1959 (except for a three month period in early 2006), the longest serving in Israeli political history. Peres was sworn in as President on 15 July, 2007.

Shimon Peres meeting with Barack Obama in the Oval OfficeIn November 2008 Peres received an honorary knighthood of the Order of St. Michael and St. George from Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace in London.

Political views
Peres was at one time considered something of a hawk. He was a protégé of Ben-Gurion and Dayan and an early supporter of the West Bank settlers during the 1970s. However, after becoming the leader of his party his stance evolved. More recently he has been seen as a dove, and a strong supporter of the notion of peace through economic cooperation. While still opposed, like all mainstream Israeli leaders in the 1970s and early 1980s, to talks with the PLO, he distanced himself from settlers and spoke of the need for "territorial compromise" over the West Bank and Gaza. For a time he hoped that King Hussein of Jordan could be Israel's Arab negotiating partner rather than Yasser Arafat. Peres met secretly with Hussein in London in 1987 and reached a framework agreement with him, but this was rejected by Israel's then Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir. Shortly afterward the First Intifada erupted, and whatever plausibility King Hussein had as a potential Israeli partner in resolving the fate of the West Bank evaporated. Subsequently, Peres gradually moved closer to support for talks with the PLO, although he avoided making an outright commitment to this policy until 1993.

Peres was perhaps more closely associated with the Oslo Accords than any other Israeli politician (Rabin included) with the possible exception of his own protégé, Yossi Beilin. He has remained an adamant supporter of the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority since their inception despite the First Intifada and the al-Aqsa Intifada (Second Intifada). However, Peres supported Ariel Sharon's military policy of operating the Israeli Defence Forces to thwart suicide bombings.

Often, Peres acts as the informal "spokesman" of Israel (even when he is in the opposition) since he earned high prestige and respect among the international public opinion and diplomatic circles. Peres advocates Israel's security policy (military counter terror operations and the Israeli West Bank barrier) against international criticism and de-legitimation efforts from pro-Palestinian circles.

Peres' foreign policy outlook is markedly realist. For example, to placate Turkey, a Muslim country in the region with a history of being friendly towards Israel, Peres is reported to have explicitly denied the Armenian genocide. Calling Armenian allegations of genocide "meaningless," Peres further stated, "We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through but not a genocide." The Israeli Foreign Ministry, in addressing the controversy these remarks had created, later suggested that Peres had been misquoted, and that he "absolutely did not say, as the Turkish news agency alleged, 'What the Armenians underwent was a tragedy, not a genocide.'"

On the issue of the nuclear program of Iran and the existential threat this poses for Israel, Peres stated, "I am not in favor of a military attack on Iran, but we must quickly and decisively establish a strong, aggressive coalition of nations that will impose painful economic sanctions on Iran." He added, "Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear weapons should keep the entire world from sleeping soundly." In the same speech, Peres compared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his call to "wipe Israel off the map" to the genocidal threats to European Jewry made by Adolf Hitler in the years prior to the Holocaust. In an interview with Army Radio on 8 May 2006 he remarked that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map".

 


see also: United Nations member states -
Israel

 

 

Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

 
| privacy