Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Moshe Sharett

Diplomat, writer and politician, Moshe Sharett (originally Shertok), the second Prime Minister of Israel, moved with his family to British Mandate Palestine from the Ukraine in 1908, when he was 12 years old. After a brief stay in a small Arab village, the Sharetts moved to Jaffa and became one of the founding families of the city of Tel Aviv. Sharett graduated from Herzliya Gymnasium, the first Hebrew language high school in Palestine.

When Sharett’s law studies in Istanbul were interrupted by World War I, he served in the Turkish army as a translator. Returning home after the war, Sharett began his career working for some of the organizations that would eventually form the government of the State of Israel.

Sharett studied at the London School of Economics (1922 - 1924), after which he assumed the editorship of several Zionist publications. At the outbreak of World War II, Sharett helped establish the British Army’s Jewish Brigade, which had an essential secondary mission of helping European Jews immigrate to Palestine.

Sharett was at the United Nations when the UN member nations voted in favor of partitioning the British Mandate of Palestine in 1947, and he signed Israel’s Declaration of Independence in May 1948. Serving as Israel’s first Foreign Minister, Sharett not only set up the foreign affairs office, but dealt with cease-fire negotiations and arranging Holocaust reparations from Germany.

In 1954, when Ben-Gurion retired, Sharett, as head of the Mapai party, became Prime Minister and served for a little under two years. It was a trying time of increasing tension, particularly with Egypt, and Sharett, who favored negotiations over action, was at odds with the other leaders of his party.  Ben-Gurion came out of retirement at the end of 1955 and returned to serve as Prime Minister. Sharett remained as Foreign Minister for six months before leaving government. During his retirement, he became the head of the Am Oved (“Working Nation”) publishing house, the chairman of the Beit Berl College and chairman of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency.

Moshe Sharett passed away at the age of 70 on 7 Tammuz in 1965.

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