Avraham Ofer

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Avraham Ofer
Date of birth 1922
Place of birth Chorostków, Poland
Year of aliyah 1933
Date of death 3 January 1977
Place of death Tel Aviv, Israel
Knessets 7, 8
Faction represented in Knesset
1969–1977 Alignment
Ministerial roles
1974–1977 Minister of Housing

Avraham Ofer (Hebrew: אברהם עופר‎, 1922 as Avraham Hirsch – 3 January 1977) was an Israeli politician, famous for committing suicide following the eruption of a corruption scandal.[1]

Biography[edit]

Ofer was born in the Chorostków shtetl in Poland (today in Ukraine) in 1922, and immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1933. He went to High School in Jerusalem and studied in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1937 he joined the Haganah and in 1942 he was among the founders of Kibbutz Hamadia. In 1944 he was one of the founders of the Young Leadership in Mapai and among of founders and first Director of HaKfar HaYarok.[2]

In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War he served in the Israeli Navy as Lieutenant Colonel, and was the first commander of the Eilat Naval Base. In 1952 he was elected Secretary of Mapai in Tel Aviv District. In 1958 he joined the Agriculture Ministry, established the Poultry Council and became Deputy Director General for Economic Affairs. In 1964 he was a member of the delegation that conducted negotiations with the European Community and at the end of that year he was appointed General Manager of "Ashdod Company". In 1965 he was elected to the Tel Aviv City Council and was Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv from until 1967, when he was appointed Managing Director of "Shikun Ovdim".

In 1969 he was elected to the 7th Knesset for the Alignment. He is known for his amendment to the election law, initiated along with Gahal's Yohanan Bader, which adapted the D'Hondt method, effective since the 8th Knesset. In 1973 he was appointed Minister of Housing by Yitzhak Rabin.[3]

The scandal[edit]

In November 1976, Yigal Laviv, a correspondent of the weekly Haolam Hazeh who had also been involved in airing the charges against Asher Yadlin, gave the police information on 30 different matters raising suspicions of offenses committed by Ofer, including allegations of embezzlement in Shikun Ovdim funds in favor of the party. The police examined Laviv's charges, but came to the conclusion toward the end of the year that they were not substantiated, leading Ofer to expect that an official statement clearing him would soon be made. However, Attorney General Aharon Barak decided to continue with the investigation based on a new testimony.

On 31 December, however, a witness in the Yadlin affair sent the police a statement which raised more questions for investigation, and various rumors were published about possible charges. On 2 January, Prime Minister Rabin and Justice Minister Zadok assured Ofer that everything possible would be done to expedite the inquiry.[4]

Suicide[edit]

If the Yadlin affair could be seen as a farce, Ofer's story ended in tragedy. On January 3, his body was found in his car on a Tel Aviv beach. In a suicide note Ofer said he was innocent, but did not have the strength "to bear any more." He was reported to have been particularly depressed by the lack of support from his political associates.[4]

Rabin delivered the eulogy at Ofer's funeral. Speaking to the country's political elite at a crowded service in Tel Aviv, Rabin recalled how Ofer had come to him to discuss the accusations in what turned out to be their final meeting. "Your words still ring in my ears," the Premier said. ' 'Yitzhak,' you told me, 'believe me, I am not guilty of any transgressions.' I replied to you, Avraham, that I, Yitzhak Rabin, wholly trust in your innocence."[5]

The succession of scandals led Rabin's opponents to charge that he lacks the ability to lead, and in the 1977 elections the Alignment indeed lost. After his death, the charges were dropped and Ofer's guilt was never proven. Today, his suicide is often seen as a display of civil servant shame that is missing in contemporary Israeli politicians.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History of the Eighth Knesset". Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  2. ^ "Avraham Ofer". edulink.co.il (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  3. ^ "The Knesset in the Government System". Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  4. ^ a b Karlikow, Abraham. "Israel N,". Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  5. ^ "Suicide, Scandal and Political Chaos". Time. 1977-01-17. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  6. ^ Ahimei, Yaakov (2007-12-29). "The Life and Death of Shame". nrg (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2007-12-29. 

External links[edit]