Moshe Sharett

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Moshe Sharett
משה שרת
Sharet22.jpg
2nd Prime Minister of Israel
In office
26 January 1954 – 3 November 1955
President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Preceded by David Ben-Gurion
Succeeded by David Ben-Gurion
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
15 May 1948 – 18 June 1956
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
Himself
David Ben-Gurion
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by Golda Meir
Personal details
Born Moshe Shertok
(1894-10-16)16 October 1894
Kherson, Russian Empire
Died 7 July 1965(1965-07-07) (aged 70)
Jerusalem, Israel
Nationality  Russian Empire
 Ottoman Empire
 United Kingdom
 Israel
Spouse(s) Tzipora Meirov
Children 3
Alma mater Istanbul University
London School of Economics
Religion Judaism
Signature

Moshe Sharett (Hebrew: משה שרת‎, born Moshe Shertok (Hebrew: משה שרתוק)‎ 16 October 1894 – 7 July 1965)[1] was the second Prime Minister of Israel (1954–55), serving for a little under two years between David Ben-Gurion's two terms.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

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, even studying music at the Shulamit Conservatory. He then went off to Istanbul to study law at Istanbul University, the same university that Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and David Ben-Gurion studied at. However, his time there was cut short due to the outbreak of World War I. He subsequently served as a First Lieutenant in the Ottoman Army, as an interpreter.[2]

Post-World War I[edit]

After the war, he worked as an Arab affairs and land purchase agent for the Assembly of Representatives of the Yishuv. 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 worked on the Davar newspaper from 1925 until 1931.

In 1931, after returning to Palestine, he became the secretary of the Jewish Agency's political department. After the assassination of Haim Arlosoroff in 1933 he became its head, and he held that position until the formation of Israel in 1948.[3]

Israeli independence[edit]

Sharett was one of the signatories of Israel's Declaration of Independence. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, he was Foreign Minister for the Provisional Government of Israel. He was elected to the Knesset in the first Israeli election in 1949, and served as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this role he established diplomatic relations with many nations, and helped to bring about Israel's admission to 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 the reprisal operations being carried out by the Israeli military.

Sharrett met with Pius XII in 1952 in an attempt to improve relations with the Holy See, although this was to no avail.[4]

In December 1953 David Ben-Gurion retired from politics (temporarily as it turned out), and Sharett was chosen by the party to take his place. During his time as Prime Minister the Arab-Israeli tensions intensified, particularly with ascent of the Pan-Arabist Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt.

The Lavon Affair: An Israeli Covert Operation by IDF Intelligence fails[edit]

Sharett was not informed of the Lavon Affair, an operation not by the professionals of MOSSAD, but by operatives of IDF intelligence (headed by Colonel Benjamin Givli), inexperienced in covert operations. The plan was to recruit Egyptian Jews to commit acts of terrorism in Egypt which included American targets (an American Information Library was destroyed by fire, and firebombs were also activated at some Egyptian Post Offices). This was a false flag operation, and literature of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Communists was left at the sites to make it appear that they were behind the terrorist acts. The ultimate goal was to bring down the Nasser government and destroy Nasser politically. Whether Lavon approved or even knew of the operation was the main controversy, ultimately it led to the downfall of both Lavon and David Ben-Gurion.

Several serious errors in the planning and execution of Operation Suzannah occurred. One such error was recruiting friends who knew each other as the operatives. This allowed the capture of the entire ring once one of its members was captured. Egypt announced that the plotters would be put on trial.

Sharett, being unaware that Israel had planned and ordered the operation, gave a speech in the Knesset in which he labeled as "blood libel" and "antisemitism" the accusations against those indicted in the Cairo trials. Sharett later lamented that he had denied this publicly and been made to appear as a liar in front of the whole world. One immediate result was the resignation of Pinhas Lavon, the Defense Minister, who was implicated as the one who gave the order to proceed. It also marked the beginning of the end of Sharett's tenure as Prime Minister.[5][6] After Lavon's resignation, 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.[7][8][9][10]

Retirement[edit]

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 in Jerusalem and was buried in Tel Aviv's Trumpeldor Cemetery.[11][12]

Legacy[edit]

Moshe Sharett on 20 NIS banknote

Sharett's personal diaries, first published by his son Yaakov in 1978, have proved to be an important source for Israeli history.[13] In 2007, the Moshe Sharett Heritage Society, the foundation that Yaakov established to care for Sharett's legacy, discovered a file of thousands of passages that had been omitted from the published edition.[13] They included "shocking revelations" about the defense minister Pinhas Lavon.[14] A new edition was published that was complete apart from a few words still classified.[14]

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.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Louise Fischer (ed.), Moshe Sharett: The Second Prime Minister, Selected Documents (1894–1965), (Israel State Archives, Jerusalem, 2009) ISBN 978-965-279-035-4
  • Gabriel Sheffer: Moshe Sharett: Biography of a Political Moderate. (New York: Clarendon Press of Oxford University Press, 1996), ISBN 0-19-827994-9.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=672
  2. ^ "Moshe Sharett". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  3. ^ "Jewish Zionist Education". Jafi.org.il. 2005-05-15. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  4. ^ "Israel-Vatican Diplomatic Relations". Mfa.gov.il. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  5. ^ Rokach, Livia (1986). ISRAEL'S SACRED TERRORISM: A Study Based on Moshe Sharett's Personal Diary and Other Documents (3rd ed.). AAUG Press. ISBN 0937694703. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  6. ^ Golan, Aviezer (1978). Operation Susannah (1st ed.). Joanna Cotler Books. ISBN 0060115556. 
  7. ^ http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_762509986/moshe_sharett.html
  8. ^ "Moshe Sharett". Mfa.gov.il. 2003-03-02. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  9. ^ "Knesset Member, Moshe Sharett". Knesset.gov.il. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  10. ^ Erskine B. Childers, The Road to Suez- A study in Western-Arab relations. Macgibbon & Kee, Bristol. 1962. page 184: Suggests Sharett's resignation as Foreign Minister on 18 June 1956 was due to his opposition to plans for military action against Egypt.
  11. ^ "Where did Moshe Sharett die? - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. 1965-07-07. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  12. ^ "Moshe Sharett The Second Prime Minister". Pmo.gov.il. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  13. ^ a b Tom Segev (Aug 23, 2007). "Unpublished Sharett diaries dig deeper into defense minister Lavon". Haaretz. 
  14. ^ a b Tom Segev (Aug 23, 2007). "Up to no good". Haaretz. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
David Ben-Gurion
Prime Minister of Israel
1953–55
Succeeded by
David Ben-Gurion
Party political offices
Preceded by
David Ben-Gurion
Leader of Mapai
1954–55
Succeeded by
David Ben-Gurion