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Shulamit Aloni

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Shulamit Aloni
שולמית אלוני
Shulamit Aloni in 1970
Ministerial roles
1974Minister without Portfolio
1992–1993Minister of Education and Culture
1993Minister without Portfolio
1993–1996Minister of Communications
1993–1996Minister of Science and the Arts
Faction represented in the Knesset
1965–1967Labor Alignment
1967–1968Labor Party
1975–1976Ya'ad – Civil Rights Movement
Personal details
Shulamit Adler

(1927-12-27)27 December 1927
Włocławek, Poland[1]
Died24 January 2014(2014-01-24) (aged 86)
Kfar Shmaryahu, Israel
SpouseReuven Aloni
Alma materHebrew University, L.L.B | David Yellin College of Education, BA

Shulamit Aloni (Hebrew: שולמית אלוני‎; 27 December 1927 – 24 January 2014)[2] was an Israeli politician. She founded the Ratz party, was leader of the Meretz party, Leader of the Opposition from 1988 to 1990, and served as Minister of Education from 1992 to 1993. In 2000, she won the Israel Prize.


Early life[edit]

Shulamit Adler was born in Poland.[3] Her mother was a seamstress and her father was a carpenter, both descended from Polish rabbinical families. The family migrated to Mandatory Palestine when she was a child, and Aloni grew up in Tel Aviv. She was sent to boarding school during World War II while her parents served in the British Army. As a youth she was a member of the socialist Zionist Hashomer Hatzair youth movement and the Palmach. During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, she was involved in military struggles for the Old City of Jerusalem and was captured by Jordanian forces.[4] Following the establishment of the state of Israel, she worked with child refugees and helped establish a school for immigrant children. She taught in a school while studying law.[5] After her marriage in 1952 to Reuven Aloni, the founder of Israel Lands Administration, she moved to Kfar Shmaryahu.

Aloni joined Mapai in 1959. She also worked as an attorney, hosted a radio show called After Working Hours giving legal advice to ordinary Israelis and wrote columns for the newspaper Yediot Ahronoth and the weekly LaIsha.[6][7]

Political career[edit]

Aloni in the Knesset in 1965.

In 1965, Aloni was elected to the Knesset on the list of the Alignment, an alliance of Mapai and Ahdut HaAvoda, and subsequently founded the Israel Consumers Council, which she chaired for four years. She left the Alignment in 1973 and established the Citizens Rights Movement, which became known as Ratz. The party advocated electoral reform, separation of religion and state and human rights and won three seats in the 1973 Knesset elections. Ratz initially joined the Alignment-led government with Aloni as Minister without Portfolio but she resigned immediately in protest at the appointment of Yitzhak Rafael as Minister of Religions. Ratz briefly became Ya'ad – Civil Rights Movement when independent MK Aryeh Eliav joined the party, but returned to its original status soon after. [citation needed]

Throughout the 1970s Aloni attempted to create a dialogue with Palestinians in hopes of achieving a lasting peace settlement. During the 1982 Lebanon War she established the International Center for Peace in the Middle East. In the run-up to the 1984 elections, Ratz aligned with Peace Now and the Left Camp of Israel to increase its size in the Knesset to five seats. In 1992, she led Ratz into an alliance with Shinui and Mapam to form the new Meretz party,[8] which won 12 seats under her leadership in the elections that year. Aloni became Minister of Education under Yitzhak Rabin but was forced to resign after a year due to her outspoken statements on matters of religion. As Education Minister, she also criticized organized tours by Israeli high school pupils to Holocaust concentration camps on grounds that such visits were turning Israeli youth into aggressive, nationalistic xenophobes, claiming that students "march with unfurled flags, as if they've come to conquer Poland".[9] She was reappointed Minister of Communications and Science and Culture.

After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, Aloni expressed her sentiments that the agreements were a positive turning point on an historic scale: "I feel like on the 29th of November [the date of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine]; we did not know then what we were heading for, but we knew we were heading for great days."[10]

After the massacre of 29 Muslims in Hebron, West Bank on February 25, 1994, perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein, Aloni called for the expulsion of Jewish settlers from Hebron.[11]

After the 1996 Knesset election, in which Meretz lost three of its seats, Aloni was ousted from Meretz leadership, with Yossi Sarid being elected to succeed her as leader of Meretz. She then retired from politics.

Last years[edit]

In a 2002 interview with American journalist Amy Goodman, Aloni said that accusations of antisemitism are "a trick we use" to suppress criticism of Israel coming from within the United States, while for criticism coming from Europe "we bring up the Holocaust."[12][13]

Aloni was a board member of Yesh Din, an organisation founded in 2005 which focuses on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Personal life[edit]

With her husband, Reuven Aloni, she had three sons:

Reuven Aloni died in 1988.[14]

She was an atheist.[15]

Shulamit Aloni Prize[edit]

In 2018, the Shulamit Aloni Prize was established.[16] The prize is awarded by the Shulamit Aloni Foundation, a non-profit organization created by a group of Aloni's family members and leading media and cultural professionals for this purpose.[17] The prize, which bears a monetary award, is bestowed to its recipients each year in the Jaffa Theater (aka The Arab-Hebrew Theater), to creators of cultural works (theater, film, poetry and prose) in both Hebrew and Arabic whose work promotes human rights.[18][19] Inaugural prize recipients included Rana Abu Fraihah (Arabic Culture Prize), Renana Raz (Hebrew Culture Prize) and Sami Michael (Lifetime Achievement Prize).[20] Additional prize recipients include Ayat Abou Shmeiss for Arabic Culture, and Achinoam Nini for Lifetime Achievement.[21]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Published works[edit]

  • The Citizen and His Country, 1958
  • Children's Rights in Israel,1964 (Hebrew)
  • The Arrangement - From a State of Law to a State of Religion, on Relations Between State and Religion, 1970 (Hebrew)
  • Women as Human Beings, 1976 (Hebrew)
  • "Up the down escalator" in Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology, ed. Robin Morgan, 1984.[25]
  • Democracy in Shackles (Demokratia be'azikim), Am Oved (in Hebrew)[26]
  • Israel: Democracy or Ethnocracy? published in 2008

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shulamit Aloni". jwa.org. Retrieved 2024-07-04.
  2. ^ Mira Bar-Hillel (29 January 2014). "Shulamit Aloni: Politician who championed human rights and was fiercely critical of Israel's treatment of Palestine". The Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Shulamit Aloni". Jewish Women's Archive. 2021-06-23. Retrieved 2024-07-02.
  4. ^ Shulamit Aloni Jewish Virtual Library; accessed January 25, 2014.
  5. ^ "Shulamit Aloni | Jewish Women's Archive". jwa.org. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  6. ^ Slater, Elinor; Slater, Robert (1994). Great Jewish Women. Jonathan David Publishers. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8246-0370-0.
  7. ^ Morgan, Robin (2016-03-08). Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology. Open Road Media. ISBN 978-1-5040-3324-4.
  8. ^ "Shulamit Aloni | Israeli politician". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  9. ^ Tom Hundley (9 May 1993). "2 Views Of A Horror". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Shulamit (Adler) Aloni (Hebrew)". palmach.org.il. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  11. ^ Rudoren, Jodi (2014). "Shulamit Aloni, Outspoken Israeli Lawmaker, Dies at 86". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  12. ^ Israel's First Lady of Human Rights: A Conversation with Shulamit Aloni democracynow.org; 14 August 2002; accessed 20 October 2015.
  13. ^ Minto, John (June 7, 2019). "Don't be caught out by 'the trick'". Scoop. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  14. ^ Yaron Druckman (24 January 2014). "Former minister Shulamit Aloni dies at the age of 85". Ynetnews. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Aloni is an outspoken atheist who has been a very controversial figure in Israeli politics. As former Minister of Education, her efforts to secularize instruction in Israeli state schools had drawn the ire of the Orthodox rabbinate which possesses great political clout in Israel. In a country where conflicts between secular and religious Jews has intensified in recent years she has been unabashedly on the side of secularism. " Celebatheists – Shulamit Aloni
  16. ^ "קרן שולמית אלוני ותיאטרון יפו יעניקו פרס חדש ליוצרים ערבים ויהודים". הארץ (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  17. ^ "פרס היצירה על שם שולמית אלוני | עדכון חדשות". הטלוויזיה החברתית (in Hebrew). 2018-04-04. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  18. ^ ""אפשר גם אחרת": פרס שולמית אלוני יוענק לאמנים ויוצרים". וואלה! חדשות (in Hebrew). 2018-06-09. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  19. ^ "לחתור נגד רוח התקופה: פרס יצירה חדש על שם שולמית אלוני". שיחה מקומית (in Hebrew). 2018-07-03. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  20. ^ "רננה רז ורנא אבו־פריחה זכו בפרס שולמית אלוני ליצירות עבריות וערביות". הארץ (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  21. ^ "פרס היצירה עש שולמית אלוני". YouTube. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  22. ^ "List of recipients of the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award on the Association of Human Rights in Israel website" (in Hebrew). Archived from the original on 19 August 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
  23. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew)".
  24. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew) – Judges' Rationale for Grant to Recipient".
  25. ^ "Table of Contents: Sisterhood is global". Catalog.vsc.edu. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  26. ^ Yair Sheleg (23 November 2008). "The road to perdition". Haaretz. Retrieved 27 January 2014.

External links[edit]