Kollek, Theodore 1911-2007 (Teddy Kollek)

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Kollek, Theodore 1911-2007 (Teddy Kollek)


See index for CA sketch: Born May 27, 1911, in Vienna, Austria; died January 2, 2007, in Jerusalem, Israel. Politician and author. Kollek was best remembered as the former mayor of Jerusalem and was also considered a founding father of Israel. Born to Zionist parents and named after the founder of the movement in Vienna, he seemed destined for the path he followed in life. After the German invasion of Austria, he joined the Jewish underground, which helped refugees escape to Palestine. He himself moved to Palestine in 1935, where he was a founder of the Ein Gev kibbutz in 1937. He lived there until the onset of World War II, when he returned to Europe. In 1938, Kollek was in England to help establish a Zionist youth movement, but the next year he was back in Vienna. Here he was part of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and he resumed work helping Jewish refugees escape the Holocaust. At one point, he managed to get three thousand Jews out of Austria at one time with the help of a German officer he learned, after the war, was actually the notorious Adolf Eichmann. It was during World War II that Kollek came to believe that he must get involved in the creation of a nation state for his people. He worked to smuggle British weapons to Palestine and, in an act for which he was later sometimes criticized, cooperated with the British by giving them the names of Jewish terrorists in Palestine. Kollek justified this by saying that he wished to form a legitimate Israeli government that was not based on terrorist tactics. After Israel was established in 1948, he continued with his weapons smuggling operations in preparation for what he felt was the inevitable Arab invasion of the newly formed country. Kollek was assigned to the U.S. desk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the next two years. He then was named minister at the Israel Embassy in Washington, DC. Returning to Israel in 1952, Kollek was director-general of the prime minister's office until 1964. One of his best remembered acts during this time was his work with the CIA in secreting out a speech by Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev that indicated a strong policy shift away from the harsh era of Stalinism. While working under Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Kollek was actively involved in many initiatives to improve his country. From organizing aid for desalination plants and establishing broadcast networks to his leadership in founding the Israel Museum, Kollek seemed to have a hand in almost every aspect of Israeli life. He was asked by Ben-Gurion to run for mayor of Jerusalem, which he did, winning the office in 1965. At the time, Israel possessed only part of the city, but East Jerusalem was annexed after the 1967 war. Though the annexation was not officially recognized by most nations around the world, Kollek proceeded to run the entire city. He admittedly did not like the fact that so many Arabs lived within city limits, preferring an all-Jewish city, but he nonetheless proved a pragmatic mayor. Kollek recognized that the city was diverse and tried his best to foster peace between Jews and Muslims by providing city services to all citizens. Kollek served as mayor of Jerusalem until finally losing an election in 1993. Afterwards, he focused his attentions on the Jerusalem Foundation, which he established in 1966, and the Israel Museum. Kollek was also the author or coauthor of several books, most about his beloved city. Among these are Jerusalem: A History of Forty Centuries (1968), written with Moshe Pearlman, and My Jerusalem: Twelve Walks in the World's Holiest City (1990), written with Shulamith Eisner. He wrote his autobiography, For Jerusalem: A Life (1978) with his son Amos.



Kollek, Teddy, and Amos Kollek, For Jerusalem: A Life, Random House (New York, NY), 1978.


Chicago Tribune, January 3, 2007, Section 2, p. 11.

New York Times, January 3, 2007, p. C17; January 11, 2007, p. A2.

Times (London, England), January 3, 2007, p. 54.

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Kollek, Theodore 1911-2007 (Teddy Kollek)

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