Bar-Lev (Originally Brotzlewsky), Haim

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BAR-LEV (Originally Brotzlewsky), HAIM

BAR-LEV (Originally Brotzlewsky ), HAIM (1924–1994), eighth chief of staff of the idf and Israeli politician; member of the Ninth to Twelfth Knessets. Bar-Lev was born in Vienna, and immigrated to Palestine in 1939 from Yugoslavia. In 1942 he graduated from the Mikveh Israel agricultural school and served in the *Palmaḥ until 1948. In 1946 he participated in the detonation of the Allenby Bridge near Jericho, as part of the struggle against the British. In the War of Independence he served successively as commander of the Eighth Battalion in the Negev Brigade, commander of a mechanized battalion, and brigade operations officer. In 1956, after attending the Senior Officers' School in Britain, he became director of training in the General Staff. During the Sinai Campaign he commanded an armored brigade which reached the Suez Canal. In 1958–61 he was commanding officer of the Armored Corps. He then went to the United States for two years and studied for an M.A. in economics and business administration at Columbia University. After returning to Israel, he served in 1964–66 as head of the Operations Branch in the General Staff, after which he went to Paris to study political science. He was recalled the following year, however, and appointed deputy chief of staff on the eve of the Six-Day War. In 1968–72 he served as chief of staff. In this period the Bar-Lev Line was constructed as Israel's defensive system along the Suez Canal – a system which collapsed in the first days of the Yom Kippur War, largely due to complacency. In the course of the Yom Kippur War Bar-Lev was recalled to active service as commander of the front with Egypt.

Even though he was not elected to the Eighth Knesset, Bar-Lev was appointed by Golda *Meir as minister of commerce and industry and development in the government she formed in March 1974 – a post he continued to hold under Yitzhak *Rabin. Bar-Lev was elected on the Alignment list to the Ninth Knesset, and after the Alignment's electoral defeat was appointed secretary general of the Labor Party – a position he held until 1984. In this period he acted together with Party Chairman Shimon *Peres to rehabilitate the party's organization and finances. In the National Unity Government of 1984–90 Bar-Lev served as minister of police. In 1992, following the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia, Bar-Lev was appointed Israeli ambassador, a position he held until his death.


K. Guy, Bar-Lev (1998).

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]