Ben-Porat (Kazaz), Mordekhai

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BEN-PORAT (Kazaz), MORDEKHAI (1923– ) Israeli politician, member of the Sixth to Eighth and Tenth Knessets. Ben-Porat was born in Baghdad. In 1942 he joined the Ḥalutz movement in Iraq and immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1945. In 1947 he joined the *Haganah. He fought in the War of Independence, and finished the first officers' course in the idf in 1948. In 1949 he returned to Iraq to prepare over 120,000 Iraqi Jews for immigration to Israel. He remained in Iraq for two years and was detained by the Iraqi authorities four times, each time managing to escape – the last time after being tortured.

In 1955 he was elected as head of the Or-Yehuda local council, a position he held until 1969. He was the founder and first chairman of the Center for the Heritage of Babylonian Jewry in Or-Yehuda. He was one of the founders of *Rafi and was elected on its list to the Sixth Knesset in 1965. Following the foundation of the Israel Labor Party in 1968, he was elected to the Knesset on the Alignment list, and in 1970–72 was deputy secretary general of the Labor Party. He was elected on the Alignment list to the Seventh and Eighth Knesset, but left the parliamentary group in March 1977 and continued to serve as an independent mk. In 1975 he was one of the founders of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries, becoming one of its chairmen. In 1977 he was member of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations. In 1979, after the rise to power in Iran of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Ben-Porat was sent to Teheran to help Jews leave the country. In 1981 he was elected to the Tenth Knesset on behalf of Telem, a party formed by Moshe *Dayan a short time before his death, and a year later was appointed minister without portfolio in Menaḥem *Begin's second government. In June 1983 Telem broke up, and Ben-Porat established a parliamentary group by the name of the Movement for Social Zionist Renewal. In January 1984 he resigned from Yitzḥak *Shamir's government, demanding that a National Unity Government be formed. He joined the Likud in 1988.

He wrote Le-Bagdad ve-Ḥazarah (1996; To Baghdad and Back: The Miraculous 2000Year Homecoming of the Iraqi Jews, 1998).

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]

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Ben-Porat (Kazaz), Mordekhai

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