Harel, Yisrael

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HAREL, YISRAEL (1938– ), Israeli journalist and settlement leader. Born in Chernowitz, near Kovina, Ukraine, Harel emigrated to Palestine in 1947. He fought in the 1967 and 1973 wars, participating in the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem. In 1968 he was appointed managing editor of the revisionist daily Ha-Yom, and the following year joined Maariv as deputy editor of its weekend section. His employment was interrupted after he moved to the then illegal settlement of Ofra in 1976, and he subsequently joined Yedioth Aharonoth as a writer-at-large. A founding member of the Greater Israel movement, in 1980 he established the Council of Settlements of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, acting as its secretary-general for the first seven years, and its chairman for the next eight years, to 1995. Harel's period at the council was characterized by intensive settlement activity (the number of settlements increasing from 20 in 1980 to 140 by the time he left) and by a pragmatic approach in the council's dealings with successive Labor and Likud governments.

Harel also founded and edited Nekudah, the council's monthly journal. Originally a magazine reporting the manifold activities of different settlements, it evolved into an intellectual journal campaigning for Jewish settlement, often featuring controversial writing, its voice influencing the nationalist agenda. While many of its contributors and readers were within the religious strata of the settlement movement, they also extended to the mainstream Israeli populations, including people identified with the Left. Never making a profit, its circulation hovered around 7,000.

Against the background of the Rabin assassination, Harel established the Forum for National Responsibility as a framework for dialogue between religious and secular Jews, which produced the so-called Kinneret memorandum. He wrote a book on religious Zionism.

[Yoel Cohen (2nd ed.)]