Harkavi, Yitzhak

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HARKAVI, YITZHAK (Isaac ; 1915–2001), Zionist leader and educator. Born in Bialystok, Poland, he emigrated to Moisesville, Argentina, in 1926. He studied law in Santa Fe and was a teacher in the Hebrew schools of Moisesville and Santa Fe. In 1939 he moved to Buenos Aires where he worked as a teacher in the Jewish schools of the Cursos Religiosos network, and when Natan Bistritzky arrived in Argentina (1942), Harkavi directed the jnf office. An activist in the Poa'lei Zion Hitaḥdut party (connected to *Mapai – Labor Party in Ereẓ Israel) during the 1930s, he emerged as one of the key leaders of the Zionist Movement in Argentina. Harkavi promoted democratization of the Zionist Movement and addressing the youth, including direct elections and representation. He represented his Zionist party at the Central Zionist Council in Argentina from 1943, in daia, and in Vaad Hachinuḥ – Board of Jewish Education of amia (Jewish Ashkenazi Community of Buenos Aires). Harkavi was general secretary of the first Latin American Zionist Congress, held in Montevideo in 1945, and in the early 1950s was appointed president of the Central Zionist Council.

As teacher and director (from 1946) of the Buenos Aires Bialik Hebraist school, one of the most important Zionist schools in Argentina, Harkavi contributed enormously to the increasing influence of the young State of Israel in Jewish schools and communities in South America through the promotion of the Hebrew language. He also established the icai – Cultural Institute Argentina-Israel (in 1952) – under the sponsorship of the Israeli diplomatic representation. In 1950 he was appointed representative of the Jewish Agency for Latin America. Before moving to Israel in 1954 he succeeded in bringing an Israeli shali'aḥ as director for the Bialik school.

In Israel Harkavi was appointed the general secretary of the Mapai-Ichud Olami Party (1954–60) and Israeli ambassador to Uruguay (1960–63) and to Brazil (1968–73). He also served as a member of the Zionist Executive Council and head of the Department for Jewish Education and Culture in the Diaspora of the World Zionist Organization (1963–68).

[Yossi (Jorge) Goldstein (2nd ed.)]