Herzog, Chaim

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HERZOG, CHAIM

HERZOG, CHAIM (1918–1997), Israeli military commander, attorney, politician, and sixth president of the State of Israel. Member of the Tenth Knesset. Herzog was born in Belfast in Northern Ireland, to Rabbi Isaac *Herzog, who was the chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Ireland in the years 1921–36, after he moved his family to Dublin in 1919. Rabbi Herzog immigrated to Palestine with his family in 1936 and served as Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine and then Israel in 1936–59. Chaim Herzog studied at the Hebron and Merkaz ha-Rav yeshivot and studied at the Government of Palestine Law School. He then continued his studies in London and at Cambridge and received his law degree in Britain. Herzog served in the *Haganah during the Arab Revolt of 1936–38 and in the British army in World War ii. He crossed to Normandy and was stationed in northwest Germany, participating in the liberation of some of the concentration camps. Toward the end of the war he served as head of British Intelligence in northern Germany. After the war Herzog graduated from the Royal Military College and returned to Palestine. In 1948 he ran the Defense Section in the Jewish Agency, and after the establishment of the State he fought in the War of Independence, serving as operations officer in the battle of Latrun in 1948–50. In 1959–62 he served as head of the Intelligence Department (later Section) of the idf. In 1950–54 Herzog served as military attaché at the Israel Embassy in Washington, later serving as commander of the Jerusalem District and as commander of the Southern Command in 1957–59, after receiving the rank of major general. He retired from active service in 1962.

In 1962–72 Herzog managed an industrial development group, and in 1972–83 had a law firm in Tel Aviv that specialized in the representation of large industrial firms. In 1965 he joined the *Rafi Party and was secretary of its Tel Aviv branch. In the course of the Six-Day War he became Israel's best-known military commentator, and after the war he was appointed as the first military governor of Jerusalem and the West Bank. During the Yom Kippur War he once again became a military commentator. From 1975 to 1978 he served as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, where in November 1975 he led the fight against General Assembly Resolution 3379 that equated Zionism with racism. At the conclusion of his speech in the General Assembly he tore up the document containing the resolution. He was president of the World ort Union and was awarded an honorary British knighthood in 1970. From 1981 to 1983, he was a Labor member of the Knesset.

In 1983 Herzog was elected president of Israel, serving for ten years. In that period he paid official visits to some 30 countries and addressed 15 parliaments, including both houses of the U.S. Congress, both houses of the Canadian Parliament, the Argentine Congress, and the Polish Sejm as well as the Bulgarian Parliament, being the first foreigner in history to do so.

He also wrote prolifically in the press in Israel and abroad. Among his books are Israel's Finest Hour (1967), Days of Awe (1967), The War of Atonement (1975), and The Arab-Israeli Wars (1982).

Herzog's wife, aura, established the Council for a Beautiful Israel. His son yitzhak was elected to the Sixteenth and Seventeenth (2006) Knesset on the Labor Party List, and in January 2005 became minister of construction and housing.

[Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]