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Sacher, Harry


SACHER, HARRY (1881–1971), British Zionist and lawyer. Born in London, the son of a tailor, Sacher was educated at London and Oxford Universities (winning a scholarship) and in Europe. He was called to the bar but did not practice. During 1905–09 and 1915–19 he was a member of the editorial board of the Manchester Guardian and achieved prominence in the field of political analysis. He belonged to the Manchester Zionist Circle headed by Chaim *Weizmann and was instrumental in winning the Manchester Guardian to the Zionist cause during the political efforts preceding the *Bal-four Declaration. Sacher was married to the sister of Simon *Marks (later Lord Marks of Broughton), one of the founders of Marks & Spencer and an ardent Zionist and patron of Zionist causes. In 1920 Sacher settled in Palestine, where he practiced law.

At the 15th Zionist Congress (Basle, 1927) Sacher was elected to the Zionist Executive and was reelected to it in 1929 at the 16th Congress (Zurich), serving until 1931. His term began during the days of an economic crisis in the yishuv, following the height of the Fourth Aliyah. He channeled the economic policy of the Zionist Organization with a firm hand in an effort to balance its budget, encountering strong opposition on the part of the labor movement. The "Sacher regime" became synonymous with economic efficiency, in contrast to various other – daring – programs, which lacked the means of implementation. The second part of Sacher's term coincided with the Arab riots of 1929, when he defended Zionism against its detractors among Arabs and the British authorities. In his testimony before the Shaw Commission, which set out from London to investigate the causes of the riots, he defined the Zionist aims for Jewish-Arab relations: "We do not wish to rule over others, but we do not wish others to rule over us."

Sacher returned to England in 1930 and became a director of Marks and Spencer, serving until 1962. Throughout the years he remained active in the Zionist movement and, after 1948, in pro-Israel affairs. He edited Anglo-Jewish Zionist journals, such as The Jewish Review. His books include Israel, The Establishment of a State (1952) and Zionist Portraits and Other Essays (1959); he edited the anthology, Zionism and the Jewish Future (1916). He also donated the Sacher Building to New College, Oxford, and was one of the greatest benefactors of the college in its history.

His wife, miriam (neé Marks, a sister of Baron *Marks, 1892–1975), was one of the leaders of *wizo. His son, michael (1917–1986), was active in fund-raising for Israel in Britain and a governor of the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 1971 he was elected to the Jewish Agency Executive.


Ch. Weizmann, Trial and Error (1949), index; R. Weltsch, in: Haaretz (Sept. 14, 1961). add. bibliography: odnb online.

[Getzel Kressel]

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