Author Archives: Ami Isseroff

Ami Isseroff

About Ami Isseroff

Ami Isseroff is a web journalist and director of MidEastWeb for Coexistence. He lives in Rehovot, Israel.

Shimon Peres

This Peres biography is copyrighted by and reprinted with the permission of the Zionism and Israel Information Center.

Shimon Peres was born August 21, 1923 in Vishneva, White Russia (then Poland) near Volozhin, to Yitzhak and Sara Persky. In 1931, his father, emigrated to Palestine. His family followed two years later. Peres was initially enrolled in the Balfour High School, followed by the Geula High School (“Gymnasium”) where he became a member of the Hanoar Haoved youth movement. At the end of ninth grade he quit school and moved to the Ben-Shemen agricultural school and youth village. Peres joined the Haganah underground in 1941. He trained at Kibbutz Geva and was then sent to join Kibbutz Alumot in the lower Galilee. He married Sonya Gelman in 1945 and they had two daughters and a son.

Early Political Career 

At Alumoth, Peres was recruited by Levi Eshkol to work as an organizer for the Hanoar Haoved youth movement in Tel-Aviv. He was subsequently elected Secretary General of Hanoar Haoved, the Histradrut labor federation’s youth movement, and was a delegate in 1946 to the 22nd World Zionist Congress. At the congress he met David Ben-Gurion and backed his program, which favored forming a Jewish state. In 1947, Ben-Gurion selected Peres and several others to search for officer talent for the Haganah [the precursor to the Israeli Defense Forces]. In May 1947, Ben-Gurion drafted Peres into the Haganah high command, where he was initially in charge of manpower and later became involved in arms procurement and production.

Peres served as chief of the naval department in 1948, was sent to the United States in 1950 on an arms-procurement mission (as well as to complete his education), and was Director General of the Defense Ministry from 1953-1959. Peres was instrumental in establishing the indigenous Israeli defense industries, including and especially the Avionics industries, and he is also known as the father of the Israeli hi-tech industry. In his tenure at the Ministry of Defense he built an alliance with France that secured a source of arms, and helped to enlist Britain and France in the Suez campaign of 1956. He also embarked on a program to develop nuclear power and nuclear weapons for Israel, convincing the French to help Israel build a secret nuclear reactor beginning in about 1957.

Ehud Olmert

This Olmert biography is copyrighted by and excerpted with permission of the Zionism and Israel Information Center.This biography was written in the beginning of 2006 prior to Olmert’s appointment as Prime Minister in 2006 and his stepping down as Kadima party leader in late 2008.

Ehud Olmert (or Ohlmert, Uhlmert) was born in Binyamina in 1945. His parents belonged to the right-wing Herut party and he was a member of the Betar youth movement. 

Olmert served in the IDF as a combat infantry unit (Golani) officer. He was also a military correspondent for the IDF journal Bamahane. He holds B.A. and LL.B. degrees in Psychology and Law from the Ehud Olmert, Former Prime Minister of IsraelHebrew University of Jerusalem.

Olmert became a member of the Knesset for the Gahal party in 1973 at the age of 28, emphasizing social justice. He served on the House, Constitution, Law & Justice Committee, State Control, Foreign Affairs and Defense, Finance, Education & Culture, and Internal Affairs and Environment Committees. In the Shamir government, from 1988-1990 he served as Minister Without Portfolio responsible for minority affairs, and from 1990 until 1992 as Minister of Health.

Olmert’s political career was marked by quiet innovation and independent opinions. In November 1993, Olmert was elected Mayor of Jerusalem, ousting the popular but aging Teddy Kolleck on a platform of a unified Jerusalem. As mayor, he did not succeed in halting the progressive impoverishment of Jerusalem, nor did he succeed in equalizing the level of services and development provided to Arabs in East Jerusalem with those provided to Jewish sections of the city. He broke with right-wing members of his Likud party by advocating Palestinian self-rule. In 1999, his insistence that he believed opposition party leader Ehud Barak would not divide Jerusalem was a material help in Barak’s election campaign.

In the 1970s Olmert was involved in a complex libel suit. Critics say he tried to get the Likud to pay for his defense, even though his lawyers were from his own firm. The Israel police also investigated his involvement with irregularities in campaign financing in the 2003 campaign.

Ariel Sharon: A Biography

This abridged biography is copyrighted by and reprinted with permission of MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA.

Ariel Sharon was born Ariel Scheinermann in Kfar Malal, mandatory Palestine, on February 27, 1928 and died on January 11, 2014. He joined the Haganah underground at the age of 14 in 1942 (1947 according to some sources). Ariel Sharon

A Young Soldier

During the 1948 War of Independence, Sharon commanded an infantry company in the Alexandroni Brigade and distinguished himself in fighting in Jerusalem and elsewhere. He was wounded in one of the battles of Latrun. Sharon was appointed Central Command and North Command intelligence officer in 1951-52. He then went to study in the Hebrew University, but his studies were interrupted in 1953 when he was recalled to found and lead the “101” special commando unit which carried out retaliatory operations. Sharon and 101 were responsible for an infamous bloody raid in Qibieh, in October 1953, in which 69 civilians were killed. The raid was a reprisal for a terror attack on Tirat Yehuda. Sharon and others have since claimed that they did not know civilians were being killed, but in an Israeli television documentary, Sharon said the raid was necessary and he would do it again.

Sharon was made commander of the paratroop brigade (“Hativat Tzanchanim”) in 1956 and helped to establish its tactics and reputation. In the Sinai Campaign he led a controversial operation against orders to conquer the Mitla Pass. In 1957 he was sent by the IDF to study at the Camberley Staff College in Great Britain.

In 1958 Sharon became an Infantry Brigade Commander and later was made commander of the IDF infantry training school. He then studied law at Tel Aviv University and received an LLD degree. Sharon became Chief of Staff of the Northern Command in 1964 and Head of the Army Training Department in 1966. He fought in the 1967 Six Day War as commander of an armored division. In 1969 he was appointed Head of the Southern Command Staff.

Sharon resigned from the army in June 1972. He was recalled to active military service in the 1973 Yom Kippur War to command an armored division. He became involved in a controversy over the crossing of the Suez Canal. According to some versions of the war, Sharon’s action allowed the IDF to surround the Egyptian Third Army and end the war in a superior tactical position. Others claim that his disobedience and recklessness cost many lives needlessly.

Who Was Yitzhak Rabin?

This Rabin biography is copyrighted by and reprinted with permission of MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA.

Early Life

Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem on March 1, 1922 to Rosa and Nehemia Rabin (Rubitzov). Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Tel Aviv. He attended Beit Hinukh Leyaldei Ovdim (Worker’s Children School) in Tel Aviv, and from age 15, Kadourie agricultural school. He initially failed the Kadourie entrance exam, but later won the High Commissioner’s prize for academic excellence.

Yitzhak Rabin Army Israel Northern Command WarAt Kadourie, Rabin became friends with Yigal Alon, later a leader of the Palmah, the elite strike force of the Haganah underground.  In 1941, Rabin joined the Palmah underground. In 1945, he was deputy commander of the operation that freed 200 illegal immigrants from the Atlit detention camp. In 1947, he was appointed Deputy Commander of the Palmah. He married Leah Shlossberg in 1948 and they had two children, Yuval and Dalia.

READ: How Mandatory Palestine Became Israel

Role in Israel’s War of Independence

As commander of the Harel brigade, Rabin played a crucial role in the defense of Jerusalem in 1948, particularly in operation Nahshon, which lifted the blockade to Jerusalem in the beginning of April 1948, and in fighting in the Katamonim. By a quirk of fate, Rabin was also the commander in charge in June of 1948, when David Ben Gurion gave the order to sink the Altalena, a ship carrying arms for the Irgun underground, which Ben-Gurion and others suspected was plotting a coup.

READ: Israel’s War of Independence

Military Career

Rabin studied at the Camberly Staff College in Britain until 1953. In 1954 he was appointed head of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Training Branch by Moshe Dayan, and was promoted to Brigadier General. He planned the Israeli officers training college. From 1956-1959 he was Chief of Operations of the Northern Command, and in 1961 he became deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF. On Jan 1, 1964, he became Chief of Staff of the IDF, and led the IDF to victory in the Six Day War in 1967.