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Land of Israel Supporter & Ex-Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky, 86

Former Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky, a staunch Land of Israel supporter, passed away early this morning at the age of 86.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/9/2010, 2:20 PM / Last Update: 12/9/2010, 2:05 PM

Israel news

He will be buried in the Kiryat Sha’ul cemetery in Tel Aviv on Friday at 10:45.

Born in Lithuanian in 1924, Shilansky fought as a lad in the underground against the Nazis, and was later to deported to the Dachau concentration camp. He was a commander in the Etzel in both Germany and Italy, and in 1948 he immigrated to Israel aboard the ill-fated Altalena.

MK Ben-Ari: "Dov Shilansky's death marks the end of a generation of politicians with integrity who do not zig-zag ideologically according to narrow interests and passing popular whims." 

Greatly affected by the trauma of Haganah Jews firing on the Altalena in an effort to keep arms from reaching the Irgun, Shilansky enlisted in the fledgling Israel Defense Forces, and fought in Israel’s ensuing wars. In the early 1950’s, he took part in the efforts against receiving reparations from Germany, and was ultimately sentenced to 21 months in prison for his troubles.

He earned an LL.B from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, worked as an attorney, and became a member of the Ethics Committee of the Israel Bar Association and the International Organization of Jewish Law Professionals. In 1977, when the Likud, under Menachem Begin, won its first election, he was elected to the Knesset as a member of that party. He continued to serve in the Knesset until 1996, and was voted the Knesset Speaker in 1988. In 1993 he was a candidate for President, but lost to Ezer Weizman. He was later often listed in the ceremonial 120th slot in the Likud's election lists of candidates.

For several years, Shilansky had a weekly spot on Arutz-7's Hebrew language broadcasts.

He refused to shake the hands of German leaders, and strongly opposed the public performance of Richard Wagner's music in Israel. "I can't understand the fanaticism of those who insist on playing this music in Israel," he said. "Would that they would have the same fanaticism for the Land of Israel!"

Education Minister Gideon Saar said, “Dov Shilansky as a precious person, a proud Jew and Zionist, complete in his love and dedication to the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel. He was committed to passing on the memory of the Holocaust, and was sensitive to the poor and needy.”

Shilansky was in fact known for inviting homeless people to his Friday night Sabbath dinners. When his son fell in battle in Lebanon, he promptly began a program of twinning schools in central Israel with those on the northern border. Known for his geniality and sense of humor, he explained his opposition to a proposed barbecue grill in the Knesset as follows: “I can just see MKs waiting on line for their hot dog to be grilled, and then the bell sounds for a vote and they come running in to the plenum with their hot dogs…”

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “The People of Israel have lost one of its most dedicated and exemplary leaders. Shilansky was among those national movement founders who survived the Holocaust. He dedicated his life to ensuring the revival of the Jewish People on its Land. In all of his posts, but especially that of Knesset Speaker, he was a symbol of integrity and the absolute commitment to the Jewish People, the memory of the Holocaust, Zionism, the Land of Israel and moral human values. The entire nation bows its head in memory and deep appreciation of his work and his personality. The story of his life is the story of our people."

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin said, "Shilansky was strong-willed in his opinions, but pleasant in his dealings with people. He had a constant smile, despite the tribulations of his life, including the horrors of the Holocaust and the loss of his son in the line of duty. He will be remembered as a solid rock and a symbol of belief in the justness of our cause."

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) said, "Dov Shilansky's death marks the end of a generation of politicians with integrity who do not zig-zag ideologically according to narrow interests and passing popular whims. He was a believer in the Greater Land of Israel who until his dying day did not forgive the Germans and their supporters. May his memory be blessed."