An ardent Zionist has passed away: Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died on Wednesday in Los Angeles from heart failure at the age of 79.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) issued a statement of mourning for Taylor, announcing that she had been converted to Judaism in 1959 by a former ZOA President, Reform Rabbi Max Nussbaum.
The ZOA statement listed a series of efforts Taylor made for Israel and the Jewish community, including her purchase of $100,000 in Israel Bonds in 1959, her participation in raising $840,000 for Israel in a 1967 London gala, and her cancellation of a visit to Moscow after the Soviet Union lashed out at Israel following the 1967 Six Day War.
In addition, she was one of 60 prominent women to sign a statement in 1975 to then-UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, condemning the General Assembly’s infamous Zionism-is-Racism resolution. Taylor offered herself as a hostage when 104 Jews aboard an Air France airbus were held hostage by PLO terrorists at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport, from which they were rescued in a spectacular Israeli commando mission on July 4, 1976, America’s 200th birthday.
Taylor frequently visited Israel and met with its leadership, including Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1983. In 1987, she signed a petition seeking the release from Soviet prison of leading refusenik Ida Nudel.
Elizabeth Taylor’s pro-Israel activism led to the banning of her films in several Arab countries. After she bought $100,000 in Israel Bonds in 1959, the United Arab Republic (now Egypt) banned all her movies. Gen. Essam Elmasri, head of the Cairo regional bureau of the Israel Boycott Office, said at the time that she would not be allowed into Egypt because she had adopted the Jewish faith and “supports Israeli causes.”