Prof. Zeev Sternhell dies at 85

Hebrew U president says Israel Prize winner, leftist intellectual was "among the most important researchers to come out of" the university.

AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Prof. Sternhell
Prof. Sternhell
Flash 90

Historian and political scientist Zeev Sternhell, a peace activist and one of the leading thinkers of the Israeli radical left, has died aged 85, Jerusalem's Hebrew University said Sunday.

Sternhell headed the university's political science department and was a professor emeritus there.

He was "among the most important researchers to come out of the Hebrew University," according to the institution's president Asher Cohen.

"His innovative political science research, which was translated into many languages, brought a deep change in the academic perception of ideological movements, specifically radical movements," Cohen said.

In addition to academic writing and books, he regularly published pieces in Israeli newspaper Haaretz that were critical of the settler movement.

In an article published in the Davar newspaper in 1988, Sternhell wrote, “Only one who is ready to storm Ofra with tanks can stop the fascist current threatening to drown Israeli democracy.”

On another occasion, he wrote, “The Occupation is at the heart of the war with the Palestinians, and as long as the Jewish public does not recognize the equal rights of the other People sitting in the land, it will continue to sink deeper into a colonialist reality and overt apartheid."

Born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1935, he survived the Second World War disguised as a Catholic. His mother and sister were murdered by the Nazis.

He relocated to France after the war, moving to Israel upon its creation in 1948. He took part as an Israeli soldier in the country's wars over four decades.

In 2008 he was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for political science. Later that year, he was wounded by a bomb planted outside his house.

According to Haaretz, Sternhell died as a result of complications following surgery.

He is survived by a wife, two daughters and grandchildren.