Former foreign minister David Levy
Former foreign minister David LevyFlash 90

"I realized that turning over tables in an employment office is not the way. The path leading to prison, like the path leading to living on welfare and degeneration, is a dead-end. I must find the path that will lead me to positions of influence where things can be done and changed from their roots." These prescient words were said by David Levy in an interview for a biography written about him by Arieh Avneri almost 40 years ago. Powerful words that cannot be ignored. Levy also added in the same interview, "I didn't aspire to a political career yet. I was a 19-year-old kid. But intuitively I understood that the right way was to learn the rules of the social game, and my heart was rewarded with a decision - no more."

As part of a round of reading biographies of public figures that I adopted for myself, I just finished reading Levy's biography a week ago. The book was fascinating. I eagerly devoured the life story of the talented man of principles, the mythical foreign minister who was the first representative of what is known as "the second Israel" - the Mizrahi Jews who faced discrimination and unemployment upon their arrival in the Promised Land - and who succeeded in climbing the ladder of the fight for social justice until he reached the Knesset.

And then, on June 2nd, the State of Israel said goodbye to one of its greatest leaders, David Levy, a trailblazer who never forgot his roots, and, who passed away at the age of 86.

David Levy is a classic Cinderella story. A new, destitute immigrant who arrived at the age of 19 from Marbat in Morocco, sent with thousands of others to the small town of Beit Shean, a construction worker who rose to the position of Deputy Prime Minister. The first Mizrahi minister, one of the leaders of the Likud movement, who was a step away from becoming prime minister. A trailblazing leader and a symbol of the statesmanship that we need today.

As a small child in Nahariya, in the late 1990s, I remember one meeting in which I had the privilege of shaking hands and seeing with my own eyes David Levy, the man I admired and loved so much. One evening Levy came to visit the home of the mayor of Nahariya, Jackie Sabag. The rumor that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, David Levy, was in Nahariya spread through the town, and within a short time there was a commotion as residents rushed to the parking lot near the house.

My friends and I stood outside for three hours without losing heart, patiently awaiting the end of the meeting, provided we would get to see in person the leader we so admired. How great was our excitement when he shook our hands and gave us the warm hug of a true leader. Over the years, I had other opportunities to meet Levy, but I will never forget that first time in the parking lot of the mayor of Nahariya.

Upon learning of Levy's passing, the president of the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry, Sam Ben Shatrit, sent a letter of condolences to Rachel, Levy's widow and to family members. In the letter, Ben Shatrit describes how Levy, in his role as Minister of Housing, appealed the decision of the "Committee of Ministers" not to add the deaths of the 44 immigrants drowned as they attempted to reach Israel from Morocco when it was still illegal to make aliyah from that country, to the list of those who gave their lives for the State of Israel .

Indeed, thanks to his appeal, the government headed by the late Menachem Begin recognized the 44 Jews on the SS Egoz who drowned when it sank in the Straits of Gibraltar on the 23rd of Tevet 5571 (10.1.61) as having fallen for the homeland. An achievement inscribed in the name of Levy.

In recent years, I tried a number of times through family members, to meet with David Levy, to hear about his life and publish his remarks, but unfortunately I was unable to. I will stay with the biography and memories of a little boy in Nahariya who admired the minister and social justice fighter David Levy, a legend in his lifetime

Avi Nachmani is the spokesman for the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry