BEN-AHARON (Nussenbaum), YITZḤAK

BEN-AHARON (Nussenbaum), YITZḤAK (1906– ) Israeli labor leader and politician. Member of the First to Fifth, Seventh and Eighth Knessets, on behalf of Mapam, Aḥdut ha-Avodah-Po'alei Zion, and the Alignment lists. Ben-Aharon was born in Zoinitza, then Austrian Bukovina. He studied political science and economics in Berlin and was also a leader in the Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir movement. Ben-Aharon immigrated to Palestine in 1928, and in 1933 was one of the founders of Kibbutz Givat Ḥayyim, where he remained a member. In 1932–38 he was secretary of the Tel Aviv Labor Council, and in 1939 secretary of mapai . In 1940 Ben-Aharon joined the British Army and was taken prisoner by the Germans in Greece in 1941, remaining in a German prison camp until the end of the war. After the war he took part in the struggle of the Yishuv against the British and was among the Jewish leaders arrested on "Black Saturday" on June 29, 1946. When Aḥdut ha-Avodah seceded from mapai , and established Aḥdut ha-Avodah–Po'alei Zion, he became one of its leaders, representing it in the histadrut . In 1948, Aḥdut ha-Avodah–Po'alei Zion united with Mapam and the two parties ran in a single list in the Knesset elections. Ben-Aharon was elected on behalf of Mapam to the First and Second Knessets, and after that on behalf of Aḥdut ha-Avodah–Po'alei Zion. In 1959–62 he served as minister of transportation, resigning due to differences of opinion within his own party on the need for unification with Mapai, and with other members of the government over social and economic issues. In 1965 he was one of the driving forces for the establishment of the first Alignment with Mapai, and in 1968 for the establishment of the Israel Labor Party. From 1969 to 1973 Ben-Aharon served as secretary general of the Histadrut. In this position he encouraged wage claims, particularly on behalf of the lower-paid workers, frequently in contravention of the economic policy of Minister of Finance Pinḥas Sapir , and spoke out strongly against the high earnings and luxurious living of the wealthy in Israel. He also advocated having the governing bodies of the Histadrut elected by the districts rather than on a national basis and called for an increase in the proportion of representatives elected by the workers directly instead of by the party and trade union functionaries. In this period he strongly criticized   the political positions of Prime Minister Golda meir , and within Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad clashed with Yitzḥak Tabenkin , who supported the Greater Israel idea. Ben-Aharon did not run for the Ninth Knesset but continued to act behind the scenes within Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me'uḥad and the Labor Party, while expressing dovish views with regard to the peace process with the Palestinians. Throughout his career Ben-Aharon was considered not only a political leader but an ideologue as well. His articles and speeches appeared in various collections. -ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Siḥot Im Ben-Aharon (1984); Y. Gvirtz, Yeled Lo Ratzu'i: Yiẓḥak Ben-Aharon: Biografyah (2003). (Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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