May 13, 2008

Shmuel Katz, Eretz Yisrael Loyalist, Dead at 83


Shmuel Katz, former Minister of Information under Menachem Begin, last remaining member of Israel’s first Knesset, Irgun commander, and one of the great leaders of the Zionist Revisionist movement, died on May 9 at the age of 93.

Katz dedicated his entire life in defense of the Jewish People and the State of Israel.

He was born in South Africa in 1914, joined the Betar youth movement in 1930 and came to the Land of Israel in 1936, where he promptly joined the Irgun.

Katz was sent to London in 1939 by Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky to represents the Zionist Revisionist movement.

In 1946 he returned to Palestine where he joined the Irgun high command, participating in the revolt against British rule and the War for Israeli Independence.

He was elected to the first Knesset and was active in Menachem Begin’s Herut Party.

In 1977, when Begin was elected Prime Minister, he asked Katz to serve as his Minister of Information.

In 1978, however, Katz resigned in opposition to Begin’s negotiations with Egypt under U.S. auspices.

Katz was renown for his articulate and forceful writing on behalf of Israel and Zionism.

His work Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine (1973) remains to this day one of the most straight forwarded and effective defense of the State of Israel, while his biography of Jabotinsky, Lone Wolf (1993) is the most outstanding biography of the great Zionist leader.

His most recent book, The Aaronsohn Saga (2007) about the World War I Nili spy ring, was published in English only last year.

His other works include Days of Fire (1966), Admat Meriva (1973), and Lo Oz Velo Hadar (1981).

Katz remained firm in his defense of the integrity of Eretz Israel throughout his life, insisting that peace for peace was the correct formulas for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and defending the right of Jews to live anywhere in the Land of Israel.

He died soon after Yom Ha'atzmaut, at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital and was buried at the Hayarkon Cemetery in Petah Tikva.

The mourners at his funeral included former Prime minister and current opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, former defense minister Moshe Arens, former Knesset member Uzi Landau, former Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, Jabotinsky Institute director Yossi Achimeir and Knesset member and Knesset deputy speaker Gideon Sa`ar.

For more on Shmuel Katz see:
Shmuel Katz: Zionism's Intellectual Warrior By Herbert Zweibon (May 21, 2008, Jewish Press)
The Loss of Shmuel Katz (May 11, 2008, Herut)
Shmuel Katz dies at 83 By Elliot Jager (May 10, 2008, Jerusalem Post)
Shmuel Katz - an Appreciation By Yisrael Medad (May 13, 2008, My Right Word)