Aryeh Eliav

Aryeh "Lova" Eliav (Hebrew: אריה "לובה" אליאב‎, 21 November 1921 – 30 May 2010), was an Israeli politician. He served as a member of the Knesset for several factions in three spells between 1965 and 1992.[1]

Lev Lipschitz (later Aryeh Eliav) was born in Moscow. His family immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1924.[2] He studied history and sociology, gaining a BA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and worked as a teacher and sociologist. He later served as a visiting professor in several American academic institutes, including two years at Harvard University (1979–1980) and his two terms at Trinity College in the 1990s.

As a teenager, he joined the Haganah in 1936, before joining the British Army in 1940, serving in an artillery unit.[2] Upon his return home in 1945 he helped the Aliyah Bet movement and served as a colonel in the IDF. He later worked as an aide to Levi Eshkol on the topics of immigration, absorption and settlement.[2] Between 1955 and 1957 he oversaw the foundation of several settlements in Lakhish Regional Council area. During the Suez Crisis he supervised Operation Tushia, which transported the Jews of Port Said to Israel.[3]

In 1958 he returned to Moscow, where he worked as the first secretary in the Israeli embassy, a position he held until 1960.[1]

Eliav married Tania Zvi, a Holocaust survivor from Kaunas, Lithuania, who was part of a group of refugees Eliav smuggled into Palestine as the commander of an illegal immigration ship in 1947. They had three children, Zvi, Ofra and Eyal.[4]

Eliav was first elected to the Knesset in the 1965 elections on the Alignment list, and was appointed Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry. During the Knesset term he became Deputy Minister of Immigrant Absorption.[1]

He retained his seat in the 1969 elections, but was not given a ministerial portfolio. However, he did become general secretary of the Labour Party until 1971. After again retaining his seat in the 1973 elections, he left the party,[5] first sitting as an independent MK, before joining with the Ratz faction to form Ya'ad – Civil Rights Movement. However, the new party split up soon after its foundation, with Eliav founding a new party, the Social-Democratic Faction together with Marcia Freedman. The new party later changed its name to Independent Socialist Faction.

In the run up to the 1977 elections, he joined the Left Camp of Israel. The new party won only two seats, but a rotation agreement saw the seats shared by five people; Eliav served the first term, before resigning from the Knesset in January 1979 to make way for Uri Avnery. In 1984 he established a personal faction that ran in the elections that year, but failed to cross the electoral threshold by around 5,000 votes. In 1987 he returned to the Labor Party.

In 1987 he initiated and led a Jewish Agency project to found Nitzana, a new educational community, in the Negev desert.[6] He served as the Head of Community until 2008. Eliav returned to the Knesset after the 1988 elections. He served one last Knesset term and in 1992 decided not to run for a new term.

Eliav helped to found the city of Arad in the Negev and promoted the development of Lakhish and Kiryat Gat.[8] In the 1980s, he was the driving spirit behind the establishment of Nitzana in the western Negev, turning the sand dunes into a youth village.[9]