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Birthday of Levi Eshkol, 1895

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: October 25, 1895

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#onthisday, 1895, the third Israeli Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, was born in Oratovo, Ukraine.

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Eshkol was a key soldier for Israel before and after it acquired statehood, supporting the Zionist movement and ultimately helping to establish the Israeli Defense Forces with David ben Gurion.

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As a child, Eshkol attended a Hebrew high school in Ukraine and joined Tzeirei Tzion, a youth Zionist group.

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He became a political activist in the Ottoman-occupied Palestine and entered the fight for justice as a volunteer soldier in the Jewish Legion of the British Army during WWI.

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This was just the beginning of his military career. In 1940, Eshkol became a member of the Haganah, before helping to recruit members for the IDF in 1947.

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The following year, when Israel became a State, he was chosen as the first Director General of the Ministry of Defense.

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Simultaneously, he became head of the World Zionist Organization, so he was fighting for peace both on and off the battlefield.

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Eshkol had plenty of experiences in Israel’s political realm, working as Minister of Agriculture and Development until assuming the position of Minister of Finance.

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His largest achievement was his appointment as Prime Minister in 1963 where, 4 years later, he guided Israel through the Six Day War and began importing military supplies from the United States, strengthening the IDF.

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There was certain criticism directed at Eshkol prior to the outbreak of war in 1967 during a radio address to the nation where he lacked the confidence in his voice to calm a country at the brink of total war.

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Levi Eshkol died in 1969, becoming the first Prime Minister to pass away while still in office. Golda Meir succeeded him at this point.

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His life and legacy were commemorated through a national park in Northern Israel and a Jerusalem neighborhood that were named after him.

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✍: @madelynilana

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Text Source:

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/levi-eshkol

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