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Signed, Sealed, Delivered? Moshe Kol

For nearly two decades Kol headed the Jewish Agency’s Youth Immigration Division that brought more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors from 85 different countries to Israel

Moshe Kolodny, who’d later on change his surname to Kol, was born in 1911 in the heart of the Pale of Settlement.

Having given him both a rigorous religious-and a broad secular education, young Moshe’s parents wanted him to study medicine. But he much preferred the Zionist movement’s conference rooms to the university’s anatomy labs. They ultimately compromised on Moshe making aliyah and enrolling in the Hebrew University, which he did – only to drop out once his Zionist activism took over his life.

He was a labor organizer, an educator, a publicist and – starting in 1947 – a member of the executive of the Jewish Agency. At 37, he was the second-youngest signatory of the Declaration of Independence. He later went on to serve as Minister of Development and Minister of Tourism, a post which he held for more than eleven consecutive years.

He was – at heart – a liberal centrist and as such, advocated for a constitution, for freedom of religion, for military training for yeshiva boys, and for the normalization of ties with Israel’s various different Arab minority groups.

In 1977, the year he left the government, Kol was named an honorary citizen of the town of Daliyat al-Karmel in recognition of his lifelong support of the Druze community. He also championed the cause of the Melkite and Maronite residents of Iqrit and Bir’im, two Chrisitan villages near the Lebanese border, in which the locals willingly evacuated their homes in October 1948, with a promise that they would be allowed to return within two weeks. Seventy-five years later, those two weeks have yet to expire, a decision that Likud Minister Misha Arens once called a “march of folly, or, a guide for how to make friends into enemies!”

Devoting most of his post-political life to writing, Kol passed away in 1989, and was buried on the Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem.

The end song is Shir HaShayara (lyrics – Eli Mohar, music – Traditional Greek), performed by Arik Einstein. (Licensed by Israel Story through Acum)

About Israel Story: Israel Story is the award-winning podcast that tells extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis. Often called “the Israeli ‘This American Life,’” we bring you quirky, unpredictable, interesting and moving stories about a place we all think we know a lot about, but really don’t. Produced in partnership with The Times of Israel.

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