Chaim Herzog (Hebrew: חיים הרצוג; 17
September 1918 – 17 April 1997) was an Israeli politician,
general, lawyer and author who served as the sixth President of Israel
between 1983 and 1993. Born in
Belfast and raised predominantly in
Dublin, the son of Ireland's
Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, he
Mandatory Palestine in 1935 and served in the Haganah
Jewish paramilitary group during the 1936–39 Arab revolt. In the
British Army during World War II, latterly as an officer, he received
the nickname "Vivian" because the British could not pronounce "Chaim".
He returned to Palestine after the war and, following the end of the
British Mandate and Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948,
operated in the battles for Latrun during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
He retired from the
Israel Defence Forces in 1962 with the rank of
After leaving the military, Herzog practised law. In 1972 he was a
co-founder of Herzog, Fox & Ne'eman, which would become one of
Israel's largest law firms. Between 1975 and 1978 he served as
Israel's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in which
capacity he repudiated UN General Assembly Resolution 3379—the
"Zionism is Racism" resolution—and symbolically tore it up before
the assembly. Herzog entered politics in the 1981 elections, winning a
Knesset seat as a member of the Alignment. Two years later, in March
1983, he was elected to the largely ceremonial role of President. He
served for two five-year terms before retiring in 1993. He died four
years later and was buried on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem. His son Isaac
Herzog has led the Israeli Labour Party and the parliamentary
Opposition in the
Knesset since 2013.
1 Early life
2.1 Military, legal and political career
3 Commemorative plaque
4 Personal life
5 Works and publications
7 External links
Plaque on the
Belfast house in which Herzog was born, 2011
Herzog was born on 17 September 1918 in Cliftonpark Avenue in Belfast,
Ireland, the son of
Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, who was Chief Rabbi
of Ireland from 1919 to 1937 (and, later, of
Mandatory Palestine and
the State of Israel), and his wife Sara (née Hillman). His
father was born in Łomża, Poland, and his mother in Latvia; his
maternal grandfather was the Orthodox Jewish Talmudic scholar Shmuel
Yitzchak Hillman. The family home from 1919 was at 33 Bloomfield
Avenue, Portobello, Dublin.
Herzog's father, a fluent speaker of the Irish language, was known as
"the Sinn Féin Rabbi" for his support of the
First Dáil and the
Irish Republican cause during the Irish War of Independence. Herzog
studied at Wesley College,
Dublin and was involved with the Federation
of Zionist Youth and Habonim Dror, the Labour-Zionist movement, during
his teenage years.
Chaim Herzog in the IDF, 1954
The family emigrated to
Mandatory Palestine in 1935; Herzog
subsequently served in the Jewish paramilitary group
the 1936–39 Arab revolt. He went on to earn a degree in law at
University College London, and then qualified as a barrister at
Herzog joined the
British Army during World War II, operating
primarily in Germany as a tank commander in the Armoured Corps.
There, he was given his lifelong nickname of "Vivian" because the
British could not pronounce the name, "Chaim". A Jewish soldier had
volunteered that "Vivian" was the English equivalent of "Chaim". He
was commissioned into the Intelligence Corps in 1943. Herzog
participated in the liberation of several
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps as
well as identifying a captured German soldier as Heinrich Himmler. He
British Army in 1947 with the rank of Major.
Military, legal and political career
Immediately following the war, he returned to Palestine. After the
establishment of the State of Israel, he fought in the 1948
Arab–Israeli War, serving as an officer in the battles for Latrun.
His intelligence experience during
World War II
World War II was seen as a valuable
asset, and he subsequently became head of the IDF Military
Intelligence Branch, a position in which he served from 1948 to 1950
and again from 1959 to 1962. From 1950 to 1954, he served as defence
attaché at the Israeli Embassy in the United States. He retired from
the IDF in 1962 with the rank of Major-General.
After leaving the army, Herzog opened a private law practice. He
returned to public life in 1967, when the
Six-Day War broke out, as a
military commentator for Kol
Israel radio news. Following the capture
of the West Bank, he was appointed Military Governor of East
Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria.
In 1972, he went into partnership with Michael Fox and Yaakov Neeman,
and established the law firm of Herzog, Fox & Neeman, one of the
largest law firms in Israel.
Chaim Herzog visiting Beit Yitzhak in 1985.
In 1975, Herzog was appointed Israel's Ambassador to the United
Nations, in which capacity he served until 1978. During his term the
UN adopted the "Zionism is Racism" resolution (General Assembly
Resolution 3379), which Herzog condemned and symbolically tore up (as
his father had done to one of the British white papers regarding the
British Mandate in Palestine), saying: "For us, the Jewish people,
this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of
any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more
than a piece of paper and we shall treat it as such." In recent years
British historians headed by
Simon Sebag-Montefiore have included this
speech in a book on speeches that changed the world, which includes
others by Martin Luther King, Jr, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill
and John F. Kennedy.
In the 1981 elections, Herzog entered politics for the first time,
winning a seat in the
Knesset as a member of the Alignment, the
predecessor to the Labour Party.
On 22 March 1983, Herzog was elected by the
Knesset to serve as the
sixth President of Israel, by a vote of 61 to 57, against Menachem
Elon, the candidate of the right and the government coalition. He
assumed office on 5 May 1983 and served two five-year terms (then the
maximum permitted by Israeli basic law), retiring from political life
in 1993. As president of Israel, Herzog made a number of visits
abroad, being the first Israeli president to make an official visit to
Germany, as well as visiting several far-east countries, Australia,
and New Zealand. He was also noted for pardoning the
Shin Bet agent
involved in the Kav 300 affair.
In 1985 during his state visit to Ireland, Herzog visited Wesley
College Dublin, opened the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin, and unveiled
a modern polished steel Israeli sculpture, in honour of his childhood
friend, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, former Chief Justice and later, the
fifth President of Ireland, in
Sneem Culture Park, County Kerry.
Herzog was a hardened opponent of
Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq during
his presidency of Israel, he referred to Iraq as a nest "of world
terror". He said the world largely dismissed Israel's warnings that
Baghdad was becoming a capital of world terrorism, adding that some
Western countries helped Hussein develop into a military power.
Herzog controversially reduced the sentences of three imprisoned Jews,
Menachem Livni, Uzi Sharbaf and Shaul Nir, members of the Jewish
Underground, who were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1985 for the
1984 murder of four Palestinians in the
West Bank town of Hebron.
Herzog had reduced the sentences, first to 24 years, then to 15 years,
and in 1989, he reduced the sentence to 10 years, which enabled the
men to be released two years later on good behavior.
In 1998, the Ulster History Circle unveiled a commemorative blue
plaque to Herzog at his birthplace on Cliftonpark Avenue, Belfast. The
plaque was removed by the Circle from the building in August 2014, at
the request of the Cliftonville Community Regeneration Forum, who are
based there. The plaque had become the subject of unwelcome attention,
and in the interests of health and safety it was taken away for safe
keeping, until such time as it can be reinstated, with the consent of
the owners and occupiers of the premises.
Herzog's grave on Mt. Herzl
Herzog died on 17 April 1997. He is buried on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem.
Herzog was the brother-in-law of Abba Eban; the men's wives were
sisters. He had three children, including Isaac Herzog, a politician
who is the chairman of the Israeli Labour Party.
Works and publications
Chaim Herzog memorial stone in Auschwitz
Herzog, Chaim (1978). Who Stands Accused?:
Israel Answers Its Critics.
Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-50132-1. OCLC 3865344.
Herzog, Chaim; Gazit, Shlomo (12 December 1983). The Arab-Israeli
Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East from the 1948 War of
Independence to the Present. Vintage. ISBN 978-1-4000-7963-6.
Herzog, Chaim (September 1989). Heroes of Israel: Profiles of Jewish
Courage. Little Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-35901-6.
Herzog, Chaim (12 November 1996). Living History: A Memoir. Pantheon.
ISBN 978-0-297-81941-7. OCLC 36792752.
Herzog, Chaim; Gichon, Mordechai (March 1997). Battles of the Bible: A
Military History of Ancient Israel. Pantheon.
ISBN 978-0-7607-7626-1. OCLC 71323946.
Herzog, Chaim (March 1998). The War of Atonement: The Inside Story of
the Yom Kippur War. Greenhill Books. ISBN 978-1-935149-13-2.
^ a b Pace, Eric (18 April 1997). "Chaim Herzog, Former Israeli
President, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 June
^ a b "Herzog, Chaim (1918–1997)".
Israel and Zionism. The
Department for Jewish Zionist Education. Archived from the original on
26 September 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2007.
^ "Sara Herzog Dead at 82". JTA. 16 January 1979. Retrieved 20 March
^ Benson, Asher (2007). Jewish Dublin. Dublin: A&A Farmer Ltd.
p. 22. ISBN 978-1-906353-00-1.
^ Herzog, Living History, p. 47.
^ "Supplement 36274". The London Gazette. 3 December 1943.
p. 5331. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
^ Noam Sharvit (26 June 2006). "BDI: Herzog, Fox & Neeman remains
top Israeli law firm". Globes. Archived from the original on 18
October 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
^ "Herzog speech on Zionism makes history". Ynetnews. 26 June 2007.
Retrieved 29 March 2015.
^ Colonel Tim Collins; York Membery (9 February 2011). "Ten of the
greatest: Inspirational speeches". Daily Mail. Retrieved 9 September
^ Steve Padilla; Ronald L. Soble (19 November 1990). "Herzog Calls
Iraq a Nest of Terrorism". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 September
^ "3 Israeli Terrorists Are Released In 4th Reduction of Their Terms".
The New York Times. Associated Press. 27 December 1990. Retrieved 29
^ Alan Cowell (7 June 1989). "Documents given to Arabs in Gaza". The
New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
Chaim Herzog son saddened that
Belfast plaque removed". BBC News.
13 August 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
Chaim Herzog on the
"Chaim Herzog". Jewish Virtual Library.
Chaim Herzog (1918–1997)". Jewish Agency for Israel.
"Israel, Jewish world mourn death of Chaim Herzog, 78". J Weekly. JTA.
April 25, 1997.
Thomas L. Friedman (8 November 1987). "
President of Israel
President of Israel to Make
First Visit to U.S." The New York Times.
"Missiles on Tel Aviv". Israel's Documented Story: The
English-language blog of the
Israel State Archives. 18 November
2012. Missing or empty url= (help) Correspondence between
Chaim Herzog and the German President Richard von
Weizsaecker during the First Gulf War
The End of
World War II
World War II in Europe: Wartime Letters from Chaim Herzog
to Family and Friends, published in Israel's Documented Story: The
English-language blog of
Israel State Archives:
Chaim Herzog on IMDb
Appearances on C-SPAN
Permanent Representative of
Israel to the
Heads of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate (Aman)
Heads of Southern Command
Bar Kokhva (1983–86)
Heads of the State of Israel
Chairmen of the
Provisional State Council
David Ben-Gurion (1948)
Chaim Weizmann (1948–49)
Chaim Weizmann (1949–52)
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (1952–63)
Zalman Shazar (1963–73)
Ephraim Katzir (1973–78)
Yitzhak Navon (1978–83)
Chaim Herzog (1983–93)
Ezer Weizman (1993–2000)
Moshe Katsav (2000–07)
Shimon Peres (2007–14)
Reuven Rivlin (2014–present)
Nation's Great Leaders Plot,
Grave of Chaim Herzog
ISNI: 0000 0001 0859 7196
BNF: cb12210717n (data)