Former MK Yosef Tamir, one of Israel's first environmental activists, died Tuesday at the age of 94. Tamir was a founder of the Liberal Party and of Likud, but is remembered mainly for supporting ecological issues as early as the 1960s, long before the cause was popular.
Tamir was born in Ukraine in 1915 and came to live in Israel in 1924. As a journalist at Haaretz in the 1940s, he became active with the General Zionists and the Liberal Party. In 1965 he helped establish Gahal, uniting the Herut and the Liberal parties, and was elected to the Knesset.
Later, he helped found Likud, although he opposed settlement in the territories. In 1979 he joined the Shinui party.
Tamir established the Knesset sub-committee on the environment and helped found the Council for a Beautiful Israel.
"There is no doubt he was a pioneer in environmental protection," Tamir's son, Naftali Tamir, said. Tamir also said his father began protesting the Reading coal power station in Tel Aviv, as well as construction along the coast, decades ago. "He thought about things that seem natural to us today but in those days looked totally crazy. He envisioned the water crisis we are undergoing today," Naftali Tamir said.
Tamir said political figures at the time could not understand his father's ideas. He added that his father also proposed building a huge underground parking garage beneath today's Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, which would double as a nuclear shelter.
"People on the city council thought he was being illogical," Naftali Tamir said.
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