Dov Shilansky, Former Knesset Speaker, Dies at 86

The Speaker of the 12th Knesset, Dov Shilansky, died yesterday in Tel Aviv. He was 86.

Dov Shilansky
Archive / Moti Kimche

Shilansky served as a Likud MK, and also as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office during the second cabinet of Menachem Begin, and Yitzak Shamir's first.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a special statement yesterday upon receiving news of Shilansky's death.

"The nation of Israel lost one of the most dedicated, excellent and pure of its leaders," he said. "Shilansky was among the founders of the national movement who survived the Holocaust and dedicated his life to safeguarding the establishment of the nation of Israel in its homeland."

"In all his roles," Netanyahu continued, "Shilansky expressed the purity in his soul and his absolute commitment to the Jewish nation, to the commemoration of the Holocaust, to Zionism, to the Land of Israel and to the values of humanism."

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also made statement to mark his predecessor's death, noting "Shilansky was a man determined in his views, but pleasant on a social level."

"[He] fought for his people and his country and contributed greatly to Israeli democracy and the culture of debate here," Rivlin continued. "He always had a smile on his face, despite the hardships he endured in his life, the horrors of the Holocaust and losing his son in war."

Rivlin added that "Shilansky will be remembered as a rock, a symbol of belief in the righteousness of the cause."

Dov Shilansky was born on March 21, 1924 in Lithuania. During the Holocaust, he was part of the underground in the Siauliai Ghetto and commander of the Irgun Tzvai Leumi (National Military Organization, also known as Etzel ) in Germany and Rome.

He immigrated to Israel on the Altalena ship in 1948 and fought in the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces during the War of Independence. In 1952, Shilansky was charged with planning to carry out a terrorist attack against the Israeli Foreign Ministry to protest the Holocaust reparations agreement made between Israel and Germany at the time. He was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment.

Shilansky was a lawyer and served as an MK for the Likud party consecutively in Knessets 9 through 13.