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Israel Rokach
Israel Rokach 1950.jpg
Date of birth 31 December 1886
Place of birth Jaffa, Ottoman Empire
Date of death 13 September 1959 (aged 72)
Place of death Israel
Knessets 1st, 2nd, 3rd
Party General Zionists
Ministerial posts
(current in bold)
Minister of Internal affairs

Israel Rokach, OBE (Hebrew: ישראל רוקח‎) (December 31, 1886 – September 13, 1959) was an Israeli politician, Knesset member, and mayor of Tel Aviv from November 15, 1936 to April 13, 1953.



Israel Rokach was born in 1886 in Neve Tzedek, then part of Jaffa. His father, Shimon, a journalist, was one of the founders of the neighborhood.[1] His grandfather, Israel Beck, revived the Hebrew printing industry in Palestine.[1] Rokah attended a Cheder and then an Alliance Israélite Universelle school. He traveled to Switzerland to continue his education, studying at a high school in Lausanne and then electrical engineering at the Zürich polytechnic.

In 1920 Rokach moved to the United Kingdom, where he worked as an electrical engineer. In 1922 he returned to Jaffa, where he opened a store for electrical supplies. In 1933, Rokach married Esther Epstein. He called their daughter Iri (Hebrew: עירי‎), meaning "my city"; she was also known as Livia Rokach, the authoress of anti-Zionist literature.

Rokach died in 1959 and was buried in Trumpeldor Cemetery in Tel Aviv.

Political career

Graves of Israel and Esther Rokach

Rokach's first public position was council member in Jaffa, representing the Jewish neighborhoods of Neve Tzedek, Neve Shalom and Ohel Moshe. In 1922, he was elected to the city council of Tel Aviv, representing the United Centrist List party. In 1929 he was appointed deputy mayor to Meir Dizengoff.

In the 1936 municipal elections, Rokach represented the right-wing parties, although he lost to Moshe Chelouche of the workers' parties. Nevertheless, the British High Commissioner forced Rokach's appointment to the mayoral post. Despite public uproar about British intervention in the Jewish democratic process, Rokach went on to serve as mayor of Tel Aviv until 1953. For his great success, he was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

During his tenure, Tel Aviv expanded rapidly and its population tripled. Jaffa, Rokach's birthplace, was merged into the city in 1949, giving it a significant population boost, despite Rokach's initial opposition to the merger.

The 1936-39 Arab revolt, World War II and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War all occurred during his tenure, including Operation Hametz - the capture of Jaffa from Arab hands. During this period, Tel Aviv was bombed from the air multiple times, the first being by the Italian Air Force in 1940. After this, underground shelters and loudspeaker systems were built, which also served the population in 1949, when Egyptian Spitfires made strafing runs on the city. On August 5, 1947, Rokach and other municipal leaders were imprisoned in Latrun for aiding Jewish underground organizations. He was released in September 1947.

In 1952, Rokach delivered a farewell speech and ceased his municipal duties in Tel Aviv. However, he officially continued as mayor until Chaim Levanon was elected to replace him on April 13, 1953.

Rokach served as head of the Maccabi World Union. He was a member of the Knesset from its first inception until the third as a member of the General Zionists. In the first and second Knessets, he was also a member of the Finance Committee. In the third Knesset, he also held the position of deputy speaker.

In the fourth and fifth governments, between 1952 and 1955, Rokach served as the Interior Minister of Israel. In 2008, Israel honored him on a postage stamp.


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