Presidents of Israel
The following table lists the presidents of the state of Israel since its inception.
The Israeli Presidency
The Israeli presidency is similar in function to that of many European parliamentary states. That is, it is largely a ceremonial, figurehead position that in some ways takes the place of the monarch in a constitutional monarchy. The President is elected to a seven year term (before 2000: 5 years) by vote of the Israeli Knesset. Selection of candidates to the office is therefore governed to some extent by political considerations, but the office is supposed to be above politics.
Major Presidential functions:
The president is intended to be a person of exceptional intellectual and political achievement. Past presidents included leaders of the Zionist movement and leading intellectuals. In office, they may take up various initiatives in their field of expertise, furthering peace, scientific research or Jewish studies. Some presidents have also taken an activist role, speaking out on issues of national concern.
Though he or she is elected by partisan political vote, the President is supposed to be a consensus figure. Originally, the President was elected at each Knesset election. After the second election in 1951, the law was changed to allow a 5 year term and divorce the office from partisan politics. In 2000, the law was changed to allow a 7 year term.
Under current law, a president's term of office may be terminated prematurely by a vote of 3/4 of the Knesset. If the President is removed from office or incapacitated, the speaker of the Knesset becomes the acting President.
Partisan political considerations interfered in only one presidential election. In 2000, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres, the candidate of the Labor Party, ran against Moshe Katsav, a hack politician who was the candidate of the Likud. Religious parties that had promised their vote to Peres evidently changed it and voted for Katsav, who won an upset victory. Katsav embarrassed Israel in various ways, memorably by telling American Zionist leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism that Reform rabbis are not "real" rabbis. Subsequently, repeated accusations of rape made against Katsav by his secretary and other office personnel forced his resignation, and Shimon Peres became president in 2007. The legal case against Katsav is still pending resolution.
November 30, 2008
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Synonyms and alternate spellings: Mivtza Moked
Oren, Michael, Six Days of War, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp 171-178.
Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:
'H - ('het) a sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.
ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."
u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.
a- sounded like a in arm
ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.
'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.
o - close to the French o as in homme.
th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.
q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.
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This work and individual entries are copyright © 2005-2008 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
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