Pinhas LAVON

Submitted by Norman Greenfeld

Pinhas LAVON (Lubianiker) (1904-1976) an Israeli labor leader was born in Kopychintsy. He completed his law studies at Lvov University and became one of the main organizers of Histardrut ha-No'ar ha-Amamit ha-Hahitzut Gordonia---The People's Pioneering Association of Youth-Gordonia---in Galicia and Poland. He emigrated to Palestine in 1929 where he became active in the labor movement. He was, variously a secretary of Mapai, general secretary of Histradrut Executive (1949), and served as a member of the Knesset from 1949-1961. He was minister of defense (1953-54) but resigned his post as a consequence of what came to be known as the "Lavon affair", an intelligence mission to Egypt that went very much awry. 11 Jews were tried in Cairo, Egypt for spying; two of them were executed and six others served jail terms. The "affair" concerned the responsibility for the mission, Lavon as minister or a subordinate intelligence officer acting on his own. Regardless, Lavon resigned his position in 1955 and retired from public life in 1964 after unsuccessful (due to Ben-Gurion's opposition?) attempts to reach a satisfactory interpretation of the affair.

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