published in jerusalem post, by greer fay cashman, 04/07/12

RETIREMENT FROM public life is something completely alien to former MK and former diplomat Colette Avital, 72. When circumstances take her out of one sphere of activity, she promptly enters another.

child Holocaust survivor who came to Israel from her native Romania when she was 10 years old, Avital is an able representative of female achievers who were born in Romania and came to Israel.

LiaVan Leer was also born in Romania and soon after the start of World War II was sent to Tel Aviv by her parents, whom she never saw again. Philanthropist and honorary president of World WIZO, Raya Jaglom, 93, was sent to Te lAviv just before the war when there were severe outbreaks of anti-Semitism in Romania.

Helena laser, who chairs the Zionist General Council, is another honorary president of World WIZO and was also born in Romania.

All four women are wonderful success stories and don't allow anything to stop them from taking on new projects.

Avital, who as an MK was instrumental in creating state company for the restitution of assets to Holocaust survivors and heirs of Holocaust victims, was last month unanimously elected chair of the central umbrella group for Holocaust survivors in Israel, replacing Moshe Zanbar, Hungarian Holocaust survivor and former Governor of the Bank of Israel, who had stepped in following the death last year of Noach Flug.

Zanbar, who is considerabolly older than Avital, suffers from ill health, while she remains dynamic.

Avital entered politics after some three decades of service in the Foreign Ministry where, among other positions she was ambassador to Portugal and consul general in New York. An extremely active MK, she had hoped to be the first woman president of Israel. She was pressured to drop out of the presidential race so as to ensure that Shimon Peres, who had previously lost to Moshe Katsav, would not be humiliated again. initially Avital refused, but after the first round of voting, in which Peres received more votes than either Avital or MK Reuven Rivlin but not enough for the absolute majority set down in the election rules, both she and Rivlin dropped out. Rivlin makes no secret of the fact that he hopes to be the 1Oth president of Israel after Peres concludes his seven-year term in July, 2014.

Avital still has time to decide whether she wants to vie for the position again. Meanwhile she serves as Director General of the Berl Katznelson foundation's Ideological and Educational Center. Some of her other activities have included international secretary of the Israel Labor Party; chairperson of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies; chairperson of the International Harp Contest and of the Zimrya (Intemational Festival of Choirs); director at the Company for the Restitution of Assets of Victims of the Holocaust and member of the board of the Gesher Theater.

קולט אביטל בפייסבוק


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