28 Tamuz, 5760
Remembering Uri Gordon
Chaim Chesler, Treasurer of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization
Uri Gordon, Zionist leader and former head of the Jewish Agency's Department of Immigration and Absorption, who died this morning, "devoted his entire life to Zionist activity," said Chaim Chesler, Treasurer of the Jewish Agency this morning. "He represented for me the true Israeli, the path breaker, an ideologist who did not only speak but was also, throughout his life, a man of actions, a committed Zionist who was always looking for new ways to fulfill and enrich the Zionist dream":
In the 1960s, Gordon became a leader of the young generation of the Labor Party when he spearheaded the campaign to pass a resolution stating that every Zionist leader must personally commit him or herself to immigrate to Israel.
In the 1970s, when under Arye Dulzin's chairmanship of the Jewish Agency Executive, Gordon was sent as a shaliach to the United States, and founded "Telem" (Movement for Zionist Fulfillment), which sought to focus the spotlight on Jewish-Zionist education and immigration to Israel. A condition of membership in Telem was a personal commitment to immigrate to Israel; and indeed, a very large number of graduates of the movement in fact moved to Israel.
In the 1980s, as head of the Jewish Agency's Youth Aliya Department, Gordon was responsible for the absorption of Ethiopian youth who had arrived in Operation Moses.
"It was at this time that I was recruited by Uri Gordon," said Chesler; he has always been for me a teacher and a friend."
In 1987, Gordon was elected to head the Jewish Agency's Department of Immigration and Absorption, and worked to combat emigration from Israel and the drop-out of Soviet Jews who left the USSR on visas for Israel but chose to make their home elsewhere - mainly the United States. In this capacity, Gordon oversaw the second immigration campaign of Ethiopian Jews, Operation Solomon, and the massive wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union from 1989.
"Uri believed that Zionism was the eternal and sole solution to the 'Jewish problem' and that Israel was the expression of Zionism's eternal nature," said Chesler. "He never let his physical disabilities [he was crippled from polio at a young age] hinder him, and despite them, he was always optimistic.
"With his death the Zionist movement has lost one of its finest leaders, and I have lost a friend and mentor. May his memory be blessed."
For further information contact:
Advisor to the Treasurer, JAFI