• Issue: June 1968
  • Designer: O. Adler
  • Plate no.: 216
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

Moshe Sharett (Shertok)

Moshe Sharett was born in Kharson in the Ukraine on the October 15, 1894. From there his family made their way to the Arab village of Ein Siniya where they lived for two years, from 1906 to 1908. From there to the many and great missions which he carried out for the people and land of Israel, he traversed a long and wonderful path.

He was a member of the first graduating class of the Herzlia High School in 1913; he was one of the early members of the Halutz ("pioneer") movement; he was one of the editors of the daily newspaper Davar; he headed the political department of the Jewish Agency. He made tremendous efforts to set up a Jewish fighting force - the Jewish Brigade - and the decision to form it was taken in 1944. This Brigade was some slight compensation for the terrible bereavement of the Holocaust, in face of the frustrated efforts at rescue, and of the political and economic strangulation which the White Paper of 1939 imposed on the Jewish Yishuv of Palestine. This Jewish Brigade crowned his efforts to set up a Jewish Defense Force, and his awareness and contribution to every attempt made to restore Jewish national pride and self-respect.

His stand was always courageous - when dealing with difficult obstructive officials and foreign governors, on exalted platforms and behind the barbed wire of the Latrun Camp where he was interned by the British from June 29 until November 5, 1946, on the charge of being a national leader of the first rank.

He had the rare capability of explaining the justice of political Zionist demands to all sections of the nation, to the peoples of the world and at their assemblies as the emissary of the Jewish Agency. As the first minister for foreign affairs of the State of Israel, from 1948 to 1956, he put the complicated problems of the State before world bodies. He appeared before the Peel Royal Commission in 1936, the Woodhead Partition Commission in 1938, the Anglo-American Enquiry Commission in 1946, and the international UNSCOP Commission in 1947. His testimony was always a masterpiece of national pride and self-respect, diplomatic argumentation, profound political insight, an amazing marshalling of facts and powerfully expressive language.

For years it was he who stood on the threshold of world bodies, suffering the insults hurled at the homeless Jewish people. In his Geneva Diary of 1937 he writes: "I cannot conclude this chapter without again stressing the burning insult I suffered during all those hours when my colleagues and I were left sitting outside, deprived of any share in the assembly of the representatives of the nations who were discussing and arguing about us . . . This is a shameful and humiliating date." And how proud he was when he crossed that threshold to have his say as the representative of a nation among nations. His political path was absolutely logical. His name appears among those who signed the Proclamation of Independence, his work continued as a member of the Provisional State Council, he was a member of the Knesset for Mapai and the first foreign minister in the State of Israel. At the height of his parliamentary career, Moshe Sharett served as the second prime minister of Israel from December 1953 to November 1955.

He was always a man of literary, intellectual and spiritual qualities, and his moral stature served as an example to the nation both in Israel and abroad. In spite of his many occupations and preoccupations he found time to write two books, "Israel Among the Nations" and "Travels in Asia," to prepare a third book "Lights That Were Extinguished," and to publish a slim volume of poetry in translation. These qualities and talents enabled him to contribute so much of his spirit to the institution, Beit Berl, named for his friend and mentor Berl Katznelson, and to head the Am Oved publishing house. It was his breadth of spirit which led him to accept the position which was his last public office, chairman of the Zionist Organization (1960-1965), an office in which he met with every part of world Jewry. He was thus able to bring the message of world Jewry to Israel and that of Israel Jewry to Jews throughout the world, strengthening the living links of love and understanding - living testimony to the unity of the Jewish nation.

Moshe Sharett's ways of dealing in his public life were carefully shaped and polished, well adapted to his subject and purpose. Thus he was able to converse directly with everyone - with each in his own language: Jews, Arabs and Turks; Englishmen, Frenchmen and Russians. In his pursuit of clarity, of perfection of formulation, he introduced new linguistic expressions into the Hebrew language, which have become such common usage that their inventor tends to be forgotten. There are many words and phrases which Moshe Sharett planted anew in everyday Hebrew.

His deep sensitivity to Jewish honor enabled him to understand the feelings of the Arab peasant, and he won friends wherever he went. So, both in his own country and in the great world of politics his friends and admirers grew in number throughout the years of his activity in public life, from 1919 when he was secretary of the Department of Lands and Arabs of the "Committee of Deputies" until his death on July 7, 1965.

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27th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem