The Knesset on Tuesday held a ceremony in memory of its 12th speaker, Dov Shilansky (Likud). Elected to the Knesset in 1977, Shilansky was appointed Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in 1981, and in 1988 became Speaker of the Knesset. After the 1992 elections he served as Deputy Speaker. In 1993 he was a candidate for President, but was defeated by Ezer Weizman.
Following the ceremony, a commemorative plaque was placed at the entrance to the parliament building’s auditorium, which is now called “Shilansky Auditorium.”
“Today we are continuing the nice tradition of commemorating Knesset speakers throughout the generations,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said. “Dov had a special personality which left a deep impression, both on the Israeli public and on the Knesset and its character,” he added. Edelstein also mentioned Shilansky’s efforts, as a Holocaust survivor, to commemorate it “in any way possible.” In this regard, Edelstein noted that Shilansky, who passed away in 2010, initiated the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony, which is held annually at the Knesset on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Shilansky, who made Aliyah in 1948 on the Altalena, an Irgun ship that was sank by Haagana guns commanded by Yitzhak Rabin, was a vehement opponent of the reparations deal the Ben Gurion government signed with West Germany. In October 1952, Shilansky was arrested while attempting to bring a suitcase time bomb with 25 TNT tubes into the Israeli Foreign Ministry. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison and was released after 14 months.
Shilansky`s brother Aryeh said: ”Dov`s great love was the Land of Israel and the State of Israel. He considered his election to the Knesset and his activity here as the pinnacle of his life. The memory of the Holocaust and the desire to remember and not forget was a theme that accompanied him throughout his life. He was our axis – four brothers who were saved from the Holocaust and made Aliyah to Israel. We wish to thank the Knesset speaker for commemorating him in this auditorium.” The construction of the auditorium began during Shilansky`s term as Knesset speaker, his brother noted.
Former Knesset speaker Dan Tichon said ”Shilansky`s door was always open, and he dealt with severe crises in Israeli democracy which occurred during the second unity government, as well as with the crisis which followed the [Shimon Peres] `dirty trick.` Shilansky was one of the country`s greatest politicians.”
Tuesday`s ceremony was held as part of Speaker Edelstein`s initiative to commemorate deceased Knesset speakers. In the past two years, the government conference room in the Knesset was named after Yitzhak Shamir; a hall formerly called ”Galil” was named after Joseph Shprinzak; the plaza at the entrance to the committees` lobby was named after Yitzhak Berman; and the public gallery in the plenary hall was named after Nahum Nir. In the coming months, the Knesset will also memorialize the speaker of the Third Knesset, Kadish Luz.