Retired Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, who chaired, among other things, the state commission of inquiry into PM Yitzchak Rabin’s murder, and an investigation into the slaughter at the Cave of Patriarchs by Dr. Baruch Goldstein, passed away on Friday morning at the age of 94.
Shamgar was appointed to the Supreme Court in July 1975, having served as Attorney General. On November 28, 1983, he was appointed Chief Justice, a position he held for 12 years, until his retirement at the age of 70, on August 13, 1995.
Meir Shamgar (Sterenberg) was born in the Free City of Danzig (Gdańsk), Poland. His parents were Revisionist Zionists. He immigrated to Palestine in 1939, and attended the Balfour Gymnasium in Tel Aviv.
He joined the Hagana underground’s Palmach (shock troops), but later joined Menachem Begin’s Irgun. He was arrested for anti-British activities in 1944, and sent to a detention camp in Eritrea, where he studied Law in a correspondence course from the University of London.
In 1948, he was returned to Israel, enlisted in the fledgling IDF and fought in the 1948 War of Independence.
After the war, he studied History and Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Law at the Government Law School of the University of London.
Shamgar served as honorary president of the public committee for Ethiopian Jews still in Africa, and argued passionately that the State of Israel must be committed to their Aliyah:
“It is the State’s duty to bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel,” Shamgar argued in 2007, “This is not an economic question but a question of our Zionist and Jewish vision. In 1948, half a million Jews were brought over to settle the land, hundreds of thousands from distressed countries, and now a country of seven million can’t absorb a few thousands?”
“The state is not the property of those who are living in it today,” Shamgar declared. “They are just the beginning of the message of the salvation of the children of Israel.”