Yehuda Avner, who served as Israel’s Ambassador to three English-speaking countries and as adviser to five Israeli prime ministers, passed away last night at the age of 86.
A father of four, he will be buried in Jerusalem this afternoon.
Mourned by Yeshiva University as a “true Ohev Yisrael (lover of Israel),” Avner’s biography largely tells the story of the history of the State of Israel.
He was born Yehuda Haffner in England in 1928. Having experienced anti-Semitism there and being involved in the religious-Zionist Bnei Akiva youth movement, he moved to Jerusalem at age 19. He fought for the city during the War of Independence, and in 1949, he was amongst the founders of Kibbutz Lavi, a religious kibbutz in the Galilee.
Avner traveled to Britain to head the Bnei Akiva movement there, then returned to Israel in 1954, joined the Israeli Foreign Service, and ended up in the Prime Minister’s Bureau. He wrote speeches and advised Prime Ministers Levi Eshkolo, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
Among other functions, Avner served as the liaison between the various prime ministers he worked with and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, enjoying many personal interactions with the Rebbe. This was especially so with Menachem Begin during the negotiations for the 1982 Israel-Egypt peace treaty.
He was appointed Ambassador to Britain and Non-resident Ambassador to Ireland in 1983, serving for six years. From 1992 to 1995, he was Israel’s Ambassador to Australia.
Among other writings, Avner authored The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership, a dramatic and historic inside look at the workings of the top echelons of Israel’s government. In 1995, the Yehuda Avner Chair in Religion and Politics was established at Bar-Ilan University.
The funeral will take place today, Tuesday March 24, (4th of Nisan) at Bet HaHesped in Givat Shaul at 4:30 p.m.
Shiva will be held at Diskin 13, Villa 116, Jerusalem, until Monday morning March 30.
Click here to read a fascinating lecture Yehuda Avner delivered in 2008.