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Khoushi (Schneller), Abba

KHOUSHI (Schneller), ABBA (1898–1969), Israeli labor leader and mayor of Haifa. Born in Turka, Eastern Galicia, he was active in *He-Ḥalutz and Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir in Galicia. He settled in Palestine in 1920 and participated in the founding conference of the *Histadrut. In his first years in the country he worked in road construction, and also in the drainage of swamps in Nahalal and the Jezreel Valley. He was one of the founders of kibbutz Beit Alfa, where he engaged in agriculture. Khoushi gained a proficient knowledge of Arabic, and had numerous Arab acquaintances. In 1927 he settled in Haifa, where he organized dock workers in a trade union within the framework of the Histadrut, and helped to bring 500 Jewish dock workers to Palestine from Salonika. In 1931–51 Khoushi was the secretary of the Haifa Labor Council. On "Black Saturday," June 29, 1946, he managed to avoid detention. He was a member of Aḥdut ha-Avodah, and later of Mapai. He was elected to the First Knesset on the Mapai list, but resigned in 1951 to be elected mayor of Haifa, against the background of the violent seamen's strike that had broken out in Zim ships. Though Mapai objected to the seamen's strike that was supported by Mapam and the Communists, and the police in Haifa participated in the efforts to break up the strike, Khoushi was known for his support of the workers in their industrial struggles, frequently demonstrating his contempt for the "bourgeoisie" of Mount Carmel. As mayor he invested great efforts in developing Haifa, which remained the only city in Israel in which there is public transportation on Saturday, and constructed an underground funicular – the Carmelit – that connected Mount Carmel with the downtown area. He also promoted the creation of parks and places of recreation in the city, and was instrumental in helping establish the University of Haifa. He actively promoted good neighborly relations with the Arab residents of Haifa, and with the Druze settlements of Usfiyya and Dāliyat al-Karmil on the outskirts of Haifa.

He wrote Be-Veit Po'alei Ereẓ Yisrael ("In the Home of the Workers in Ereẓ Yisrael," 1943).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.