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Namir (née Toib), Ora

NAMIR (née Toib), ORA (1930– ), Israeli politician, member of the Eighth to Thirteenth Knessets. Namir was born in Ḥaderah, and grew up in Moshav Ḥoglah. In the War of Independence she served as an officer in Upper Galilee. During the Second Knesset she served as the secretary of the Mapai parliamentary group, and secretary of the coalition administration. In Israel she studied at the Lewinsky Seminary and the Givat ha-Sheloshah Seminary. In 1954–57 she studied English literature at Hunter College in New York, and served as a secretary with the Israeli delegation to the United Nations, in the years when Abba *Eban was ambassador. When she returned to Israel she went back to her job in the Knesset, and for a while worked as the secretary of the architects' office that was designing the new Knesset building, under Tel Aviv architect Shimon Powsner. In 1959, she married Mordechai *Namir, who was elected as Mapai's first mayor of Tel Aviv in that year, and started to work in the field of social work. In 1967–79 she was secretary of Na'amat (the Histadrut women's section) in Tel Aviv, serving also on the secretariat of national Na'amat (1970–74).

Namir was first elected on the Labor Alignment list to the Knesset in 1973. In 1975, after her husband had passed away, she was appointed by Prime Minister Yitzhak *Rabin as chairperson of a committee of inquiry concerning the status of women in Israel. The committee completed its work after the 1977 political upheaval, and Namir presented its report to Prime Minister Menaḥem *Begin in 1978. After the publication of this report, which pointed to widespread discrimination against women in Israel, the official approach to the subject started to change.

In the Ninth and Tenth Knessets, Namir served as chairperson of the Knesset Education and Culture Committee, and in the Eleventh and Twelfth as chairperson of the Labor and Welfare Committee, earning for herself the reputation of a hard-working and highly demanding MK. Her hope to be appointed minister in the National Unity government formed in 1988 was not fulfilled. The following year she considered running for secretary-general of the Labor Party opposite Micha Harish, but withdrew her candidacy claiming that the competition was not fair. In the primaries to the Labor Party leadership in February 1992 she contended opposite Yitzhak *Rabin, Shimon *Peres, and Israel *Kessar, but received less than five percent of the vote. In the government formed by Rabin after the elections to the Thirteenth Knesset she was at first appointed minister of the environment, and in December 1992, minister of labor and welfare. Namir ran in the Labor primaries for the elections to the Fourteenth Knesset, but even though she received a realistic place in the list, she was offended by the fact that among the women Dalia *Itzik came before her. She then resigned from the Thirteenth Knesset shortly before the elections, after being appointed ambassador to Beijing – a position she held from 1996 to 2000.

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