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Ora Namir

(1930 - 2019)

Ora Namir is an Israeli politician and diplomat who served as a cabinet minister and Israeli Ambassador to China.

Namir was born on September 1, 1930, in Hadera during the British Mandate era. Her parents were members of the Hehalutz movement who immigrated to Palestine in 1925;

She served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the War of Independence and later became an officer in the Women’s Corps.

She began her public career as Secretary of the Mapai Knesset faction and later of the coalition executive. In 1954, she was named secretary to the consul-general in the Israeli Consulate in New York. During this period she divorced her first husband, Moshe Nahshon.

After returning to Israel, she was put in charge of an art exhibition marking the state’s 10th anniversary and later managed the office responsible for overseeing the construction of the new Knesset building.

In 1959 she married Mordechai Nami, a widower 33 years her senior.

Namir studied at the Levinsky and Givat Hashlosha teachers’ colleges, and studied classics and English literature at Hunter College in New York.

In June 1967, she was elected Secretary-General of Na’amat (Working Women and Volunteers Organization). In 1975, she was appointed to chair the Prime Minister’s Committee on the Status of Women.

A Member of the Knesset from 1974 to 1996, Namir served as a member of the Committees on Education and Culture (1974-77), Public Services (1974-77) and Public Audit (Control) (1977-81), as well as chairing the Committees on Education and Culture (1977-84) and Labor and Social Welfare (1984-92).

In 1975, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin appointed her chairman of the State Committee for the Status of Women. Three years later she submitted a report to Prime Minister Menachem Begin that included 200 recommendations, including a call for legislation guaranteeing women equality in employment, reserving a quarter of the Knesset seats for women and allowing women to perform any non-combat role in the military.

From 1992-1996, Ora Namir served as Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. She also briefly served as environmental protection minister in 1992. She was appointed Israeli Ambassador to China in 1996, a role she held until 2000. She later served as chairman of the Avshalom Institute for Israel Studies.

She died on July 7, 2019, at the age of 88.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

Ofer Aderet, “Ora Namir, Former Minister and Women’s Rights Advocate, Dies,” Haaretz, (July 8, 2019).