RAGER, (IJO) ITZHACK, (1932–1997), Israeli journalist, diplomat, businessman, and mayor. Rager was born in Egypt and came to Israel in his infancy in 1932. He was a graduate of the David Yellin Teacher's College, the Hebrew University (in international affairs), Hunter College (in Soviet studies), and the City University of New York Graduate Center (in cross-system analysis). After his army service, in 1955, he was a bureau chief for the minister of interior, Israel Rokach, and in 1958 he joined the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) as a parliamentary correspondent, later becoming chief news editor. In 1962, he was appointed chief European correspondent of IBA in Paris, and upon his return from Paris (1966) was appointed secretary general of the Broadcasting Authority. In 1969 he was chief editor of the Ha-Yom national daily newspaper. From 1971 to 1976 he was consul in London and New York and in 1980–83 was president of the worldwide State of Israel Bonds agency. In 1976 he settled in Beersheba, and in 1983 was appointed chairman of the Eilat Development Company. After building the first shopping mall in Beersheba (1984–89), he was elected mayor of Beersheba. Rager is remembered for numerous achievements during his lifetime. As an IDF officer (colonel, reserve), during the Six-Day War he commanded the battalion that liberated *Gush Etzyon and was the first to enter the city of Bethlehem. As a counselor in London and consul in New York he was an active leader for the freedom of Soviet Jews and participated in the creation of the "35s" Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. During his time as mayor of Beersheba, the city's population grew by 50 percent; he attracted industrial investments and revolutionized the educational system. Rager died of cancer in 1997 during his second term as mayor.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.