Israeli champion of civil rights dies

Shulamit Aloni, one of the greatest civil rights activists Israel have ever had, died on Friday.  Former MK Aloni is mostly known in the LGBT community for working towards changing the law of a gay sex being a criminal felony in Israel, until she finally succeeded in 1988.

shulamit-aloni-gShulamit Aloni, an Israeli legislator who championed civil rights and was fiercely critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, died on Friday. She was 85. Meretz, the party she helped found and led, announced her death in a statement on its website. The party did not reveal the cause of death.

Aloni was born in Tel Aviv and fought in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation. First elected to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in 1965, she served for 28 years and held a number of Cabinet posts.

An audacious speaker and one of few women to openly challenge the nation’s rabbis, Aloni fought for civil liberties, women’s rights and a separation of church and state. But her boisterous crusade for secular rights was perceived as offensive by some ultra-Orthodox.

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A 30-year veteran of Israel’s parliament, Aloni served as education minister and later communications minister in the late Yitzhak Rabin’s government in the early 1990’s. Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli ultranationalist protesting a 1993 interim deal with the Palestinians.

Aloni continued her activism long past her retirement from politics in 1996, demanding at a 2011 Tel Aviv peace rally “the complete end of occupation.”

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