Aharon Cohen Dead at 70

Aharon Cohen, one of Israel’s leading experts on the Middle East and Israel-Arab relations, died yesterday in his home in Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim near Haifa. He was 70 years old.

Cohen was born in Britshani, Bessarabia and settled in Palestine in 1929. He was a founding member of the Arab Department of Hashomer Hatzair and a leading member of Mapam. From 1941 to 1948 he was secretary of The League for Jewish-Arab Rapprochement and Cooperation.

For more than 30 years he was deeply involved in research and clarification of the problems of the Arab world and Jewish-Arab relations. His most famous work on this was “Israel and the Arab World “which was published in Israel in Hebrew in 1964 and published in the United States in English in 1970. Other works dealing with these issues included “The Arab East” and “The Arab World Today: 1918-1958.”

More than 20 years ago, Cohen went on trick in Israel for having “contacts with a foreign agent” following a meeting with a Soviet diplomat. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison on the basis of Israel’s security law which banned any contact with foreign agents and obliged anyone accused of violating this law to prove that the State’s security was not violated.

Cohen appealed his sentence to the Supreme Court but his appeal was rejected. However, Supreme Court Justice Haim Landau, who is now president of the Court, strongly criticized the law and said that it was untenable. The law was subsequently changed and Cohen was later pardoned by the President.

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