The Eulogizer: Israel Trail builder Uri Dvir, anti-Israel activist Simon Levin


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. 

Uri Dvir, 80, Israel Trail founder

Uri Dvir, a pioneer of Israeli hiking and initiator of the Israel Trail, died July 3 at 80 at his home in Tel Aviv.

Dvir authored numerous books on hiking and wrote a column on “tiyyulim,” the all-inclusive Hebrew word for day hikes and camping trips, for Ynet, the largest Israeli news website. His final article, on a trail at Nahal Shikma, near Israel’s southwest coast, was published the day he died. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel said Dvir was responsible for tens of thousands of kilometers of trails and markers in the country. He was one of the organization’s founders and was a leader in it for four decades.

His major achievement was the development in the 1980s of the Israel Trail, a nearly 600-mile hiking path that runs from the Lebanese border in the North to the Red Sea in the South. The route includes scenic, historic, natural and urban sites, including the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, and stays within the Green Line.

“No one knows the country like (him),” said Udi Dan, editor of an Israeli nature magazine to which Dvir contributed. Dvir knew “every path, every site — and the stories behind them.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that like many in Israel, he grew up on the stories of hikes and locations that Dvir told on a long-running radio program.

Dvir founded and headed the Land of Israel Studies Department at Beit Berl College, was a founder of Egged Tours for the national bus cooperative, and received numerous environmental awards over the years.

Simon Levin, 36, British anti-Israel activist

Simon Levin, a longtime British left-wing and anti-Israel activist, who said the loss of family members in the Holocuast fueled his political activities, died June 24 at 36.

Levin was most recently in the public eye in the United Kingdom when he and six others were cleared of destroying machinery and equipment inside a British company they said produced weaponry for the Israeli army. They had claimed the attack was done to prevent “Israeli war crimes.”

Levin offered his own experiences as a volunteer in Palestinian villages as evidence. After hearing of his acquittal, Levin said, “Considering that the whole point of this is that we have broken no law, hopefully it will set a precedent for the people of this country to realize that in a liberal democracy we are the checks and balances.”

In 2010, Levin and others seeking to press a boycott of Israeli products in Britain pitched a tent in the aisle of a store and urged shoppers not to buy Israeli goods. They handed out leaflets reading "Dear shopper, do you really want to buy stolen goods? Do you really want to buy goods from a country guilty of war crimes?"

“Despite personal battles, Simon never gave up on the struggle for justice and the well-being of those lucky enough to count him as a friend,” an online journal said. “One such friend said, ‘Simon was not only a dedicated activist in the name of liberty, against oppression in all its forms, but a sublimely passionate human being, whose eccentricities, eloquence and wild imagination will never be forgotten.’"

Levin was born and raised in Brighton, on the south coast of Great Britain. His grandparents were killed in the Auschwitz death camp.

One website said that those who want to remember Levin should “go to their local arms factory, importer of Israeli goods or oppressor of workers and ‘do a vigil, noise demo or action. Have a beer. He would have liked that.’ "

An Irish group fighting a gas pipeline “dedicated” a one-day blockade of the offices of Royal Dutch Shell to Levin.

(Write to the Eulogizer at Read previous columns here.)

Recommended from JTA