David Peleg, Israeli historian and diplomat, dies at 72


JERUSALEM (JTA) — David Peleg, an Israeli historian and a longtime diplomat who served as director of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, has died.

Peleg, Israel’s former ambassador to Poland, died Nov. 27 in Israel following a long illness. He was 72.

The Jerusalem native, whose family was from Poland, served as an Israeli envoy starting in 1965, finishing his career in Warsaw from 2004 to 2009. Previous stops included Zambia, Atlanta, London, Washington, New York and Geneva.

He was appointed director-general of the World Jewish Restitution Organization after leaving the Israeli Foreign Ministry in 2009.

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Restitution Organization as well as the World Jewish Congress, praised Peleg as a “thoughtful and skilled professional who did not seek the limelight but instead fought tirelessly to secure a small measure of justice for the dispossessed victims of the Holocaust and their heirs.”

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement that Peleg “was an Israeli patriot, proud of the country he represented and angered by the efforts to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state.”

Harris said he met Peleg 25 years ago, when Peleg served as minister of public affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

“He was a voice for strengthening the bonds of Jews worldwide, and in particular between Israel and the Diaspora,” Harris said. ” He helped keep alive the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust through his work as a diplomat and later at the WJRO.”

Peleg graduated from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem after studying general history and the history of Islam.

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