Israeli academic Zeev Sternhell, fascism expert and critic of the settler movement, dies at 85


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli academic Zeev Sternhell, an expert on fascism and an outspoken critic of the settler movement, has died.

Sternhell, an internationally recognized expert and author of several books on fascism and ultranationalism, was the head of the Political Science Department at Hebrew University and taught there since 1966. He died Sunday of complications from recent surgery at 85.

Writing in an op-ed in 2001 in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Sternhell called on the Palestinians to target settlers with their bombs and leave Jews inside the Green Line alone.

Several months after receiving the Israel Prize for Political Science in 2008, he was injured by a pipe bomb placed near the door of his home in Jerusalem. A radical right-wing settler was convicted of murder and attempted murder for the killing of two Palestinians and attacks on others, including Sternhell.

He was born Zbigniew Orolski in Poland in 1935. His father died fighting in the Polish army, and his mother and older sister were killed by the Nazis. He was provided with false papers identifying him as an Aryan, and was baptized and became an altar boy in Krakow. He was taken in 1946 to France on a Red Cross children’s train, and in 1951 at the age of 16 he immigrated to Israel with the Youth Aliyah organization.

Sternhell was a platoon commander in the Sinai War in 1956 and was a reservist in the Six-Day War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the First Lebanon War in 1982.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters and grandchildren.

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