Dov Yosef

Dov Yosef
Dov Yosef
Date of birth 27 May 1899
Place of birth
Year of aliyah 1918
Date of death 7 January 1980
Knessets 1st, 2nd, 3rd
Party Mapai
Ministerial posts Minister of Rationing & Supply
Minister of Agriculture
Minister of Transportation
Minister of Justice
Minister of Trade & Industry
Minister without Portfolio
Minister of Development
Minister of Health

Dov Yosef (Hebrew: דב יוסף‎, born Bernard Joseph on 27 May 1899, died 7 January 1980) was an Israeli politician and statesman. Yosef served in a variety of ministerial positions during the first two Knessets and was the country's second Minister of Justice, serving twice (1951–52 and 1961–66).


Yosef was born in Montreal, Canada, as Bernard Joseph. He attended McGill University, Université Laval, and the University of London, qualifying as an attorney.

Yosef immigrated to Israel in 1918 with the Canadian Jewish Legion which he helped organize. After the end of World War I, Yosef worked as an attorney in Mandatory Palestine. During Israel's War of Independence he served Military Governor of Jerusalem during the Blockade.

Political career

In 1933 Yosef joined David Ben-Gurion's Mapai party. Three years later he became legal adviser to the Political Department of the Jewish Agency.[1] He became a member of the Jewish Agency Executive Committee and a member of the World Zionist Organisation's Political Committee.[2]

Zionist leaders, arrested in Operation Agatha, in detention in Latrun (l-r): David Remez, Moshe Sharett, Yitzhak Gruenbaum, Dov Yosef, Mr. Shenkarsky, David Hacohen, and Mr. Halperin (Isser Harel) (1946)

In December 1947 the Jewish Agency appointed him head of the Jerusalem Emergency Committee and in August 1948 he became Military Governor of Jerusalem.[3] (see Siege of Jerusalem (1948)). He was elected to the first Knesset in January 1949. He was initially appointed Minister of Rationing and Supply in the first government, a key position during the austerity period. In June 1949 he was also appointed Agriculture Minister.

The first government collapsed in October 1950 due to wranglings over refugee camps and religious education, but also because Ben-Gurion wanted the Rationing and Supply Ministry closed down. The Prime Minister got his way, and in the new government Yosef was moved to the transportation ministry.

He retained his seat in the 1951 elections, and was appointed as both Minister of Justice and Minister of Minister of Trade and Industry, losing the former portfolio in June 1952. After the government collapsed again over the issue of religious education in December 1952, Yosef was initially appointed Minister without Portfolio in the new government, before switching to the Development Ministry in June 1953. He retained this position in the new government formed by Moshe Sharett after Ben-Gurion had resigned to go and live on Kibbutz Sde Boker. After Sharett resigned and formed a new government again in 1955, Yosef remained Development Minister, but also became Minister of Health.

He retained his seat again in the 1955 elections, but was not appointed to a ministerial post. He lost his seat in the 1959 elections, and never regained MK status. However, during the fifth Knesset he was appointed Minister of Justice by Ben-Gurion despite being outside the Knesset. When Ben-Gurion was replaced by Eshkol he remained Justice Minister, but was not reappointed after the 1965 elections.

Yosef caused a political scandal when he published in 1960 an autobiographic book, "The Faithful City", which focused on the siege of Jerusalem in 1948. He claimed that David Shaltiel, the commander of Jerusalem gave him a wrong picture of the situation in the city, causing the fall of the old city.


  1. ^ Joseph, Dov. "The Faithful City. The Siege of Jerusalem, 1948" . Simon and Schuster, 1960. Congress # 60 10976, pages 5,6.
  2. ^ Joseph, pages 12,25.
  3. ^ Joseph, pages 26, 145.

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