Peretz Bernstein

Peretz Bernstein


Date of birth = 12 June 1890
Place of birth = Meiningen, Germany
Year of Aliyah = 1936
Date of death = 21 March 1971
Place of death =
Knesset(s) = 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
Party = Gahal
Former parties = General Zionists, Liberal Party
Gov't roles = Minister of Trade & Industry

Peretz Bernstein ( _he. פרץ ברנשטיין, born Shlomo Fritz Bernstein on 12 June 1890, died 21 March 1971) was a Zionist activist and Israeli politician and one of the signatories of the Israeli declaration of independence.


After being born in the German town of Meiningen, Bernstein was fortunate to decide to leave Germany before the First World War, when as a Jew he was refused entry to the officer reserve after army service. He moved to the Netherlands where he worked in the grain trade. In 1917 he joined the Zionist Organisation, serving as secretary and board member. In 1925 he became editor-in-chief of a Zionist weekly, a role he held until 1935, and between 1930 and 1934 served as the Zionist Organisation's president.

He emigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1936, and became editor of the HaBoker newspaper. He joined the Jewish Agency, and became a board member, serving as director of its economics department between 1946 and 1948.

Bernstein was one of the people to sign Israel's declaration of independence on 14 May 1948, and was appointed Minister of Trade and Industry in the provisional government.

He was elected to the first Knesset in 1949 as a member of the General Zionists, but lost his place in the cabinet. Re-elected in 1951, he returned to the cabinet as Minister of Trade and Industry in the fourth and fifth governments. Bernstein also stood as a candidate in the Knesset's election for president in 1952, but withdrew after the second round of voting, having come a distant second to eventual winner Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

Bernstein was returned to the Knesset in elections in 1955, 1959, but did not regain his cabinet position. In 1961 the General Zionists merged with the Progressive Party to form the Liberal Party and Bernstein was elected one of its two presidents. He was re-elected to the Knesset later that year and oversaw the alliance with Menachem Begin's Herut to form Gahal. In 1963 he ran again for president, but lost by 67-33 to Zalman Shazar. Bernstein lost his seat in the 1965 elections and died in 1971.


*"Anti-Semitism as a Social Phenomenon" (1926 in German, 1951 in English, 1980 in Hebrew)

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