Former chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court Meir Shamgar passed away Friday at the age of 94. Shamgar is survived by his wife, Michal (née Rubinstein) and his three children. Shamgar was preceded in death by his first wife and the mother of his children, Geulah, who passed away in 1983.
No time has yet been set for his funeral.
Born in Danzig on August 13th, 1925 to Revisionist Zionist parents Eliezer and Dina Sterenberg, Shamgar moved to the British Mandate for Palestine in 1939, and later joined the Haganah’s Palmach force.
Five years after his arrival in Mandatory Palestine, Shamgar was arrested by British police and deported to Eritrea, where he was detained along with Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir, before returning to Israel after the establishment of the State in 1948.
After studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of London, Shamgar joined the IDF as a military prosecutor, and in 1961 was appointed Military Advocate General, later attaining the rank of Brigadier General.
Shamgar served as Israel’s Attorney General from 1968 to 1975, after which he was tapped to serve on the Israeli Supreme Court. Shamgar became chief justice of the court in 1983.
During his 12-year tenure, Shamgar significantly expanded the court’s role in intervening in government policy, substantially easing the previous restrictions on justiciability.
Pushing the cause of judicial activism in the Supreme Court, Shamgar said that judicial review – despite the lack of a codified constitution – was not only a right but a responsibility of the Court.
“I believe that it is not only the right of the court to intervene, but also its responsibility, since it has a special place in the creation of social norms,” wrote Shamgar.
In 1995, Shamgar retired from the court. A year later, he headed the state’s inquiry into the November 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.