Theodore Bikel (1924-2015) Z”L

Theodore Bikel (1924-2015) Z”L

Partners for Progressive Israel mourns the passing of Theodore Bikel, PPI’s board chair for many years.  The world knew him as a great performer — both as a singer and an actor.  We knew him as a man of conscience who was true to his principles.  We will miss his wisdom as a leader and his warmth as a friend.

After being fortunate enough to get out of his native Austria, he spent some formative years in what became Israel.  His commitment to a just and secure Israel at peace with its neighbors was a lifelong involvement.  Not only was he PPI’s board chair, but he also led PPI in an important new policy direction, when he declared his solidarity with 150 Israeli performers who publicly pledged to boycott the new theater in the large West Bank settlement town of Ariel.

This prompted our organization to be among the first in the American-Jewish community, and the only Zionist organization, to endorse an economic boycott of West Bank settlements (even as PPI joined most American Jews in opposing the general BDS movement against Israel within the Green Line). He explained his support for the settlement boycott by Israeli performing artists in his opinion piece, “Legitimizing an Obstacle to Peace.”

Two years ago, he worked diligently in our joint effort with Rabbis for Human Rights and others– with an online video and an op-ed article— protesting Israel’s mistreatment of thousands of its Bedouin citizens, whose villages in the Negev go unrecognized by the Israeli government, which repeatedly subjects them to the threat and fact of wholesale demolition and displacement.

Theo represented an alternative voice to mainstream American Jewish attitudes toward Israel.  In his autobiography, he noted that “The American Jewish response to Israel is woefully monolithic. We who are so capable of intricate thought are almost boorishly insistent about viewing the complexities of Israeli society and political makeup through a one-channel, narrow prism.”

Theo headed the Hatikvah Progressive Zionist Slate in the U.S. election earlier this year.  But sadly, he will not join his fellow elected delegates to this October’s World Zionist Congress, a body he has attended and addressed in the past.

In honor of Theodore Bikel, Partners for Progressive Israel is establishing a commemorative fund to continue his great work toward a progressive Israel.  Click here to donate to the Theodore Bikel Peace and Justice Fund.


  1. Nomi July 24, 2015 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    I have listened to Bikel’s music for a good 50 yrs. One could tell music was a passion for him. (There’s a great photo in the NYT of Hepburn, Bogart and Huston on the set of the African Queen-listening to Bikel strumming away on his guitar- you can see on their faces they were mesmerized!) The same passion one heard in his music, whether in Yiddish, Hebrew or English, at times serious, at times funny, (“…and there is singing and there is dancing and the Russian borsht is alright, come to the kretchma, that’s where you’ll catch ma…drinking whiskey every night…”), is the same passion he exhibited in his politics.
    One could always feel his sincerity and humanity, coupled with insight and intelligence.
    He will be sorely missed, but we are all so much better for having experienced his great art and political engagement.

    • Vina May 17, 2016 at 6:23 am - Reply

      Ska bå de ladda ner See the Future och den andra Expansionen har tyvärr haft ffullt upp med alla Fallout 3 exsnnpioneraa som det tyvärr bara finns (3) av men ska skaffa points sabbt som attan nu måste ha båda expansionerna längtar tillbaka till Fable 2=) Det känns som evigheter sedan liksom Bioshock=)

    • http://www./ September 9, 2016 at 11:12 am - Reply

      That’s a shrewd answer to a tricky question

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