Yossi Sarid, former left-wing Israeli government minister, dies at 75

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former left-wing Israeli government minister Yossi Sarid was buried in central Israel in a civil ceremony.

Sarid, a former Knesset member and government minister and head of the Meretz party, died on Friday at his home of a heart attack at the age of 75. Hundreds of people attended his funeral on Sunday.

“He was always worried about something and the burden of the whole world was on his shoulders. Now he is resting,” his son, Yishai Sarid, said at the grave, according to Israel’s Channel 2.

“His voice accompanied us, a voice that kept reminding us that there is no conflict between justice and political intelligence. There is no contradiction between love for Israel and the hope for peace and vice versa,” author Amos Oz said in his eulogy.

Sarid served in nine Knessets for 32 years between 1974 and 2006, first for the Labor Alignment and then Meretz parties. He began his political career as speechwriter and diplomatic adviser to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, after serving as a military correspondent for Israel Radio and Davar newspaper, and before that a member of the artillery corps in Israel’s army.

He served stints as education minister and environment minister in the governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.

After retiring from politics in 2006, Sarid began writing weekly columns for the Haaretz newspaper.

“Yossi Sarid had a unique voice in Israeli politics; he was opinionated and sharp. Even though we disagreed on many issues, I appreciated his devotion to his path, his broad knowledge and the meticulous Hebrew with which he spoke and wrote,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued after Sarid’s death.

“Yossi Sarid was one of the State of Israel’s leading parliamentarians and politicians. He was a fierce, challenging, and faithful fighter for his beliefs. Even when his criticisms were sharp and harsh, he always related to his opponents with great seriousness and respect, even when they emphatically opposed what he said,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement. “Yossi Sarid was a passionate man, and argued passionately. Ideologically, Sarid was uncompromising to all including himself.”

He is survived by his wife, Dorit, their three children, and grandchildren.

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