Israel Resource Review 16th January, 2007


Shalom Yuri - Eulogy for MK Yuri Shtern
David Bedein

Dr.Yuri Shtern, a member of the Knesset who came on Aliyah from the former USSR in 1981, died today at the young age of 58.

I knew this man. Not as a politician. He came into my office twenty years ago, needing a place to work. Not a job. A place to work. To help new immigrants struggle with their first stages of Aliya.

Indeed, Yuri took a cubicle at Beit Agron and worked round the clock.

After a few years of hard work, he came to the conclusion that he could only really help people if he would enter politics.

So he ran on Sharansky's ticket, and then he ran on Avigdor Leiberman's ticket.

And he served in the Knesset for mroe than ten years, where he served as the chairman of the Interior committee and then as chairman of the Controls committee. With unanswered questions that he raised about corruption and brutality which became endemic to public life in the past few years.

No car. No special priviledges. Only flying economy class when he travelled abroad. Yuri was there to do one thing: to help people in need. And that is what he did. He worried about the people who were under threat of jail for debts. He was outraged at a system which allowed for too much police brutality.

And the final straw for Yuri was the government's wanton treatment of the people who lived and who were expelled from their homes in Katif and the Shomron. With every step in the twisted way in which the government handled this process, Yuri developed severe headaches.

When the Israel High Court of Justice ruled in June 2005 that the expedited expulsion orders overrode the Israel code of human rights and civil liberties, I watched Yuri literally collapse in his office. "This is why we left the Soviet Union. This is what we fought against in the Soviet Union".

A few months ago, in Yuri's way of saying goodbye, he gathered friends in his apartment to hear their plans to carry on the struggle in Israel for a better and more just place to live in.

Yuri told us that the finest doctors had tried to diagnose the source of his disease and could not find one. Yuri told his doctors that it was the disengagement policy that was killing him.

Remembering the scene on TV in the Neve Dekalim synagogue of Yuri being knocked to the floor and dragged out by the police when he dared to question police tactics, we can now understand that the disengagement policies of the government of Israel have claimed a fatality. That of Yuri Shtern, a man who will be missed.


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