David Kimche: A Life in Service

David Kimche: A Life in Service -

David (Dave) Kimche was born in London in 1928 as the ninth child in his family. During his childhood, he moved with his family to Switzerland before returning to England just before the outbreak of World War II. As a young man, he became involved in the Zionist movement and made Aliyah to Israel in 1946, initially as a student of agriculture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His commitment to the cause led him to stay in Israel after his student visa expired. In parallel with his studies, he worked as an editor at the "Palestine Post," a British-run newspaper in Jerusalem.

Fight for Independence

In November 1947, David Kimche enlisted in the "Haganah," the Jewish paramilitary organization in British Mandate Palestine. He served as a fighter in the student platoon of the Moriah Battalion and played a significant role in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, during which he was wounded in the Battle of Abu Tor in Jerusalem.

Academic Pursuits

After Israel's War of Independence, Kimche decided to leave his studies in agriculture behind and pursued a bachelor's and master's degree in Middle Eastern studies and sociology, which he completed in 1953. Two years later, he furthered his education at the Institute of African and Asian Studies at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. In 1970, he completed his doctorate in international relations, with his research focusing on the Afro-Asian movement.

Intelligence Career

In 1953, Kimche joined the Israeli intelligence agency. Initially, he served as an instructor at the School of Political Science in Jerusalem. In 1955, he moved to the "Tzomet" division, responsible for human intelligence, and served as the head of its European branch.

Later, he was appointed as the head of a department within the "Tav" division, responsible for intelligence and diplomatic relations. In the 1960s, he went on several missions to Africa and Asia.

In 1968, he was tasked with establishing the operations headquarters at the intelligence agency responsible for coordination between operational units. In 1973, he served as the head of "Tav" in Europe, and in 1976, he was appointed as the head of "Tav" division. Throughout his career, Kimche operated under various covers, including as a journalist, businessman, and diplomat.

Diplomatic and Government Roles

In 1980, David Kimche retired from the intelligence agency and was appointed as the Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a position he held until 1986. During these roles, Kimche was involved in numerous covert diplomatic events. He met with Bashir Gemayel in Lebanon in 1976 during the establishment of relations between Israel and Lebanese Christians. He was also involved in various Israeli actions during the Iran-Iraq War and the First Lebanon War.

After his tenure at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kimche served as a special envoy for Israel, primarily focusing on Eastern Europe. He also undertook special missions and was part of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid Conference in 1991. In October 2003, he was among the architects of the Geneva Initiative.

Authorship and Legacy

Over the years, David Kimche wrote numerous articles for the "Jerusalem Post" on political topics under various pseudonyms. He co-authored two books with his brother, the British-Jewish journalist John Kimche: "Hidden Roads" on the Aliyah movement, and "From Both Sides of the Hill" on the history of the Israeli War of Independence from both the Israeli and British-Arab perspectives. Together with journalist Dan Bavli, he wrote "The Six-Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East."

In English, he published his book "The Afro-Asian Movement," a product of his studies at the Sorbonne.

Kimche held various leadership positions in Israel, including President of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, Trustee of the Hebrew University, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace. For 13 years, he served as Deputy Chairman of MIC (Milicom International Cellular), an international communications conglomerate. From 2005 to 2008, he chaired the Board of Directors of Maariv, a leading Israeli newspaper.


David Kimche passed away in 2010 at his home in Ramat Hasharon, succumbing to cancer. He was laid to rest at Kibbutz Shfayim. He left behind his second wife, Ruth, and four children from two marriages.

At his funeral, Shabtai Shavit, a former head of the Israeli intelligence agency, eulogized Kimche by saying, "We have lost the ultimate intelligence man… Dave was an intellectual, a spymaster, a diplomat, and a man of action, one of the best the Agency ever had." David Kimche's life and career continue to be a testament to his dedication to Israel and his role in shaping the nation's history and diplomacy.

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