Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Author of Just, Reasonable Multiculturalism (2021)

In Memory of David Libai (1934-2023)

I was saddened to hear about the death of David Libai, a person I greatly appreciated.

Libai was an excellent jurist. For many years he lectured at the Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University. He was a well-known figure in the legal circles in Israel for his sharp mind, analytical thinking and vast knowledge.

In 1983, Libai was elected as Chairperson of the Israel Bar. Around that time, he made his first steps in Israeli politics. Libai joined the Labour Party whose leaders recognised his vast potential as a talented jurist and a political activist. Libai was elected to the Knesset in 1984. In 1992, Libai served as justice minister in the second Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin government. He continued to serve in this position under Shimon Peres after Rabin was assassinated on  4 November 1995.

I came to know Libai in the early 1980s when I joined the Labour Party and was chosen to undergo a leadership seminar by the party. We were a group of some 30 people who were active in different branches and positions in the party. Libai was asked to lead this group. We met as a group for a year, on a monthly basis, to discuss different matters and acquaint ourselves with different aspects of politics. Sometimes, Libai was the main speaker. Sometimes, he invited guest speakers to introduce us to specific matters.

It was a distinct honour and pleasure to know Libai. He was crystal sharp, very knowledgeable and very pleasant. It was clear to me that he will serve in senior positions in the party and, if Labour wins the election, in the government as a senior minister. I presume leading the Leadership Seminar was an early assignment tasked to Libai in order to show his seriousness and willingness to invest and serve the Labour Party. I have fond memories from our meetings. I learned a lot.

May his soul rest in peace.

About the Author
Raphael Cohen-Almagor received his doctorate from Oxford University. He taught and conducted research at the faculties of law of the Hebrew University, the University of Haifa, UCLA, University of Hull, Nirma University (India) and University College London. He is President of The Association for Israel Studies (AIS). Raphael is now writing Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Critical Study of Peace Mediation, Facilitation and Negotiations between Israel and the PLO (Cambridge University Press, 2025). X: @almagor35
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