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Avner Shalev - Deputy Chairman

Avner Shalev. Photo by Mikołaj Grynberg
Avner Shalev. Photo...

Avner Shalev has been Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate since 1993. Upon becoming Chairman, Shalev initiated a multi-year development plan aimed at equipping Yad Vashem with the necessary tools to address the challenges of Holocaust remembrance in the 21st century. As part of this plan Shalev placed education as a high priority at Yad Vashem, spearheading the establishment of the International School for Holocaust Studies, and created a new Museum Complex. Shalev serves as the chief curator of the new Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum, which opened in March 2005. During his tenure he also brought about the uploading of Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names onto the Internet, harnessing modern technology in the service of Holocaust remembrance and education. In 2003, Shalev accepted the Israel Prize on behalf of Yad Vashem, for recognition of Yad Vashem’s special contribution to the society and State of Israel.  In 2007, Shalev was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his efforts on behalf of Holocaust awareness world-wide, and also accepted the Spanish Prince of Asturias Award for Concord on behalf of Yad Vashem. 

Born in 1939 in Jerusalem, Shalev served in the Israel Defense Forces between 1956 and 1980, reaching the rank of brigadier general. Shalev was wounded in action on the Egyptian front during the Six-Day War. Between

1972 and 1974 he served as bureau chief for IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar. Other army positions held by Shalev included: head of the Information and Instruction Division of the General Staff; education officer at the IDF Officers School; chief education officer and head of the Education Corps, where he was editor-in-chief of the IDF Radio Station and the IDF weekly magazine; and senior lecturer at the IDF National Security College.

After retiring from military service, Shalev served as director general of the Culture Authority in the Ministry of Education and Culture, and chairman of the National Culture and Art Council. He was also a member of the directorate of various national museums and cultural institutions in Israel. In these positions he was responsible for formulating and directing national culture policy, and encouraging, supporting and overseeing the funding of all types of cultural and artistic activity in Israel. Shalev also introduced policies to raise the standards of Israel’s leading cultural institutions, and advanced and promoted new cultural programs-such as art and culture festivals throughout the country-in order to increase national cultural awareness and involvement. Another achievement in this period was to transform the Antiquities Division of the Ministry of Education into a national authority. Shalev was also instrumental in enhancing educational opportunities in regional areas by promoting the accreditation of local educational institutions and enabling their students to obtain recognized degrees.

Shalev studied modern history of the Middle East and geography and graduated from the IDF Command and Staff College and National Security College. Among his publications is To Bear Witness - Holocaust Remembrance at Yad Vashem (2005).

Photo by Mikołaj Grynberg