Kubowitzki, Léon

Kubowitzki, Léon
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Biographical History

Léon Kubowitzki was a socialist Zionist leader. After obtaining a law degree (1925) he worked as a lawyer in Antwerp. He was elected in the Antwerp city council for the Belgian socialist party. Kubowitzki, a true polyglot, played a key role in several Zionist organisations, both in Belgium and on the international level, during the interwar period and afterwards. In 1916 he founded (with Abraham Weiss) the Belgian branch of the Zeire Zion youth movement. He co-organised its fusion with Poale Zion (of which he was also a member) some years later. As its principal and uncontested leader, he represented the Belgian Poale Zion-Zeire Zion at party congresses and at the Zionist Congresses. Kubowitzki was the head of the Commission des Affaires de la Diaspora (created at the Zionist Congress in Luzern, 1935). He became an ardent proponent of an economic boycott of Nazi Germany, and was active in both the Verbond voor Economisch Verweer (VEVA) in Antwerp and the Comité d’Action Économique in Brussels. Kubowitzki was one of the persons behind the constitution of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in 1936, and was included in its Executive Committee. He was one of the main Zionist leaders in Belgium – noteworthy are i.a. his involvement with Beth Zion (the centre of Zionist life in Brussels), his work for its magazine Kadimah and the creation of the Conseil des Associations juives de Bruxelles (in 1937-1938). Kubowitzki was also among the most active militants of the Fédération Sioniste de Belgique after its return to Belgium from exile in the Netherlands after the First World War. He was its secretary-general for two years, and revived the periodical Hatikwah, for which he also wrote regularly. Kubowitzki left Belgium after the German invasion, reached Bordeaux, and finally (at the request of the Histadrut) went to New York, where he occupied the function of secretary-general of the WJC during the war. In 1948 Kubowitzki migrated to Israel where he was known under the name Aryeh Kubovy. There he first worked as legal advisor of the Histadrut. From 1951 onwards he occupied diplomatic positions for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – first as Minister Plenipotentiary of Israel for Poland and Czechoslovakia in Prague (1951-1952), then as Israeli ambassador in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chili (1953-1958). In 1959, Kubowitzki was among the founders of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He assumed the presidency of this institution until his death in 1966. Léon Kubowitzki was married to the poet and writer Myriam Goldstein-Kubovy (1897-1992).