The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Israeli Politicians of all time. This list of famous Israeli Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Israeli Politicians.
With an HPI of 80.86, Herod the Great is the most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 71 different languages on wikipedia.
Herod I (; Hebrew: הוֹרְדוֹס, Modern: Hōrdōs, Tiberian: Hōrəḏōs; Greek: Ἡρῴδης Hērṓidēs; c. 72 – 4 or 1 BCE), also known as Herod the Great, was a Roman Jewish client king of Judea, referred to as the Herodian kingdom. He is known for his colossal building projects throughout Judea, including his renovation of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the expansion of the Temple Mount towards its north, the enclosure around the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the construction of the port at Caesarea Maritima, the fortress at Masada, and Herodium. Vital details of his life are recorded in the works of the 1st century CE Roman–Jewish historian Josephus.Herod also appears in the Christian Gospel of Matthew as the ruler of Judea who orders the Massacre of the Innocents at the time of the birth of Jesus, although most Herod biographers do not believe that this event occurred. Despite his successes, including singlehandedly forging a new aristocracy from practically nothing, he has still been criticised by various historians. His reign polarizes opinion among historians, some viewing his legacy as evidence of success, and some viewing it as a reminder of his tyrannical rule.Upon Herod's death, the Romans divided his kingdom among three of his sons and his sister: Herod Archelaus became ethnarch of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea; Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea; Philip became tetrarch of territories north and east of the Jordan River; and Salome I was given a toparchy including the cities of Jabneh, Ashdod, and Phasaelis.
With an HPI of 76.62, Baldwin IV of Jerusalem is the 2nd most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 41 different languages.
Baldwin IV (French: Baudouin; 1161–1185), called the Leper, was King of Jerusalem from 1174 until his death in 1185. He was admired by his contemporaries and later historians for his willpower and dedication to the Latin kingdom in the face of debilitating leprosy, which eventually left him blind and unable to use either his hands or his feet. Choosing competent advisers, Baldwin ruled a thriving realm and succeeded in protecting it from the great Ayyubid Muslim ruler Saladin. Baldwin developed the first symptoms of his leprosy as a child but was only diagnosed after his accession on the death of his father, King Amalric. Thereafter his hands and face became increasingly disfigured. Count Raymond III of Tripoli ruled the kingdom in Baldwin's name until the king reached the age of majority in 1176. As soon as he assumed government, Baldwin planned an invasion of Egypt, which fell through due to his vassals' uncooperativeness. Saladin in turn attacked Baldwin's kingdom in 1177, but the king and the nobleman Raynald of Châtillon repelled him at Montgisard, earning Baldwin fame. The young king mastered horse riding despite gradually losing sensation in his extremities and was able to fight in battles until his last years. Leprosy precluded Baldwin from marrying. He hoped to abdicate when his sister, Sibylla, married William of Montferrat in 1176, but William died the next year. In 1180, in order to forestall a coup by Count Raymond III of Tripoli and Prince Bohemond III of Antioch, Baldwin had Sibylla marry Guy of Lusignan. Guy was opposed by a large fraction of the nobility, and soon permanently impaired his relationship with Baldwin. The internal discord that followed forced Baldwin to remain king, as only he was capable of uniting the quarreling nobility. Baldwin again repelled Saladin in 1182, but leprosy rendered him blind and unable to walk or use his hands in 1183. He disinherited Guy and had Sibylla's son, Baldwin V, crowned co-king before having himself taken in a litter to lift Saladin's siege of Kerak. Baldwin failed to have Sibylla's marriage to Guy annulled and Guy's fief of Ascalon confiscated. In early 1185, he arranged for Raymond to rule as regent for Sibylla's son and died before 16 May.
With an HPI of 76.46, Ariel Sharon is the 3rd most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 92 different languages.
Ariel Sharon (Hebrew: אֲרִיאֵל שָׁרוֹן; IPA: [aʁiˈ(ʔ)el ʃaˈʁon] (listen); Ariʼēl Sharōn; also known by his diminutive Arik, אָרִיק, born Ariel Scheinermann, אֲרִיאֵל שַׁיינֶרְמָן; 26 February 1928 – 11 January 2014) was an Israeli general and politician who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel from March 2001 until April 2006.Sharon was a commander in the Israeli Army from its creation in 1948. As a soldier and then an officer, he participated prominently in the 1948 Palestine war, becoming a platoon commander in the Alexandroni Brigade and taking part in many battles, including Operation Bin Nun Alef. He was an instrumental figure in the creation of Unit 101 and the reprisal operations, as well as in the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. Yitzhak Rabin called Sharon "the greatest field commander in our history".Upon retirement from the military, Sharon entered politics, joining the Likud party, and served in a number of ministerial posts in Likud-led governments in 1977–92 and 1996–99. As Minister of Defense, he directed the 1982 Lebanon War. An official enquiry found that he bore "personal responsibility" for the Sabra and Shatila massacre and recommended that he be removed as Defense Minister. His role in the massacre led to him being known as the "Butcher of Beirut" among Arabs.From the 1970s through to the 1990s, Sharon championed construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He became the leader of the Likud in 2000, and was elected Prime Minister of Israel after defeating Ehud Barak in the 2001 prime ministerial election. He served as Israel's prime minister from 2001 to 2006, during the Al-Aqsa Intifada. As Prime Minister, Sharon orchestrated Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2004–05. Facing stiff opposition to this policy within the Likud, in November 2005 he left Likud to form a new party, Kadima. He had been expected to win the next election and was widely interpreted as planning on "clearing Israel out of most of the West Bank", in a series of unilateral withdrawals. After suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006, Sharon remained in a permanent vegetative state until his death in January 2014.Sharon remains a highly polarizing figure in Middle East history. Israelis almost universally revere Sharon as a war hero and statesman who played a vital role in defining the country's borders, whereas Palestinians revile Sharon as a war criminal who suppressed their aspirations for statehood.
With an HPI of 75.62, Yitzhak Rabin is the 4th most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 87 different languages.
Yitzhak Rabin (; Hebrew: יִצְחָק רַבִּין, IPA: [jitsˈχak ʁaˈbin] (listen); 1 March 1922 – 4 November 1995) was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77, and from 1992 until his assassination in 1995. Rabin was born in Jerusalem to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and was raised in a Labor Zionist household. He learned agriculture in school and excelled as a student. He led a 27-year career as a soldier and ultimately attained the rank of Rav Aluf. As a teenager he joined the Palmach, the commando force of the Yishuv. He eventually rose through its ranks to become its chief of operations during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. He joined the newly formed Israel Defense Forces in late 1948 and continued to rise as a promising officer. He helped shape the training doctrine of the IDF in the early 1950s, and led the IDF's Operations Directorate from 1959 to 1963. He was appointed Chief of the General Staff in 1964 and oversaw Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. Rabin served as Israel's ambassador to the United States from 1968 to 1973, during a period of deepening U.S.–Israel ties. He was appointed Prime Minister of Israel in 1974 after the resignation of Golda Meir. In his first term, Rabin signed the Sinai Interim Agreement and ordered the Entebbe raid. He resigned in 1977 in the wake of a financial scandal. Rabin was Israel's minister of defense for much of the 1980s, including during the outbreak of the First Intifada. In 1992, Rabin was re-elected as prime minister on a platform embracing the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. He signed several historic agreements with the Palestinian leadership as part of the Oslo Accords. In 1994, Rabin won the Nobel Peace Prize together with long-time political rival Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Rabin also signed a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994. In November 1995, he was assassinated by an extremist named Yigal Amir, who opposed the terms of the Oslo Accords. Amir was convicted of Rabin's murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Rabin was the first native-born prime minister of Israel and was the only prime minister to be assassinated and the second to die in office after Levi Eshkol. Rabin has become a symbol of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process.
With an HPI of 75.17, Herod Antipas is the 5th most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.
Herod Antipas (Greek: Ἡρῴδης Ἀντίπας, Hērǭdēs Antipas; born before 20 BC – died after 39 AD), was a 1st-century ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch ("ruler of a quarter") and is referred to as both "Herod the Tetrarch" and "King Herod" in the New Testament, although he never held the title of king. He was a son of Herod the Great and a grandson of Antipater the Idumaean. He is widely known today for accounts in the New Testament of his role in events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 14:1–12). Following the death of his father in 4 BC, Herod Antipas was recognized as tetrarch by Caesar Augustus, and subsequently by his own brother, the ethnarch Herod Archelaus. Antipas officially ruled Galilee and Perea as a client state of the Roman Empire. He was responsible for building projects at Sepphoris and Betharamphtha, and for the construction of his capital Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Named in honour of his patron, the emperor Tiberius, the city later became a centre of rabbinic learning after the Jewish-Roman wars (66–135 AD). Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis, the daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea, in favour of Herodias, who had formerly been married to his half-brother Herod II. (Antipas was Herod the Great's son by Malthace, while Herod II was his son by Mariamne II.) According to the New Testament Gospels, it was John the Baptist's condemnation of this arrangement that led Antipas to have him arrested; John was subsequently put to death in Machaerus. Besides provoking his conflict with John the Baptist, the tetrarch's divorce added a personal grievance to previous disputes with Aretas over territory on the border of Perea and Nabatea. The result was a war that proved disastrous for Antipas; a Roman counter-offensive was ordered by Tiberius, but abandoned upon that emperor's death in 37 AD. In 39 AD Antipas was accused by his nephew Agrippa I of conspiracy against the Roman emperor Caligula, who sent him into exile in Gaul, according to Josephus. Accompanied there by Herodias, he died at an unknown date.The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was first brought before Pontius Pilate for trial, since Pilate was the governor of Roman Judea, which encompassed Jerusalem where Jesus was arrested. Pilate initially handed him over to Antipas, in whose territory Jesus had been most active, but Antipas sent him back to Pilate's court.
With an HPI of 74.16, Goliath is the 6th most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Goliath ( gə-LY-əth) is a character in the Book of Samuel, described as a Philistine giant defeated by the young David in single combat. The story signified King Saul's unfitness to rule, as Saul himself should have fought for Israel. Scholars today believe that the original listed killer of Goliath was Elhanan, son of Jair, and that the authors of the Deuteronomic history changed the original text to credit the victory to the more famous character David.The phrase "David and Goliath" has taken on a more popular meaning denoting an underdog situation, a contest wherein a smaller, weaker opponent faces a much bigger, stronger adversary.
With an HPI of 73.04, Moshe Dayan is the 7th most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.
Moshe Dayan (Hebrew: משה דיין; 20 May 1915 – 16 October 1981) was an Israeli military leader and politician. As commander of the Jerusalem front in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (1953–1958) during the 1956 Suez Crisis, but mainly as Defense Minister during the Six-Day War in 1967, he became a worldwide fighting symbol of the new state of Israel. In the 1930s, Dayan joined the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish defense force of Mandatory Palestine. He served in the Special Night Squads under Orde Wingate during the Arab revolt in Palestine and later lost an eye in a raid on Vichy forces in Lebanon during World War II. Dayan was close to David Ben-Gurion and joined him in leaving the Mapai party and setting up the Rafi party in 1965 with Shimon Peres. Dayan became Defence Minister just before the 1967 Six-Day War. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, during which Dayan served as Defense Minister, he was blamed for the lack of preparedness; after some time he resigned. In 1977, following the election of Menachem Begin as Prime Minister, Dayan was expelled from the Labor Party because he joined the Likud-led government as Foreign Minister, playing an important part in negotiating the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
With an HPI of 72.91, Rehoboam is the 8th most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Rehoboam (; Hebrew: רְחַבְעָם, Rəḥaḇʿām; Greek: Ροβοάμ, Rovoam; Latin: Roboam, transl. "an enlarged people") was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the last monarch of the United Kingdom of Israel and the first monarch of the Kingdom of Judah after the former's split. He was a son of and the successor to Solomon and a grandson of David. In the account of I Kings and II Chronicles, Rehoboam was initially a king of the United Monarchy, but later saw his rule limited to only the Kingdom of Judah in the south following a rebellion by the ten northern tribes of Israel in 932/931 BCE, which led to the formation of the independent Kingdom of Israel under the rule of Jeroboam in the north.
With an HPI of 72.79, Mahmoud Abbas is the 9th most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Mahmoud Abbas (Arabic: مَحْمُود عَبَّاس, romanized: Maḥmūd ʿAbbās; born 15 November 1935), also known by the kunya Abu Mazen (Arabic: أَبُو مَازِن, ʾAbū Māzin), is the president of the State of Palestine and the Palestinian National Authority. He has been the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 11 November 2004, PNA president since 15 January 2005, and State of Palestine president since 8 May 2005. Abbas is also a member of the Fatah party and was elected chairman in 2009. Abbas was elected on 9 January 2005 to serve as President of the Palestinian National Authority until 15 January 2009, but extended his term until the next election in 2010, citing the PLO constitution, and on 16 December 2009 was voted into office indefinitely by the PLO Central Council. As a result, Fatah's main rival, Hamas, initially announced that it would not recognize the extension or view Abbas as the rightful president. Nonetheless, Abbas is internationally recognized in his position(s) and Hamas and Fatah conducted numerous negotiations in the following years, leading to an agreement in April 2014 for a Unity Government (which lasted until October 2016) and to the recognition of his office by Hamas. Abbas was also chosen as the president of the State of Palestine by the PLO Central Council on 23 November 2008, a position he had held unofficially since 8 May 2005.Abbas served as the first prime minister of the Palestinian Authority from March to September 2003. Before being named Prime Minister, Abbas led the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department.
With an HPI of 71.75, Benjamin Netanyahu is the 10th most famous Israeli Politician. His biography has been translated into 108 different languages.
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu (; Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין נְתַנְיָהוּ Bīnyāmīn Nētanyāhū ; born 21 October 1949) is an Israeli politician who has been serving as the prime minister of Israel since December 2022, having previously held the office from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021. He is the chairman of the Likud party. Netanyahu is the longest-tenured prime minister in the country's history, having served for a total of over 15 years. He is also the first prime minister to be born in Israel after its Declaration of Independence.Born in Tel Aviv to secular Jewish parents, Netanyahu was raised both in Jerusalem, and for a time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. He returned to Israel in 1967 to join the Israel Defense Forces. He became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces and took part in several missions, achieving the rank of captain before being honorably discharged. After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Netanyahu became an economic consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. He moved back to Israel in 1978 to found the Yonatan Netanyahu Anti-Terror Institute. From 1984–1988, Netanyahu was Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. Netanyahu rose to prominence after being elected as the chairman of Likud in 1993, becoming Leader of the Opposition. In the 1996 election, Netanyahu beat Shimon Peres, becoming the first Israeli prime minister elected directly by popular vote, and its youngest-ever. Netanyahu and Likud were heavily defeated in the 1999 election by Ehud Barak's One Israel party; and Netanyahu chose to retire from politics entirely, entering the private sector. Netanyahu later returned to politics, and served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance under Ariel Sharon. During the latter position, he initiated reforms of the Israeli economy that led to significant growth, before ultimately resigning over disagreements regarding the Gaza disengagement plan. Netanyahu returned to the leadership of Likud in December 2005 after Sharon stepped down to form a new party, Kadima. He was the Leader of the Opposition from 2006 to 2009. After the 2009 election, Netanyahu formed a coalition government with other right-wing parties and was sworn in as prime minister for a second time. He went on to lead Likud to victory in the 2013 and 2015 elections. A period of political deadlock ensued after three consecutive elections in 2019 and 2020 failed to produce a government, which was solved after a coalition rotation agreement was reached between Netanyahu and centrist Blue and White alliance's Benny Gantz. The coalition collapsed In December 2020, before the rotation could take place, and a new election was held in March 2021. In his penultimate government, Netanyahu led Israel's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis. In June 2021, after Naftali Bennett formed a government with Yair Lapid, Netanyahu was removed from the premiership, becoming opposition leader for the third time, before returning as Prime Minister again after the 2022 election. Netanyahu made his closeness to Donald Trump, a personal friend since the 1980s, central to his political appeal in Israel from 2016. During Trump's presidency, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and brokered the Abraham Accords, a series of normalization agreements between Israel and various Arab states. Netanyahu has faced international criticism over his decades-long policy as prime minister of expanding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, deemed illegal under international law. In 2019, Netanyahu was indicted on charges of breach of trust, bribery and fraud, following a three year investigation, due to which he relinquished all his ministry posts other than the prime minister position.
Pantheon has 117 people classified as politicians born between 2400 BC and 1978. Of these 117, 44 (37.61%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Mahmoud Abbas, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Reuven Rivlin. The most famous deceased politicians include Herod the Great, Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, and Ariel Sharon. As of April 2022, 8 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Esther Hayut, Avraham Burg, and Merav Michaeli.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 23 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.