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Jewish National Leaders:

Which Prime Ministers / Presidents / dictators of countries other than Israel have been Jewish, either by religion or by birth, and either wholly or partly? Benjamin Disraeli is an obvious example; Leon Blum, French Prime Minister in the 1930s, is another example. Lenin is said to have a Jewish grandfather or great-grandfather who had converted to Christianity; I'm not sure how well-attested this is, but I thought it's worth noting it. (I know some anti-Semites have made much of it, but while I can't be positive whether it's right, I'm quite sure it's not only an anti-Semitic canard; a quick LEXIS search revealed a Jerusalem Post article that quotes this offhandedly.) I'm posting a likely more surprising item as the first comment.

But what others? Remember, I'm looking only for the Prime Ministers, Presidents, or dictators, not lower-rank government officials or failed contenders (e.g., Barry Goldwater). As you might gather from the reference to Lenin (or for that matter, Blum, who was a Socialist), the question isn't a matter of ethnic pride, just curiosity.

UPDATE: Mark Kleiman points out that Blum, though a Socialist, "was also the leader of the forces in France that wanted to oppose the Nazis. (See the first volume of Churchill's Second World War.) Politically, he was a failure, but morally he was a hero." I'm happy to defer to Mark's greater knowledge of the subject; I knew that Blum was an anti-fascist Popular Front leader, but hadn't known that he had distinguished himself enough in that capacity to get much credit. If Blum had shown particular courage, skill, or perspicacity in that context, I'm happy to give him plenty of credit for it (though I'm still not sure that I'd on balance derive ethnic pride, if I was prone to such things, from his being a fellow Jew).

Eugene Volokh (www):
Janet Rosenberg Jagan, Prime Minister of Guyana in the late 1990s.
1.4.2006 2:16pm
Chris Farris (mail) (www):
I thought I read somewhere that Germany's chancellor from 1932-1945 was 1/4 or 1/8 Jewish from his mother's side.

Wikipedia doesn't think much of that rumor.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler
1.4.2006 2:20pm
Gordon (mail):
Trotsky probably doesn't count, since I don't think he ever rose to a high enough rank before he fell.
1.4.2006 2:27pm
jahoulih:
Bruno Kreisky, Chancellor of Austria.
1.4.2006 2:30pm
Evelyn Blaine:
Bruno Kreisky, Austrian chancellor (head of government), 1970-83:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Kreisky
1.4.2006 2:31pm
Jeremy Suttenberg (mail):
I know you mentioned you only wanted heads of state, but Germany's popular foreign minister in the early 1920s, Walter Rathenau, was Jewish, and he may have ultimately become Chancellor if he wasn't assassinated in 1922.

Coincidentally enough, Rathenau's sucessor as foreign minister, Gustave Stressemann, was married to the daughter of a Jewish Berlin businessman.
1.4.2006 2:31pm
Evelyn Blaine:
I see that jahoulih beat me to it by a matter of seconds.
1.4.2006 2:32pm
jahoulih:
That's what you get, Evelyn, for bothering to put in the dates and the link!
1.4.2006 2:33pm
Gordon (mail):
According to this list:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_French_Jews

There have been several French Jewish Prime Ministers.

Pierre Mendes-France, one of the more famous politicians of the Fourth Republic.
Rene Mayer, also a Fourth Republic Prime Minister.
In the Fourth Republic the President was a figurehead, so the Prime Minister was the actual leader of the nation.

In the Fifth Republic, Michel Debre and Laurent Fabius are half-Jewish, but the Prime Minister since 1958 has been subordinate to Presidential power.
1.4.2006 2:35pm
DAWeinstein (mail):
Pierre Mendes-France was Jewish, and Prime Minister of France from 1954-55. And do all the leaders of the Khazar kingdom count?
1.4.2006 2:40pm
DR:
All these citations to Wikipedia! According to the Wikipedia, Abraham Lincoln was, like, a total Jew. (Give me a minute to update it...)
1.4.2006 2:43pm
Ted Frank (www):
Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz said that his mother thought that Lincoln was a Jew because he was named Abraham, he freed the slaves, and was shot in the temple.
1.4.2006 2:47pm
Dionysius (mail):
The first Jewish premier of France was Leon Blum in 1936 (Sociaslist)
1.4.2006 2:47pm
GMUSL 2L (mail):
France's Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, is an Eastern European-born Jew. I think he's still the favorite to succeed chIRAQ.

The previous UK Conservative party leader, Michael Howard, was Jewish as well.

These probably aren't high up enough for you.
1.4.2006 2:51pm
Been There, Done That:
Can't believe nobody's mentioned:

David Ben Gurion
Menachem Begin
Golda Meir
Yitzhak Rabin
Ariel Sharon

etc.
1.4.2006 2:56pm
Been There, Done That:
Nevermind, see that "other than israel," my bad.
1.4.2006 2:59pm
Jeremy Suttenberg (mail):
You mentioned Leon Blum in your original post, and an interesting sidenote to his historical career is that his French political enemies came up with the slogan of "Better Hitler than Blum" to protest his popular front government. He had a very interesting career, and remarkably returned to policial power after being held in various concentration camps throughout world war II.

1.4.2006 2:59pm
Riccardo (mail) (www):
Judah P. Benjamin, the confederate minister of War
1.4.2006 3:17pm
Richard Bellamy (mail):
Joshua Abraham Norton, aka Emperor Norton I.
1.4.2006 3:29pm
Mr. T.:
I once read that Francisco Franco was part Jewish, which contributed to his declining to join the Axis. Quick google search does not provide verification of this, though.
1.4.2006 3:37pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Why does Disraeli count? Weren't his parents converted to Christianity before his birth?
1.4.2006 3:37pm
Pius XXX:
The son (I forget his name) of Esther and Ahasuerus (frequently identified as Xerxes I) was a Jewish emperor of Persia. That is, of course, if one does not dispute the historicity of the Book of Esther.
1.4.2006 3:38pm
Curious:

...Jewish, either by religion or by birth, and either wholly or partly...

Here's an honest off-topic question, what is a good definition of what it means to be Jewish? It seems to encompass more than religion, since I've heard the term unobservant/atheist Jew. And it is more than ethnicity, since just the other day Ethopian Jews were mentioned on the Conspiracy. Maybe it could be a self-identification with certain cultural values (examples would be nice), but this notion would seem to preclude the likes of Lenin. Here's some related questions. Is it possible to be an ex-Jew? An uncircumcised Jew?

Thoughts?
1.4.2006 3:40pm
Yan Leychkis (mail):
Panama is the only country outside of Israel to have had two Jewish Presidents in the 20th century. In the 60s, Max Delvalle was first Vice President and then President of the Republic. He is known for his famous inaugural speech in which he said: “Today there are two Jewish Presidents in the world — the President of the State of Israel and I.” His nephew Eric Arturo Delvalle was President from 1985-1988.

Ricardo Maduro, the current president of Honduras, has a Jewish father. However, he was married in a church and isn't known to be a practicing jew.
1.4.2006 3:41pm
Pius XXX:
Solomon Passy was the foregin minister of Bulgaria from 2001 through 2005. Not PM, but close enough, and he was quite visible in his position.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_Passy
1.4.2006 3:45pm
Pius XXX:
And, of course, quite prominently, Mikhail Fradkov is the current Prime Minister of Russia, though it appears that only his father is/was Jewish. Does anyone have a source for this?
1.4.2006 3:50pm
Yan Leychkis (mail):
That is correct. Here's the source on Fradkov:

http://www.ncsj.org/AuxPages/030104Fradkov.shtml
1.4.2006 3:53pm
Peter Metcalfe (mail):
Sir Julius Vogel (Premier of New Zealand 1873-75 &1876).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Vogel
1.4.2006 3:57pm
John Lederer (mail):
Judah Benjamin (fascinating character) is one I thought of, like Riccardo, but then rejected because only Secretary of War and Secretary of State.

But..now that I think on it, I wonder if in the last days of the Confederacy with Davis and Stephens captured, perhaps he was President if only briefly...

If so, he went on to better things, becoming a law professor and writing a very well regarded treatise on Personal Property.
1.4.2006 3:58pm
Tom R:
(1) Poland has, or recently had, a Jewish foreign minister but I forget his name. I think Anne Applebaum mentioned it in Slate, 2 or 3 years ago. Sorry but my current internet connection is dodgy and will collapse if I open a new window.

(2) Dunno if "Presidents" means only Presidents with that title, or executive-leader Presidents, but if it includes ceremonial heads of state analogous to a President, then Australia has had two Jewish (AFAIK, observant) Governors-General -- Sir Isaac Isaacs in the 1930s and Sir Zelman Cowen 1977-82. However this is not an elected position (not even indirectly, like Prime Minister) so if EuVol's hidden agenda here is to compile a footnote saying "Largely gentile electorates can, and do, elect Jews to the top job[s]", then Isaacs and Cowen wouldn't count.
1.4.2006 4:04pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
Max Jakobson, of Finland, was a leading candidate to succeed U Thant as Secretary General of the United Nations in 1972. He did not get the job, and later attributed his rejection to anti-Semitism. Instead, Kurt Waldheim was selected, and we all know how that worked out.
1.4.2006 4:19pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Being reported Sharon's condition is Significant Stroke, suffering from paralysis
1.4.2006 4:43pm
Dionysius (mail):
Curious asked what it means to be a Jew; whether Jewishness is a religious or a tribal concept. Can one be a half-Jew? Many years ago the question was posed in Israel in this form: Can a person who converted to Christianity be admitted to Israel under the "Law of Return"? I think the case was "Brother Daniel" and the decision was that Brother Daniel had left the tribe by converting to Catholicism. This, even though Brother Daniel was the son of a Jewish mother. I wonder what the status of a person, born of a Jewish mother but a declared atheist would be? After all, being a Jew means having a particular relationship with the god of Israel, doesn't it?

The Nazis, to the contrary, decided that anyone with "Jewish Blood" was a Jew, no matter what that person's religion was.
1.4.2006 4:58pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Wasn't some Jewish dreamer named Joseph the Prime Minister of Egypt way back....

Yours,
Wince
1.4.2006 5:01pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I've heard that Yasser Arafat had some Jewish blood on him.
1.4.2006 5:15pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
The Nazis, to the contrary, decided that anyone with "Jewish Blood" was a Jew, no matter what that person's religion was.

Hey, I vote that the one definition we do NOT use is whatever the Nazis used.
1.4.2006 5:26pm
--:
Andropov may have been Jewish (at least on his mother's side) - saw this in a book, no link, but the rumor is mentioned, i.a., here.
1.4.2006 5:28pm
Jeff the Baptist (mail) (www):
Here's an honest off-topic question, what is a good definition of what it means to be Jewish?
Too bad there isn't a good answer to it. Generally, if you want to be labeled "jewish" you need to be (1) a full convert to Judaism or (2) of jewish descent and not a convert to Christianity or Islam. But there is no hard and fast rule, as as Benjamin Disraeli demonstrates.
1.4.2006 5:44pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
It's reported that Eamon de Valera, long-serving President of the Republic of Ireland, was half-Jewish.
1.4.2006 5:45pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I suppose it's whether you claim it, as Disraeli so memorably did:

Yes, I am a Jew and when the ancestors of the right honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.

Not quite so classic as Gibbon's description of pre-Roman Britain as

gloomy hills assailed by the winter tempest, ... lakes concealed in a blue mist, and ... cold and lonely heaths, over which the deer of the forest were chased by a troop of naked barbarians

but then, Dizzy was thinking on his feet.
1.4.2006 6:00pm
Sherry (mail):
My Great-Uncle, Moses Van Buren, was the descendant of the Grandfather of US President Martin Van Buren. The family was originally Jewish, but the son who became the Grandfather of Martin Van Buren had converted to Judaism. So I guess Martin Van Buren was partially Jewish.
1.4.2006 6:11pm
nothingwitty (mail):
David Marshall was Singapore's First Chief Minister. It was pre-independence though so he may not meet your standard. Fascinating guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Saul_Marshall
1.4.2006 6:19pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
HOWARD STERN RULES!!!! (1/2 jewish)
1.4.2006 6:24pm
Seamus (mail):

The Nazis, to the contrary, decided that anyone with "Jewish Blood" was a Jew, no matter what that person's religion was.



No, you are confusing the German Nuremberg laws with the "one-drop rule" in the Southern U.S., under which any person with any discernable sub-Saharan African ancestry was deemed to be "colored." Under the the Nuremberg laws, on the other hand, you were a Jew if you had three Jewish grandparents (i.e., grandparents who were members of the Jewish religious community), or if you had two Jewish grandparents and were yourself a member of the Jewish religious community, were married to a Jew, were the issue of a marriage contracted with a Jew after September 15, 1935, or were the illegitimate offspring of a Jew after July 31, 1936.

If you had only two Jewish grandparents, you were a first-degree "Mischling," and if you had only one Jewish grandparent, you were a second-degree Mischling.
1.4.2006 6:29pm
nothingwitty (mail):
Rufus Daniel Issacs, Marquess of Reading, was the viceroy of India 1921-26.

Herb Gray was Deputy Prime Minister of Canada 1997-2002.
1.4.2006 7:00pm
scepticalrepub:
Seamus is correct about the mischling loophole, since Jesus was only 1/2 Jewish Hitler gave him a pass.
1.4.2006 7:18pm
jahoulih:
There were a number of Jewish viziers in the medieval Islamic world: e.g., Samuel ha-Nagid, vizier of Granada, in the 11th century.

http://isfsp.org/sages/nagrela.html
1.4.2006 8:01pm
Steve Rosenbach (www):
I can't think of anyone else at the moment, but I'd like to point out that from 1983-1993, Israel's President was an Irishman (Chaim Herzog, born in Belfast and raised in Dublin.)
1.4.2006 8:02pm
Syd (mail):
As DAWeinstein pointed out, the leaders of the Khazar kingdom converted to Judaism. Also, in the 6th century, Dhu Nuwas, the leader of the Himyarite kingdom in Yemen, converted to Judaism.
1.4.2006 8:12pm
Leah Guildenstern (www):
Esther's son was Darius.

According to Jewish Law someone who's mother is Jewish (or who has converted) is Jewish. So it is biological but not "race" per say as it only require matralinal descent (or can be conversion.) But it isn't just faith as whether or not they believe or practice Judaism they are still Jewish - thus Bu-Jew's and Hind-Jews etc.

Of course many people use the "any jewish blood" definition anyway.
1.4.2006 8:15pm
djbudapest:
The father of Bela Kun, leader of the Hungarian communist state in 1918-1919 was a lapsed Jew. The four core leaders of the Hungarian Communist party directly after the second world war were also Jewish. Although Jews in Hungary have been and continue to be associated with every party or political direction, these particular associations are very much a part of contemporary Hungarian anti-Semitism. Indeed, in some nationalist political discourse "communist", "socialist", "leftist", "liberal" and "cosmopolitan" are all used as codes for "Jewish".
1.4.2006 8:46pm
Robert F. Patterson (mail):
Shortly after 9/11, a "friend" of mine, who is a Catholic, but who has a friend who is also Catholic but very pro-Arab and, I think, very anti-Jewish (though he always says he is not anti-Jewish but only anti-Israel), sent me, as an attachment to his e-mail, a list of Jews who are in official positions in the U.S, in New York, and in local government.
I have never ceased to seek from him why he sent me such a list. I question even why such a list exists. And so I question why even this blog is dwelling on that question, even if it is limited to heads of state and heads of government.
I don't know of lists of what Mormons are in similar positions, or lists of Episcopalians, or lists of Scientologists, etc., etc.
I thought that there was separation of Church and State, or some pretense at this especially when a Believer makes known his moral stance on any public question. But that is another question.
Why is there so much interest in what Jews have had or still have political power? Isn't there, in the very asking, the impression that undue or biased influence is exercised by the person cited?
1.4.2006 9:16pm
Chris Farris (mail) (www):
Besides St. Peter, were any of the Popes Jewish? As head of state of the Vatican (when did it officialy become its own state?) they would qualify.
1.4.2006 9:16pm
Jewish by Birth, Religious by Choice:
I'm surprised EV hasn't asked us which heads of state are/have been atheists...
1.4.2006 9:36pm
Rami (mail):
Job Cohen, the Mayor of Amsterdam, was the candidate of the Dutch Labor Party (PvdA) for Prime Minister in 2003 and was narrowly defeated.

Italy might well be historically the most fertile ground for Jews in general politics, despite the very small number of Jews in the Italian population and the dominance of the Catholic Church. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Italy boasted a number of prominent Jewish politicans (especially in Piedmont) and generals (including an Italian Chief of Staff). In 1910, Luigi Luzzato (from a famous Italian Jewish family) was Prime Minister of Italy. Jews were also very active in the development of Facism (I use this term solely in its Italian context). To wit, Mussolini's long-time mistress (and arguably brain) was a Jewess, Margherita Sarfatti. Mussolini made sure Sarfatti was on a boat safe to South America before the Germans rolled in.

To go way out on the conspiracy theory edge: there are stories that Kemal Ataturk was from a unusual Jewish sect called the Donmeh (literally converts--from the same root in Turkish as donerkebab, what we commonly call gyros). The Donmeh were followers of Shabbatai Zvi who converted outwardly to Islam but secretly kept some Jewish traditions. The Donmeh were centered in Salonika (itself a majority Jewish city in a Muslim-ruled empire). Salonika was the cradle of the Young Turk movement and the birthplace of Ataturk, I believe. A number of the founding circle of Young Turks were from Donmeh families, and it would be not be inconceivable if Ataturk was too. I have heard apocryphal stories that when drunk Ataturk would start to recite the kiddush.
1.4.2006 9:39pm
David Hecht (mail):
Well, I could have sworn that Paul-Henri Spaak (four times Prime Minister of Belgium, chairman of ECOSOC, and SECGEN of NATO, among many accomplishments) was Jewish, but I cannot find a shred of evidence to back that recollection up.

As I see that several others have already mentioned Pierre Mendes-France, I won't belabor the point.
1.4.2006 9:40pm
Rami (mail):
For what it's worth, a Syrian graduate student (now working in the Syrian foreign ministry) once insisted to me that Harry S Truman was Jewish, if only because it was his administration that recognized the State of Israel (although the USSR did it first, and no one would claim Stalin was a Jew).

Also, if we want to go real far back, the chief minister at one point under Ferdinand and Isabella was a Don Avraham Senor. Senor, who played a major role in facilitating the royal's unusual love-match converted at some point around 1492.
1.4.2006 9:46pm
Ubertrout (mail) (www):
Just FYI, Disraeli was born Jewish. The family converted when he was 7 over a dispute with the synagogue (seems a bit extreme, I know).
1.4.2006 10:33pm
Bleepless (mail):
Parenthetically, the assassin of Rathenau, Count Arco-Valley, was Jewish. This created quite a problem for the Nazis and the rest of the kook-fringe Right.
1.4.2006 10:42pm
Anthony:
Chris Farris, the Vatican became a state in 1929, and I'm pretty sure they were down with Jewish popes by then.

Hitler's maternal grandmother became with child while single and working as a maid in a Jewish household. Short of finding the bones and doing a DNA test, that's about all we're ever going to know, but it adds a fascinating tidbit to Hitler's psychological pathology (or pathological psychology, depending on your point of view).

The two Australian Governors' General were indeed both appointed and Jewish (as was Gordon Samuels, governer of New South Wales in the 1990s) - but as the Governorships are within the fiat of a Premier/Prime Minister who faces popular election every 3 years, one can argue that, as a minimum, appointing a practicing Jew the the post certainly wasn't a negative.
1.4.2006 10:45pm
Evelyn Blaine:
Here's an article on Jewish Popes:

Cleveland Jewish News, 26 May 2005

Short version: the only pope (or, according to Catholic sources, antipope) known to be of Jewish descent after Peter was Anacletus II, 1130-1138. Two earlier ones were possibly part-Jewish (Gregory VI, 1045, and Gregory VII, 1073-1084).

Figuring out when the temporal sovereignty of the Papal States began depends a lot on one's interpretation of just how much independence is needed to be a sovereign state, but one could at least plausibly start counting with the Donation of Pepin in 756.

So the upshot: at least one, and possibly as many as three, part-Jewish sovereigns in Western Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
1.4.2006 10:51pm
Neuro-conservative (mail) (www):
I don't think an uncircumcised male (at least of majority age) can be properly considered a Jew. As far as I am aware, the brit milah is considered the single most important mitzvah.

Genesis 17:13-14

17:13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
1.5.2006 12:05am
Neuro-conservative (mail) (www):
By the way, I know at least one Israeli who considers George W Bush to be the first Jewish president, in the same sense that Bill Clinton was known as the "first black president."
1.5.2006 12:07am
nothingwitty (mail):
Neuro-conservative-

First, there are a number of sins the violation of which the Old Testament says is punished with "cutting off". This is simply excommunication- what the Jewish community did to Spinoza, for example. This does not mean that the violator is no longer a "Jew"; if it did then all those Jews who masterbate (an offense punishable by "cutting off") would no longer be Jewish.

Second, Judiasm has probably survived as long as it has in part becase "Jewishness" is conceived of by the OT and perceived by Jews to be an ethnicity and not just a religion. Pretty slick move (or divine if thats your persuasion...)

Also, there is no punishment mandated by the OT for one who is inadequately educated. Most modern Rabbis have considered those who grow up without Jewish communities, leaders, and educators, not culpable for the OT commandments that they fail to fulfill.
1.5.2006 2:17am
JB:
Why the first? I can see why his support of Israel might lead an Israeli to consider him a "jewish" president, but why not Truman, then, who recognized the country in the first place?
1.5.2006 2:18am
Adam (mail):
On the whole "who is a Jew":

Judaism is both an ethnic people and a religion, and it's hard to completely separate the two. Most Jews consider them to be a part of the Jewish people, and the Jewish religion considers the Jews to be an ethnic people, and not just a group sharing religious beliefs. An ethnic people is different from a race, as Jews come from all kinds of races (European Ashkenazim, Middle-Eastern Mizrahim, Yemenites, Ethiopians, Indians, etc.), but there is still an ethnic commonality. Because of the ethnic component, people can often be considered Jewish even if their family converted from Judaism before they were born.

The definition according to Orthodox Jewish law is anyone who is born to a Jewish mother or who converts according to Orthodox law, and once a Jew, always a Jew, so if a Jew, whether born Jewish or converted, converts to another religion and later decides to come back to Judaism, there is no need to "reconvert".

Conversions done by non-Orthodox branches of Judaism are generally not recognized by the Orthodox, but are recognized by all the other branches.

According to Jewish law, there is no such thing as a half Jew (or any other fraction). One is either completely Jewish or completely non-Jewish. Nevertheless, people are often considered half Jewish (etc.) for purposes of ethnic classification, if they have partial Jewish ancestry.

The Israeli Law of Return recognizes as Jewish anyone with a Jewish grandparent (based on the Nuremberg laws, since if the Nazis would have persecuted you, you deserve a safe haven in Israel) and who has not converted to a different religion, so it differs from the strict definition of religious law. The legal definition for the Law of Return upsets many religious people in Israel, because a large number of recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union are not halachically Jewish (Halacha is Jewish religious law).

Jewishness (according to the religious law) is not dependent on observance of any commandment, so a Jew is Jewish even if he is not circumcised (though of course circumcision is still considered an extremely important commandment).
1.5.2006 2:44am
AlexM:
Lenin's ancestry is well documented on the German/Swedish side, but somewhat nebulous on the Jewish and Kalmyk sides. Anyway, as near as we can tell, only one of his grandparents was Jewish.

Also, Lenin was the head of the Soviet government in November 1917-January 1924. The first head of the Soviet state was Lev Kamenev (November 1917), whose father was Jewish, but who was technically Russian Orthodox. After Kamenev's resignation over a policy dispute with Lenin and Trotsky, the head of the Soviet state was Yakov Sverdlov (1917-1919), who was of Jewish extraction.

Leon Trotsky doesn't make the cut since he was not a head of state or government. Other top Communist leaders of Jewish descent included Rudolf Slánský, General Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1946-1951 (executed in 1952), but not a head of state/government.

In the 1990s, two of Yeltsin's prime ministers, Yegor Gaidar (1992) and Sergei Kirienko (1998), were "part Jewish". Yevgeny Primakov's (another Russian prime minister under Yeltsin in 1998-1999) ethno-cultural roots are in dispute. Petre Roman's (one of Romania's post-Communist prime ministers) father was Jewish.
1.5.2006 9:59am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Thanks, Ubertrout.

As for this:
No, you are confusing the German Nuremberg laws with the "one-drop rule" in the Southern U.S., under which any person with any discernable sub-Saharan African ancestry was deemed to be "colored."
Great: "the Nazis---more tolerant than Southern whites!" Puts it all in perspective, don't it? (Except for the death camps of course. Though I confess, seeing "plantation tours" here, I imagine Dachau with an antebellum mansion.)
1.5.2006 10:12am
Taimyoboi:
Depending on how the "who is Jewish" question is resolved, there is this:

Pope John Paul II
1.5.2006 10:12am
Milhouse (www):
Malcolm Fraser (Australian PM 1975-83) had one Jewish grandfather.
1.5.2006 12:35pm
Milhouse (www):
Australia's two Jewish Governors General (which counts as Head of State) were both significant appointments.

Sir Isaac Isaacs (1931-36) was the first Australian to become Governor General of Australia. (All his predecessors had been British, and the question of whether GGs should be British or Australian was controversial until the 1960s.)

Sir Zelman Cowen (1977-82) was appointed to heal the damage done to the office of GG by the the consitutional crisis of 1975.

In the "couldabeen dictator" category, in the 1930s there was a fascist plot to overthrow the government and install a dictator, who would fix the country like that clever chap Mussolini was doing over there in Italy. The plotters needed a popular figure, a war hero, who would gain the nation's trust and adulation, to lead their movement and become the dictator. So they turned to Sir John Monash, a Jew! Monash turned them down, and that was pretty much the end of their plot.
1.5.2006 1:02pm
Milhouse (www):
Disraeli was converted at the age of 13. His father had a financial dispute with the snoga at Bevis Marks, and was barred from all honours until he paid up what the snoga claimed he owed. When the snoga refused to have young Benjamin's bar mitzvah celebrated, his father threatened to take him to the priest and have him converted; the snoga board was unmoved, and the father carried out his threat.
1.5.2006 1:06pm
microtherion:
Ruth Dreifuss was the first Jewish member of the Swiss Federal Council and in 1999 was the first woman to serve as President of Switzerland (The presidency rotates annually).
1.5.2006 3:10pm
Anomolous:
Joseph (the coat of many colors guy) seemed to have pretty broad executive powers within the Egyptian kingdom.
1.5.2006 4:10pm
cac (mail):
Re Sir Isaac Isaacs being appointed as Governor General of Australia in the 1930s, what non Australian reader may not know is that it was a particularly controversial appointment at the time. Not because Isaacs was a Jew but because he was Australian. The King wanted to appoint Lord Birwood who had commanded the ANZACs at Gallipolli and had to be forcefully reminded that the monarch must act on the advice of his PM. He acquiesed grudgingly and got his own back by announcing that he had appointed Isaacs rather than the usual form of "being pleased to appoint."
1.6.2006 3:55am