PASSINGS: Shulamit Aloni, Billy Ross

Shulamit Aloni, Yitzhak Rabin
Shulamit Aloni, right, in 1993 with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; Aloni, who championed civil rights and criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, died Friday.
(Associated Press)

Shulamit Aloni

Israeli champion of civil rights

Shulamit Aloni, an Israeli legislator who championed civil rights and was fiercely critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, died Friday at her home in a Tel Aviv suburb. Meretz, the party she helped found and led, announced her death in a statement but did not reveal the cause.

She was widely reported to be 85, but her son Nimrod told the New York Times that she was 86 and born in Tel Aviv in 1927.


Aloni fought in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation; and after winning a seat in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in 1965, she served for 28 years and held a number of cabinet posts.

An audacious speaker and one of few women to openly challenge the nation’s rabbis, Aloni fought for civil liberties, women’s rights and a separation of church and state. But her boisterous crusade for secular rights was perceived as offensive by some ultra-Orthodox.

She irritated religious Israelis by being photographed at an Arab restaurant with a breadbasket during Passover, when observant Jews don’t eat bread.

She created the Citizens’ Rights Movement, or Ratz, in 1973, with the primary goal of ridding Israel of Orthodox rabbis’ monopoly over marriage and divorce.


The party later took up peace issues and the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Aloni became a loud dissenting voice in the governments she served in, often criticizing new settlement construction in territories she believed should be reserved for a future Palestinian state. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

She helped found Meretz in 1991, winning the party 12 seats in the 1992 elections and leading it into Israel’s governing coalition, which, with the ruling Labor party, made strides toward Mideast peace. She stepped down in 1996.

Aloni was recognized for her devotion to civil liberties in 2000, when she was awarded the Israel Prize, the country’s highest distinction.

Billy Ross

Survivor of plane crash that killed 16 Cal Poly teammates

Billy Ross, 78, a survivor of the 1960 plane crash that killed 16 members of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football team, died Monday in Bakersfield, the university announced. The cause was not released.

Ross was an offensive lineman on the 1959 and 1960 Mustang football teams. He was 25 when the team’s flight crashed at the Toledo, Ohio, airport on Oct. 29, 1960. Sixteen teammates and six others were killed in the crash shortly after takeoff in foggy weather.

Ross suffered severe burns and spent seven months in a Toledo-area hospital for skin grafts and rehabilitation. The 26 survivors of the crash included Ross’ teammate Ted Tollner, a quarterback who later became head football coach at USC.


Ross returned to his studies at Cal Poly but did not rejoin the football team. After graduating with a degree in physical education in 1963, he became a high school teacher and football coach in the San Joaquin Valley until severe foot pain from crash injuries forced him out of coaching.

Times staff and wire

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