Jo Benkow (born Josef Elias Benkowitz; 15 August 1924 – 18 May 2013) was a Norwegian politician and writer, notable for being an important person in the Conservative Party of Norway, and the President of the Parliament 1985–1993. He was also President of the Nordic Council in 1983.
|President of the Storting|
9 October 1985 – 30 September 1993
|Prime Minister||Kåre Willoch |
Gro H. Brundtland
|Preceded by||Per Hysing-Dahl|
|Succeeded by||Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl|
|Conservative Parliamentary Leader|
1 October 1981 – 30 September 1985
|Prime Minister||Kåre Willoch|
|Preceded by||Kåre Willoch|
|Succeeded by||Jan P. Syse|
|Leader of the Conservative Party|
4 May 1980 – 26 August 1984
|Preceded by||Erling Norvik|
|Succeeded by||Erling Norvik|
|First Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party|
16 April 1978 – 4 May 1980
|Preceded by||Lars T. Platou|
|Succeeded by||Håkon Randal|
|Second Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party|
12 May 1974 – 16 April 1978
|Preceded by||Per Hysing-Dahl|
|Succeeded by||Astrid Gjertsen|
|Member of the Norwegian Parliament|
1 October 1965 – 30 September 1993
Josef Elias Benkowitz
15 August 1924
|Died||18 May 2013 (aged 88)|
He was born in Trondheim, Norway but moved to the municipality of Bærum outside Oslo as a child. As a member of the tiny Jewish minority of Norway, he experienced first-hand prejudice while growing up. In 1942, he fled persecution by the Nazis occupying Norway, into Sweden and subsequently the United Kingdom where he served in the Royal Norwegian Air Force. He returned after the war and took up photography as a trade.
In 1965 he was elected to the Parliament of Norway, representing the Conservative Party. In parliament he soon became a leading figure, as party leader 1980–84, group leader of the Conservative Party in parliament 1981–85 and most notably becoming President of the Storting (Speaker) on 9 October 1985, a position he held until his retirement on 30 September 1993, after 28 years in parliament.
Benkow served as president of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, taught international relations at Boston University, and has written books on human rights, modern monarchy in Norway, and other issues. His self-biography Fra Synagogen til Løvebakken (From the synagogue to Løvebakken; Løvebakken refers to a place outside the Parliament) published in 1985 sold 250,000 copies in Norway and earned him the Norwegian Booksellers' Prize. His book Olav – menneske og monark ("Olav – Man and Monarch"), a product of several conversations with his friend King Olav V, was a huge bestseller as well.
He was also a much sought-after lecturer on issues concerning the Middle East and Anti-Semitism. In recent years he managed to create some controversy when he criticized former prime minister and party colleague Kåre Willoch, calling him "the most biased person in the country," on account of Willoch's views on the Middle East and his criticism of Israeli politics.
Benkow died on 18 May 2013, at a hospital in Oslo, aged 88.
- Defence Medal 1940–1945
- Norwegian Booksellers' Prize, 1985
- Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, 1990
- Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria, 1996
- Knights of the Order of St. Olav, 1998
- Fra synagogen til Løvebakken (1985); From Synagogue to Parliament
- Folkevalgt (1988); Elected by the People
- Haakon, Maud og Olav. Et minnealbum i tekst og bilder (1989); Haakon, Maud and Olav. A Memorial Album of Text and Images
- Hundre år med konge og folk (1990); A Hundred Years with King and Nation
- Olav – menneske og monark (1991); Olav – Man and Monarch
- Det ellevte bud (1994, with afterword by Elie Wiesel); The Eleventh Commandment
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jo Benkow.|
| President of the Storting
Kirsti Kolle Grøndahl