Chaim Herzog Dead at 78

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JERUSALEM: Chaim Herzog, Israel's longest-serving president, died in Jerusalem at age 78. Herzog, who became Israel's sixth president in 1983, served in the largely ceremonial post for 10 years and was instrumental in helping shape the country's world image. "He was such a gentleman and a scholar, who had a sort of soothing impact which took a lot of the hard, sharp edges out of internal political debate," says TIME's Bruce Nelan. "He moderated the dialogue and helped people reach accommodations behind the scenes that they might not have otherwise been able to achieve." In addition to his presidential role, Herzog was a distinguished soldier, author and UN diplomat. In World War II, he landed on the beaches of Normandy as an officer in the British army, fought in the 1948 and 1967 wars and rose to become Israel's first chief of military intelligence. These experiences provided him with the fodder for several books on Israeli military history. Despite this, Nelan notes that Herzog's deep involvement in Israeli's armed forces did not prevent him from seeing the possibility of a reconciliation in the Middle East. "People will remember him not only as a warrior, but as a man who always spoke up in favor of peace."