From Tunis to Lebanon, via Paris and Iraq
Dan Semama, reporter, editor and Channel 1 news anchor died yesterday at 61 after a long illness. In choosing a career in journalism, Semama, who was born in Tunis, followed in the footsteps of his father, Andre Semama, who wrote for Le Monde.
After his military service and a stint studying television in Paris, Semama started out in 1972 as the police reporter for Israel Television, eventually moving into military journalism. During the first Lebanon war, he raised then-defense minister Ariel Sharon's hackles when he showed footage of soldiers singing a parody of a well-known children's song about an airplane, substituting lyrics that spoke of returning from the war in a coffin and mentioning Sharon. Semama also served as a Knesset correspondent, a political correspondent, an aliyah correspondent and an anchor on the weekly news program "Yoman."
In the mid-1980s Semama left television for two years to serve as a Keren Hayessod emissary in Britain, but his childhood friend, Channel 1 head Mushon Matzliah, says Semama champed at the bit to get back to journalism.
In 2003 Semama entered Iraq secretly with reporter Boaz Bismuth to cover the first stages of the war, but the American forces kicked him out.
Semama was the editor of Channel 1's nightly news show "Mabat" until illness forced his early retirement in 2007. "He did things will all his heart, and the reporting bug kept him in television," Matzliah said yesterday.
"Danny believed in equality and social justice," Channel 1's Rafik Halabi said yesterday. "He also did not know the meaning of 'compromise.' When he felt he should go to Iraq to cover the war from there, he used his French passport and went. When he was thrown out, he said 'that's another place in the world I've been chucked out of,'" Halabi also said.
Semama's funeral is to take place today at 3 P.M. on Kibbutz Einat. He is survived by three daughters, two grandchildren and two sisters.