Amnon Dankner, who passed away Friday at age 67, left behind a wife, two sons, five grandchildren – and many others mourning the passage of a great Israeli journalist, author and personality.
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During his career as one of Israel's most influential journalists, Dankner rubbed shoulders with the prestigious and powerful of the world, but he was known for his down-to-earth touch. He knew what made Israelis tick, and not just them, it would seem. He took the time to hand down wedding-day advice to Prince William and Kate Middleton – "a guide to being more Borgias than Brady Bunch."
In his deeply moving obituary of Tommy Lapid, "The Dream Fulfiller," Dankner could also have been writing about himself: "He wasn't just a journalist; he was a popular media star." And he taught many in the profession how less is more. "After his father was taken from him by the Gestapo before his very eyes, after his stable and bourgeois home was destroyed overnight, Tommy dreamed of building a home and having a family," Dankner wrote in Haaretz, telling a lifetime of agony in 33 words.
Just don't call him a shoe fetishist, said Dankner, writing in Haaretz about trying to recruit his old friend Ron Maiberg to Israel’s press – and about potentially conflicted interests in covering another old friend, the prime minister.
Okay, we won't call him a shoe fetishist, we'll just point out that Amnon Dankner had a lot of friends, including in high places. Did that create biases? If he had a declared one, it was towards Israel.
"Yes, I edited a more patriotic paper than others, and yes, I also rejected covers and interviews that were used by writers and editors with a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli agenda," he wrote in Haaretz about the right-wing bent he introduced to Maariv while serving as that paper's editor in chief. "That is exactly why I am the editor of Maariv and was not privileged to receive from [former PLO] chairman Arafat an appointment to be editor of the PLO mouthpiece." Did we mention he had the gift of clarity?
Amnon Dankner was indeed not one to mince words. "Again I need defense here against tight-assed self-righteousness," he wrote – yes, we're returning to that famous incident when he didn't kiss Ron Maiberg's shoes, but could have – "and must declare that I am a jester type, and sometimes a theatrical type, and even the gloomiest prudes will not succeed in robbing me of my joie de vivre or of my fondness for tricks."