David Landau Was ‘A Journalist Who Could Not Be Directed From Above,’ Says Rivlin

Israel's president calls him ‘an uncompromising friend and equally uncompromising ideological adversary.’

Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev
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David Landau
David Landau
Chemi Shalev
Chemi Shalev

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin described journalist David Landau, who died Tuesday at 67, as “an uncompromising friend and an equally uncompromising adversary: it was a pleasure to be his friend and it was a privilege to be his ideological adversary.”

Rivlin, who heard about Landau’s death in the morning at his hotel in New York, said, “Landau was a journalist who did not hesitate to speak his mind, a reporter who called events only as he saw them, one who could not be ordered or directed from above. This is me, he would tell his employers, take me as I am or don’t take me at all.”

Rivlin also spoke of Landau’s tenure as editor-in-chief of Haaretz, saying that he was “one of the more important editors of a newspaper that had great influence on Israeli decision makers, whether they read it in the morning and were convinced by its positions or whether they read it in the morning so they could say the exact opposite.”

Rivlin, who knew Landau for many years because of the latter’s journalistic work and also because of his son Dan Landau’s work at Rivlin’s side in the Knesset, said that while some people on the right may have described Landau as a post-Zionist, he was, in fact, “a distinguished Zionist, because he carried out Zionism’s most exalted injunction – to come and live in the Land of Israel.”

Rivlin said Landau adhered to his “so-called leftist positions” which “openly defied Israel’s right wing.” Landau didn’t suffer fools lightly and he abhorred naiveté, Rivlin added, “because he believed that the challenges awaiting Israel are so profound that there was no room for equivocation or compromise.”

Rivlin said it was always a pleasure to debate the issues of the day with him, “despite his formidable intellect, which always put you on the defensive and even forced you to find justifications for your own positions.” But Landau, he added, “admired and respected people who stuck to their own positions, as he did.”

Rivlin said Landau remained “knowledgeable at the highest level” till his very last days. “Even when he found out that he was terminally ill,” Rivlin said, “he confronted death as would confront his adversaries, unflinchingly, with no hesitation, with harsh and unequivocal utterances that were often heroic.

“To understand the significance of your death while you are still alive is something that only the truly illustrious can do,” Rivlin said, “and David was one of the most illustrious of all.”

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