Former Haaretz Editor-in-chief David Landau Laid to Rest

Hundreds attend Jerusalem funeral of former Haaretz editor; 'You were like a roaring lion,' his daughter, Chani, says in her eulogy.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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David Landau laid to rest in Har Hamenuchot cemetery, Jerusalem, January 28, 2015.
David Landau laid to rest in Har Hamenuchot cemetery, Jerusalem, January 28, 2015.Credit: Emil Salman
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

Former Haaretz editor-in-chief David Landau was laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery on Wednesday at a funeral attended by several hundred people. The 67-year-old veteran British-Israeli journalist died of cancer on Tuesday.

The mourners came from the diverse worlds that Landau occupied – secular people from Tel Aviv, Hasidim from Jerusalem, middle-aged English speakers alongside Hebrew-speaking journalists, politicians and young people.

Landau’s daughter, Chani Landau-Phillips, spoke about these contradictions in her eulogy. “After you came back to life almost two years ago and after your body recovered, we strolled in your beloved Tel Aviv and talked. I told you of the miracle experience we had undergone, about how in a few tumultuous days we became a closer-knit family than ever before, that we’d prayed for you and you came back. You looked at me and immediately dismissed what I said, saying: ‘That’s not my story.’

“And again, like almost every time we talked, you surprised me. In a moment you turned everything upside down as only you knew how, and forced me to look at things in a different, more complicated light. You didn’t hesitate or flinch from complexity – in your statements, your faith, your values and your identity. We, who were raised by you, never asked ourselves if these were contradictions. A secular Zionist, a religious Jew, a Jewish Briton, a historian and a journalist, a chubby man who excels in sports, or one who sings out of tune and loves music. A leader or a hermit.”

Landau’s son Dan said: “About a month ago, when my father started sinking into the twilight of consciousness, one of the caretakers entered his room in the Misgav Ladach hospital. My father seemed asleep and the caretaker turned to me and said, ‘he’s relatively young, isn’t he?’ Suddenly my father awoke, opened one eye and said, ‘relatively to what?’ and immediately sank back. The caretaker was very embarrassed, apologized and hurried out of the room. But my father’s words continued to echo in the room On first, superficial hearing, I seemed to hear the echo of a complaint, even criticism. But as his words resonated in the room, I could distinguish in them a different sound; hesitant at first, perhaps because of the sorrow over the known, inevitable, frightening ending. But a sound carrying a totally different message – a message of acceptance and reconciliation, of closure, of recognizing the value of every day, of awareness – even pride – in a life full of action and meaning.”

Landau’s brother, Pinchas, said: “You went through the entire physical and geographical Jewish world, from Birobidzhan on the eastern edge of the world to the United States’ West Coast and the Jewish communities in the vast expanses of Argentina in the south. You spoke to the Jews in English, Hebrew or Yiddish, and everywhere you went you were impressed and left an impression, you learned and left a mark. So it was with nations and especially the kings of nations, from the late [Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat [Landau was the first Israeli journalist to interview him], whom you blessed in God’s name to Prince Charles, may he live long, whom you criticized, with respect and honesty [Landau criticized the British monarchy for not sending a representative to visit Israel since its establishment]. Everyone – kings and ministers, rabbis, fellow journalists throughout the world – respected and honored you. Everyone knew your motives and goals were sincere and genuine, not stemming from ulterior motives but based in sacred plinths.”

“We loved him because he stretched us, like no one else,” said Haaretz English Edition Editor, Charlotte Hallé.

“He made us want to do better, to make a better newspaper. ‘Don’t overplay a story,’ he would tell us. ‘let him defend himself at the top of the article and not at the bottom; if you don’t understand it, how can you expect the reader to?; away with this pretensions – they do not reside there, they live there. He did not opine, he said it; you know nothing until you’ve door-stepped a minister after 11:30 at night.’”

“And there were the occasional compliments, the highest of which was, ‘Jackie thought that was a good piece,’” Halle said.

At the end of her eulogy, Landau’s daughter, Chani, mentioned another contradiction in Landau’s personality – the contrast between the temperamental journalist and strict editor and the quiet Jerusalem family man. “You were like a roaring lion then returning to Jackie [his wife], to the den on Tel Hai street. And again you went to battle for the truth, then turned it all off for a quiet Sabbath with Jackie at home Go in peace, rest in peace, entrust in our hands your work to bring peace, may it come soon.”

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