David Landau Possessed a Rare Combination of Qualities

'Religious in depth, liberal in breadth' – thus the former president of Israel recalls the late David Landau, who worked with him on two books.

 Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
David Landau (foreground) in the press room during the Camp David talks near Washington, D.C., September 13, 1978.
David Landau (foreground) in the press room during the Camp David talks near Washington, D.C., September 13, 1978.Credit: David Rubinger/Courtesy of Yedioth Ahronoth
 Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres

David possessed three qualities, which taken together make for a rare human combination.

First, truth. He was not afraid of the truth. Truth in whatever form it took – cruel and trenchant, riveting and elevating – was his supreme consideration and the crux of his personality.

Second, precision. There was not an iota of carelessness in him. He sought accuracy in every fact, in all its dimensions, in order to arrive at a true picture. An accurate picture.

Third, he was learned, in Judaism and Western culture alike. And together with his deep and expansive knowledge, he was insistent in his opinions – you could argue with him, but you couldn’t persuade him unless he was genuinely persuaded.

He never let me off easy, and that is precisely why I chose him to work with me on both my memoir and on the political biography of David Ben-Gurion. With regard to Ben-Gurion, we had a disagreement concerning the Holocaust – whether Ben-Gurion grasped it correctly and in time. David had his doubts, I stood by my view, and the disagreement went into the book as it was.

It is a great joy to meet such an exceptional individual, one who shuns contrivance, does not try to avoid the issue or be evasive, and is not frightened by the truth.

He was a rare combination of an individual religious in depth and liberal in breadth. He possessed an extraordinary fusion: He practiced tikkun hatzot, the midnight contemplation, like every religious person, and also tikkun olam, making the world a better place, like every Jewish person.

So he was for his whole life, and he never disappointed me. To know such a person is a privilege.

His contribution, deriving from his qualities and his broad knowledge, afforded Haaretz a distinctive backbone. That he himself possessed a strong backbone and could be relied on, was never in doubt.

He didn’t think it was his duty to gladden people or to sadden them; his responsibility, he believed, lay in sharing with them the right outlook, particularly one that is also inspiring. Thus he lived his whole life, without shirking the consequences of his nature or of the person he was.

His contribution runs deep, and his memory, too, will run deep, as one who never bent in any situation and never spared us the rod of truth.

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