Iconic Israeli Journalist Moti Kirschenbaum Dies at 76

Kirschenbaum was among the founders of Israeli television, winning the Israel Prize in 1976 for his contributions to Israeli media.

Daniel Tchetchik

Veteran Israeli journalist and media personality Moti Kirschenbaum died at his home on Friday at age 76. 

A spokesperson for Ichilov Hospital, Tel Aviv reported that Kirchenbaum died a sudden death, apparently following cardiac arrest.

Kirschenbaum, who turned 76 on Thursday, won the Israel Prize in 1976 for his contributions to art, ratio, television and film. He was among the founders of Israeli television and served as CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority from 1993 to 1997 and as editor-in-chief of the "Mabat" news program and "Nikui Rosh" satirical program.

He is survived by four children. His funeral will be held on Sunday at 10 A.M. in Michmoret.

Along with Yaron London, Kirschenbaum hosted Channel 10's "London and Kirschenbaum" program, starting in the early 2000s, and filmed a number of documentary films for the channel.

In October 2009, the Journalists Association awarded Kirschenbaum with a lifetime achievement award, along with Yaron London and Yediot Aharonoth journalist Sever Plotzker, for their contribution to Israeli media.

Last year, he was appointed as a member of Channel 10's executive board. He was in the channel's offices as recently as Thursday night, celebrating his birthday.

"Moti Kirschenbaum was one of the pioneers of television in Israel, with a special voice and a rich vocabulary," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Kirschenbaum's death." He was a penetrating but fair interviewer, with great intellectual curiosity. He will be missed."

"The departure of Moti Kirschenbaum is the loss of a creator, manager and leader in the field of Israeli television," said President Reuven Rivlin. "I met him first during my early days in the Knesset and he remained a devoted friend and opponent, as a journalist, as the manager of public television, as a sports fan and always, always as a friend."

Kirschenbaum was born in 1939 in Kfar Sava, Israel. He studied at the Pardes Hanna Agricultural High School and served in the Israel Defense Forces' paratroopers unit. Upon completing his military service, he went to study film at UCLA in Los Angeles.

From Los Angeles, Kirschenbaum first worked as a journalist for Yedioth Aharonoth on the happenings in Hollywood. In 1966, he helped found the Israel Broadcasting Authority and served as editor of the first edition of the "Mabat" news program. He later created the satirical program "Nikui Rosh" with B. Michael and Efraim Sidon, for which he was awarded the Israel Prize in 1976.

During the 1980s, Kirschenbaum worked as an artist and independent filmmaker, notably collaborating with the comedy group Hagashash Hahiver. In 1993, former Communications Minister Shulamit Aloni appointed him director general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, a position he held until 1997.

In recent years, he produced documentaries for Channel 10 showcasing his trip to Antarctica with his son Aviv, as well as trips to many African countries.

In 2007, Tel Aviv University awarded him with a prize recognizing his contribution to orinthology in Israel.

In a 2013 interview with Haaretz, Kirschenbaum spoke about the initial broadcasts of his satirical program "Nikui Rosh" following the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

"We began to broadcast on the waves of protest against the [war's] failures, and the war is what enabled us to be harsh," Kirschenbaum said.

"Since we were still licking our wounds of the nearly 3,000 soldiers killed, we said that we were not dealing with fallen soldiers. The harm we could have caused to bereaved parents who have lost what was most valuable to them - we decided we would not do this," he added.

"We will attack the politicians, the officers, there are no sacred cows aside from the soldiers. This was the only exception."

In an interview with Emanuel Rosen on Radio 103FM, Kirchenbaum spoke of his love of sports, soccer in particular.

"Soccer, unlike basketball and other great sports, is beyond sport - it's a religion. The difference between it and Christianity and Judaism and Islam is that God changes all the time. Every year, we have another god. Today I'm with Messi, I pray to Messi. I have already prayed to Cruyff, Maradonna and Pele."