Haaretz Commentator Reuven Pedatzur Killed in Car Accident

Pedatzur, 66, a reserve combat pilot, began writing for Haaretz in the 1980s and was a lecturer at several academic centers. Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn: His lucid voice will be missed.

Reuven Pedatzur
Reuven Pedatzur. Chaim Taragan

Haaretz commentator Dr. Reuven Pedatzur was killed Monday night in a traffic accident on Highway 2 along Israel's coast. Pedatzur, 66, stopped his motorcycle near Caesarea Junction, most likely due to technical malfunction, and was hit by a passing vehicle.

Paramedics who arrived at the scene attempted to resuscitate him, but later pronounced him dead. Traffic police are investigating the accident.

Pedatzur, a reserve combat pilot, started working for Haaretz in the 1980s as a military reporter. Throughout the years he wrote many analyses and opinion pieces on military and defense, often taking a critical stance toward the subject matter. He also hosted a radio program on Army Radio, and worked as a pilot for the Israeli airline Arkia.

In addition to his journalistic career, Pedatzur was a senior lecturer at the Netanya Academic College and at the Israel National Defense College, and published numerous academic articles. His research focused on missile defense, nuclear and unconventional arms, and the Israeli defense doctrine.

His Ph. D. thesis, presented in 1992 to the Tel Aviv University's Political Science Department, was titled "The Influence of 'Decision Kitchens' on National Security Decision Making: The Eshkol Government and the Territories, 1967–1969.” In recent years, he directed the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at the Netanya Academic College.

Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn said: "I read Reuven religiously for 30 years, and I'll miss his writing, as many readers will. His articles were an example of critical writing on the IDF and the defense establishment, and he stuck by his opinions persistently, even when they were not popular at the news desk, and differed from those of his colleagues.

"As Haaretz's military reporter in the mid '80s, Reuven led the struggle against the Lavie plane development. Later he consistently objected – for 25 years – to the development and equipment of missile defense systems, from the Arrow to Iron Dome. Reuven believed these systems were expensive, decrease Israel's deterrence, and were overrated by the defense establishment.

"Reuven also wrote a lot about the weakness of civilian oversight of the defense establishment, and of the misuse of threat assessment as leverage to increase the defense budget. With his sudden and shocking death, the public discourse will greatly miss his lucid voice on matters of national security."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said of Pedatzur, “In quite a few instances he was not afraid to be a lone voice and swim against the tide. Reuven was an important man who gave depth and seriousness to his work as a writer, a researcher and a lecturer in security affairs. His presence will be missed for those in this field and by his many students.”

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Danny Yatom, former head of the Mossad and chairman of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at the time of its founding, said: “Reuven was a man of many talents; a man of strong opinions who stated them without fear and without bias, even when the prevailing opinion was the opposite…His academic contribution was significant.”

Yatom also said that Pedatzur was very personable and “it was clear to everyone that when he expressed other opinions he did so from the point of view of someone who cared, not for the sake of arguing. Even people who disagreed with him admired him.”