Israeli Television Personality Modi Bar-On Dies at 59

Bar-On, who was one of the country's most beloved sportscasters, was also an accomplished creator of documentaries on Zionist history and contemporary Israel

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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Modi Bar-On in 2020.
Modi Bar-On in 2020.Credit: Hadas Parush
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

Israeli television presenter and producer Modi Bar-On died Monday, after a battle with cancer, at the age of 59. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Bar-On was born in 1962 in Kiryat Tivon, in Israel's north to a father who worked at the Nesher cement factory in the Haifa area. The broadcaster's mother was a Holocaust survivor who worked as a teacher. The family later moved to Haifa.

Bar-On's military service coincided with the first Lebanon war, a period that had a major influence later in his life, when he became a standup comedian and screenwriter. Following his military service, he studied theater at Tel Aviv University.

He did little acting, however, and his success on stage consisted of his short standup career.

In 1993, he was part of a team of writers for the satirical television show "Hahamishiya Hakamerit," which he later said provided a chance to poke fun at the members of his generation, before he and his colleagues later directing their attention to political criticism.

In the 1990s, he joined Israel's Sports Channel, a broadcast organization that he remained with until recently. He was one of the country's most beloved sportscasters, anchoring countless soccer matches. On a personal level, he was a diehard fan of the Hapoel Haifa soccer team.

With Anat Zeltzer, he produced a range of documentaries on the history of Zionism. A series called "Hakol Anashim" ("Everything is People"), which the pair produced in 1997 on the leaders of the early Zionist movement, became part of the Education Ministry's curriculum. In 2003, their 11-part documentary series "Bemedinat Hayehudim," ("In the State of the Jews") on the history of Israeli humor was broadcast on Channel 1 to great success.

In 2011, the pair's first television series dealing with contemporary Israel, "Kvish 90" ("Highway 90") was aired. Their final series, "Shiur Moledet" ("Homeland Lesson"), was broadcast in 2019 and dealt with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the standpoint of Israeli and Palestinian historians.

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