Robert Rosenberg, author, poet, Internet pioneer and journalist, died of cancer yesterday in Tel Aviv. He was 54.
Born in Boston and raised in Newton, Massachusetts, Rosenberg was educated at Tufts University and Tel Aviv University, and held a master's degree in education from Harvard. He had many intense interests but journalism always played a major part in his life, mainly due to his passionate concern for Israeli society.
After university he joined the UPI news agency in Tel Aviv as a telex operator, initially working for free until his incredible speed, sharp writing and incisive understanding won him a position as a correspondent. This was followed by more than a decade at The Jerusalem Post, where he covered several major beats, co-founded the paper's weekly supplement In Jerusalem and then wrote the highly acclaimed column "Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv." He also served as Israel correspondent for Time Magazine and later, for U.S. News and World Report. His freelance work appeared in international publications including Playboy, Penthouse and the Reader's Digest.
Starting in 1998, he was a senior staff editor, writer and translator at the Haaretz English Edition.
His experiences as a police reporter became the basis for four well-received novels: "Crimes of the City," "The Cutting Room," "House of Guilt" and "An Accidental Murder." All four books featured detective Avram Cohen, a shrewd, brandy-loving Holocaust survivor who embodied Rosenberg's notion that only a very well-informed pragmatic morality could get to the bottom of mysteries and emerge with a solution in which justice was served as the public peace preserved. A fifth book, "Secret Soldier: The True Life Story of Israel's Greatest Commando," was written with Moshe (Muki) Betser.
Rosenberg's prescient interest in computers and the Internet, combined with his dedication to the cause of peace and social justice, led him to found the Ariga Web site in 1995. Ariga was always way ahead of its time - Rosenberg was blogging about the peace process in 1996, before the word "blog" had even been coined. He is widely considered to be the grandfather of all peace-related sites in the Middle East.
Ariga, a Web site devoted to "peace and pleasure at the intersection of three continents," was an intensely personal labor of love. It included a daily column about Israeli and Middle Eastern politics called The Situation, a poetry 'zine and an eclectic compendium of information from enthusiastic friends.
Another product of his abiding fascination with Internet technologies was Datasphere Ltd, a company that he co-founded in 1998 and which created Koldoon, the world's largest database of financial data on technology-based private equity companies.
Rosenberg is survived by his wife Silvia, his daughter Amber, his mother Dolly, his brother Peter and his sister Amy, and mourned by a large circle of friends and admirers.
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