This Is My Farewell Column. I Salute My Brave Colleagues in Israel and Around the World

Journalists. They help save the world from itself. They are warriors. Prize them. They're your best shot

Award-winning investigative journalist Gidi Weitz (center right) with his colleagues at Haaretz's newsroom in Tel Aviv
Tomer Appelbaum

This will be my last weekly column for Haaretz. It's time for me to retire. Not at all at the initiative of Haaretz. Solely at my own. Not at all with sadness, but with a very deep, very full, very clear well of gratitude.

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It is an honor to be a journalist. It has been, and is to this day, my privilege to work with wondrous people, people of rare bravery and inextinguishable fire and heightened senses and hardened exteriors and open hearts and fingertips touched by God.

I prize them. I love them. They help save the world from itself.

I am thrilled by the younger writers now taking their rightful place at the heart of this profession. They are what real journalists have to be: warriors.

I've been at this for a long, long time, and still I marvel about what journalists have to do, what they have to go through, to practice what has become the most dangerously maligned necessary job there is on earth.

Bradley Burston and his wife Varda Spiegel during solidarity action with Palestinians in the West Bank
Courtesy of Bradley Burston

Journalism remains necessary because, even in the age of social media, perhaps especially in the age of social media, the vulnerable and the victimized are all too often unseen and unheard and unaided until their plight is made public. By the press.

I am proud of the place I work. It preaches freedom and practices it. It sheds light. It keeps alive a flame which has grown more and more rare, more and more fragile, more and more a target in an environment which has turned darkness into a cult, and intimidation into law.

Bradley Burtson discusses the immediate aftermath of Israel's electionHaaretz

Haaretz has been around for a hundred tough years. Haaretz is a lighthouse.

There is nothing in this world like it. It is part NGO, part pain in the ass, part virtual congregation for those who feel they have been, at least in part, excommunicated. May it continue to rain holy hell on those who so richly deserve it.

The person who owns it is a quiet man who is, in many respects, the most courageous of all of us. In a profession of unimaginably stubborn people, he stands his ground as no one else. He is unafraid of being unpopular, of speaking his mind, and of printing the unpopular views of others. He is not of the present century. He is one of a kind.

Haaretz's Bradley Burston on a tour in West Bank settlements with Daniella Weiss

It's an honor to have known the people I've worked alongside.

Some of the best of my colleagues, my teachers and my friends, are gone now. In particular, David Twersky, David Landau, Robert Rosenberg, and Merle Gould, who all passed away much too soon, maybe of having lived all that much.

I sometimes wonder how they would have dealt with this time of high-test evil and the exceptional success authoritarian rulers have found in scapegoating and inciting against news outlets they don't already control as a pillar of their rule.

With the growth of authoritarianism, many of my colleagues have been wounded, some left disabled, in the course of their work. More and more are being jailed for doing their job. More and more, for the same reason, are being killed.

I pray for the safety of my colleagues. I wish them strength. I wish them the appreciation they so wholly deserve.

I will them my optimism. May they be ferocious when appropriate and kind when kindness is called for. May they continue to support and shield and come to the aid of one another.

They are heroes. Their loved ones are heroes tenfold, for putting up with all of this.

As for me, I've had my say.  It's been an astonishing privilege, something I never expected to have happen in my life. Every so often I'll file another piece. But only when I'm good and furious, or intensely moved.

In the end, if authoritarians are to be defeated, it will be in part because the endangered species called journalists refused to roll over and be domesticated or eradicated, because newswomen and newsmen were willing to take the heat inherent in committing the crime of just doing their job. Accurately. Fairly. And despite their real fears, fearlessly.

Prize them. They're your best shot.