Former Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz editor David Landau had the broad shouldered physique of an athlete, loved to play football [soccer], was an almost stereo-typed British gentleman except when his hackles rose, and then he could be the exact opposite. He wore the black kippa of the ultra orthodox and inter alia studied at the Slobodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and the Hebron Yeshiva in Jerusalem, yet entertained political views that were far removed from those of the right.
Above: David Landau
Greer Fay Cashman writes in the Jerusalem Post:
David Landau, one of the most brilliant and controversial English language journalists in Israel died on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.
Born in England and a product of London’s Golders Green, he was somewhat of an enigma. He had the broad shouldered physique of an athlete, loved to play football [soccer], was an almost stereo-typed British gentleman except when his hackles rose, and then he could be the exact opposite. He wore the black kippa of the ultra orthodox and inter alia studied at the Slobodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and the Hebron Yeshiva in Jerusalem, yet entertained political views that were far removed from those of the right.…
When the paper was purchased by the Hollinger Group in 1989, its policy veered from the left to the right and there was too much interference from management. Landau tried to fight this, but when he realized that it was a losing proposition, he led a walk-out in 1990 and more than half of the editorial staff went with him.
…[H]e launched [Ha’aretz]’s English edition, serving as editor-in-chief from 1997-2004, and then for the next four years as Haaretz editor in chief.…
Landau was the author and ghost writer of several books including Battling for Peace, the memoirs of Shimon Peres. He and Peres knew each other well from the days when Peres was Foreign Minister.
Landau’s last book was The Life of Ariel Sharon, a biography that had been commissioned by the prestigious New York publishing house Alfred A. Knopf. The book was published last year, and though already in deteriorating health, Landau was able to launch it at the Jerusalem Press Club.
…He was given a lifetime achievement award by the Bnai Brith World Center which has an annual awards ceremony for journalism, and he received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors on the recommendation of British Ambassador Matthew Gould for services in advancing UK-Israel understanding and peace in the Middle East.
In an obituary published on the Haaretz website, publisher Amos Schocken was quoted as saying that Landau had made an enormous contribution to the paper “as an enlightened Zionist intellectual, a liberal in the full sense of the word and a believing Jew.”
Landau is survived by his wife Jackie their three children and eight grandchildren.
Landau was scheduled to be laid to rest at 4:00 pm on Wednesday at the Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Jerusalem.
There's a great story about Landau, Cashman and then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, another great story about Landau praying while on assignment near the front during the Six Day War, and much more information in the full obituary, which you can read here.
The Ha'aretz obituary for Landau is also great, and it contains this story from Ha'aretz's very secular publisher, Amos Schocken:
“When I offered him the job of editor-in-chief, David responded: That’s impossible; I’m not one of you. I asked: What do you mean, you’re not one of us? And he answered: I wasn’t raised on what you were raised on, my education in Britain was different, my attitude toward religion is different. But he became the paper’s editor, bringing his own unique qualities and his own unique baggage to the job, and he was a great success."
Read it all here.