Grapevine: The ‘Post’ bids farewell to David Horovitz

In voicing their opinions of Horovitz both as an editor and a human being, his colleagues and the 'Post' management were in accord.

By
July 28, 2011 22:23
David Horovitz and ‘Jerusalem Post’ owner Eli Azur

David Horovitz and ‘Jerusalem Post’ owner Eli Azur. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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TWO JEWS, three opinions, goes the old saying. But there’s always an exception to the rule, and the exception is David Horovitz, until recently editor- in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.

In voicing their opinions of Horovitz both as an editor and a human being, his colleagues and the Post management were in accord – a rare situation in any enterprise, because in the nature of things, management and staff rarely see eye to eye. And if management and staff are both Jewish, it goes without saying.

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But when it came to Horovitz, both waxed lyrical and seemed to have raided the thesaurus for superlatives. The truth, without the superlatives, is that Horovitz is a really good guy – so much so that when he decided that the time had come for change, his bosses bent over backward in an attempt to persuade him to stay, and when this effort failed, decided to make a memorable farewell party.

Horovitz would have been perfectly content to have had a modest affair in the Post conference room. But Eli Azur, the owner of the paper and the head of Mirkaei Tikshoret, the media group that owns The Jerusalem Post Group, would not hear of it. He insisted on something more lavish in a luxury hotel. Horovitz thought it would be a buffet in one of the private rooms, but instead he and his colleagues were treated to a multi-course dinner in the courtyard of the capital’s Inbal Hotel on Tuesday evening, with Azur and other senior management coming specially from Tel Aviv for the occasion.

While it is customary to give gifts to the guest of honor, Horovitz had a few gifts to dispense himself – to Azur, to his invaluable assistant Linda Amar and to his successor, Steve Linde. Horovitz gave Linde photographer David Rubinger’s new book, and Linde gave a Horovitz a squash racket.

Linde recalled that before Horovitz became editor-in-chief in 2004, he had never actually met him. Over time, Linde said, he had come to admire Horovitz’s eloquence, intelligence, leadership abilities, integrity, astuteness and wit. He became Horovitz’s righthand man, and they made a great team, to the extent that some weeks ago, when Horovitz first made it known to a very small circle that he was leaving and that Linde had been designated to take over, Linde’s reaction, instead of excitement, was a sense of loss. Aside from being colleagues, the two had become fast friends, and beyond that, rivals on the squash court – which explains Linde’s gift.

Eyal Golan, the managing director of business development at Mirkaei Tikshoret, recalled first meeting Horovitz in New York when the group had just begun considering the acquisition of the Post. There had been a room full of men in business suits sitting around a conference table with laptops in front of them, and at the far end was a slight figure who somehow looked out of place. The men in the business suits made their respective presentations, which were not particularly convincing, said Golan, and then came the turn of that figure at the end of the room – Horovitz – who spoke with so much passion and conviction about what the Post represented that it was impossible to take a negative attitude to the transaction – “and so we bought it.”



Golan used to make affectionate fun of Horovitz’s very British, genteel personality, and fancifully suggested that he become more fiercely Israeli and change his name to Dudu Abutbul. But Horovitz remained unchanged, to what Golan acknowledged was his relief.

Post CEO Ronit Hasin-Hochman wrote a moving Hebrew poem in praise of Horovitz, in which she said that he was not only a fantastic editor, but a person of principle admired at home and abroad. On behalf of management, Hasin- Hochman thanked “all the wonderful editors and reporters for their intensive, professional and devoted work, which makes us the leading newspaper in the Jewish world.”

“We are proud of you, our team and our product,” she said.

Azur is not in the habit of making speeches – but in Horovitz’s case, he made an exception, and declared that he was speaking from the heart. He, too, related to Horovitz’s sensitivity, his generosity of spirit and his concern for the future of the nation. “Anyone who has an in-depth conversation with him realizes how much he cares about everything in the country,” he said.

Speaking of the writer as well as the editor, Azur said that Horovitz was such a credible and trustworthy reporter that when Barack Obama was running for the US presidency and visited Israel, the candidate had spent more time talking to Horovitz than to reporters of major Hebrew newspapers. Azur also made it clear that even though Horovitz was leaving the Post, he was not leaving the friends he had made at Mirkaei Tikshoret, and they would continue to be in touch.

Video Editor Benjamin Spier produced a wonderful memento for Horovitz, with Post staff from Linde down wishing him well and thanking him for his influence on their writing, on their outlook and on their lives.

Embarrassed but plainly moved by the occasion, Horovitz said he felt as if he were at a mix of his bar mitzva, wedding and “that other life-cycle event where the protagonist is not usually present,” and had something personal to say about almost everyone present, which was no mean feat. He also thanked his wife Lisa for helping him to keep some semblance of balance between family life and work.

This was his second stint at the Post. The first began in May 1983, three months after his aliya. In February of that year, two weeks after his aliya, he had applied for a job, and was told his Hebrew wasn’t good enough. But in May, he was put on the night desk, where his jobs included translating the weather report (not too arduous) and the reports from the paper’s then-correspondent in the North, Menachem Horowitz (rather more of a strain on his Hebrew).

One of the things that he appreciated most during his second stint was the editorial freedom he was given by Azur. “If different owners, with narrow partisan political agendas, had bought the Post, they wouldn’t have wanted me as editor, and I wouldn’t have wanted to work for them,” he said, stressing his emphasis on fair-minded reporting of the news and an oped selection from across the political spectrum. He said he hoped this approach helped promote “vital internal Jewish tolerance” by underlining that many people, with many different views on how Israel should move forward, nonetheless share a profound devotion to the country’s well-being.

This is an editorial policy that Linde intends to pursue.

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