Veteran Israeli journalist remembers Simon: He went into the field and got the story

Bob Simon, in a career that spanned half a century, was in life threatening situations many times.

February 12, 2015 14:57
2 minute read.
Bob Simon

Bob Simon . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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No one expected intrepid, prize-winning veteran CBS News reporter Bob Simon, 73, who was a well known figure in Israel, based in Tel Aviv for many years, to die in his bed, or to die in his native New York. For years it was anticipated that Simon would be caught somewhere in the crossfire on foreign soil. Simon who covered wars and terrorist attacks in Vietnam, Europe, South America and the Middle East and went into the wilds of the African jungle and many other dangerous places died from injuries sustained in a traffic accident in which he was not even the driver, but a passenger in the back of a cab. Experts contend that the greatest number of accidents occur in the home. Simon, in a career that spanned half a century, was in life threatening situations many times, occasionally emerging scathed, but never permanently removed from the scene of the action. The accident occurred not far from his home in Manhattan.

"Bob Simon was a giant of broadcast journalism, and a dear friend to everyone in the CBS News family," CBS News President David Rhodes said in a statement. "We are all shocked by this tragic, sudden loss."

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Veteran Israeli journalist Hirsh Godman who was a close friend of Simon’s told The Jerusalem Post that “Bob was a very skilled writer and observer of issues. Though people may not have agreed with his reportage with regard to Israel no—one would disagree that he put himself out in the field. He went where the story was. He digested it, he understood it, he wrote it beautifully and he narrated it beautifully.  He was one of those reporters who didn’t sit around in his office on the phone. He went out into the field and got the story.”

Foreign correspondent Enrique Cymerman, who lived next door to Simon in Tel Aviv for many years, told Israel Radio that if anyone had told Simon how he would die, he would not have believed it. He’d reported from 67 countries.  He’d done almost everything a journalist could do and won 27 prizes for his work. Cymerman called him “the icon of CBS” and said that Simon loved coming back to Tel Aviv.  He was also very prescient.   During the Gulf War, he was angry and said the Americans should focus more attention on Iran and not on Iraq. “He saw long before anyone else that Iran was the greater threat”, said Cymerman.

In 1991, together with three other CBS News colleagues Simon was captured, imprisoned and tortured by the Iraqi Army. He chronicled this experience in a book titled Forty Days. He later described his time in captivity as the most searing period in his life, but this did not prevent him from taking further risks in his quest to get to the nitty gritty of the story and to share it with his viewers. 

He is survived by his wife, Françoise, a very popular figure in Israel, their daughter, Tanya, her husband, Dr. Evan Garfein, and his grandson Jack, who CBS 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager described as "the joy of his life” as evidenced by the many photographs of Jack that adorned Simon’s office. His last program made with his daughter who is a 60 Minutes producer, was about the Ebola virus and the search for a cure. It was due to be aired this coming Sunday. Father and daughter often worked together on a program and to some extent Tanya Simon will carry on her father’s legacy.

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