Hatzofeh, symbol of religious Zionism, closes after 71 years

Paper ran for 71 years, was identified with Mizrahi, NRP parties.

By MATTHEW WAGNER
December 25, 2008 19:11
2 minute read.
Hatzofeh, symbol of religious Zionism, closes after 71 years

Hazofeh 248.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

After 71 years of publication, Hatzofeh, a paper identified with the Mizrahi and National Religious Party (NRP), will print its last edition Friday. Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, a religious Zionist businessman who bought the paper from the NRP several years ago together with cosmetics mogul Ron Lauder, said through a spokesman that the move was part of cutbacks in the wake of the recent economic slowdown. A year and a half ago Hatzofeh was merged with Ben-Tzvi's other paper, the weekly Makor Rishon. The merged paper was called Makor Rishon - Hatzofeh and turned into a daily. Hatzofeh was reduced to a weekend supplement on religious affairs. On Friday the supplement will appear for the last time. "A strategic decision was made by the paper's management to devote resources to building up Makor Rishon," said Avi Lerner, a spokesman for Ben-Tzvi. Lerner said that 11 employees would be laid off. He added that Makor Rishon would be expanding its content to include a mid-week supplement that would deal with politics. Immanuel Shiloh, editor-in-chief of Be'sheva, a weekly that is identified with the right-wing segment of religious Zionism and was in competition with Hatzofeh, said in response, "It's really too bad that one of the few media platforms for religious people living in the modern world will cease to exist. Hatzofeh dealt with issues such as Orthodox feminism, separation of boys and girls in Bnei Akiva and various other halachic issues. Now discussion will be less diverse." The demise of Hatzofeh can be seen as part of a larger trend in journalism. Newspapers with clear affiliation to a specific political party - such as Davar, Al Hamishmar and now Hatzofeh - are closing down. The papers that remain generally operate in accordance with business considerations. "While it does represent a nationalist, right-wing constituency, Makor Rishon does not support any specific party," said Lerner. The decision to close Hatzofeh comes just weeks after the NRP's central committee decided to disband the party and create in its stead Habayit Hayehudi (the Jewish House) which aspired to incorporate the NRP and the National Union. Shaul Schiff, a journalist who covered a variety of beats at Hatzofeh for the past 45 years, and who is one of the 11 to be let go, said that the demise of Hatzofeh is part of a larger phenomenon of political and social disintegration in the religious Zionist camp. "Religious Kibbutzim are undergoing privatization, Bank Mizrahi was sold off, religious Zionist educational institutions are in financial straits, the NRP was dismantled and now this," said Schiff. "Today more religious Zionists vote for Likud than for the NRP and more of them read Yediot and Ma'ariv than Makor Rishon-Hatzofeh." Schiff said the decline in social cohesion began with the death of Moshe Haim Shapira, who dominated NRP leadership until his death in 1970. "We have lost our uniqueness as a separate group within Israeli society with its own culture, ideology and religious approach. Instead, we ape secular culture," Schiff said. Schiff attacked Makor Rishon for its secular leaning, pointing to the paper's entertainment section which provides criticism of movies and plays with content not suitable for a religious audience. Hatzofeh was established by Rabbi Meir Bar Ilan and most of its readers were employed in institutions affiliated with Mizrahi or the NRP such as Mizrahi Bank, the Religious Kibbutz Movement, Bar Ilan University and Bnei Akiva schools.

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town

By SHARON UDASIN