Obituary: The day the music (critic) died...

Danny Bloch's life ended suddenly where his long journalistic career began - at Israel Radio.

Danny Bloch 248.88 (photo credit: )
Danny Bloch 248.88
(photo credit: )
Daniel (Danny) Bloch, one of the country's most prominent journalists who died suddenly of a heart attack in Tel Aviv on Friday at the age of 68, was laid to rest at the Pardes Haim Cemetery in Kfar Saba on Sunday afternoon. Bloch collapsed at Israel Radio's Tel Aviv studios, where he had been a regular guest as a well-respected music critic. Friends noted the sad irony of his dying at Israel Radio, where he began his journalistic career. According to Reshet Bet's "What Will Be" cultural program presenter, Yoav Ginai, "Danny was a great lover of culture, and had an incredible knowledge of classical music. He knew every orchestra, every recording and every musician in the field." "Danny Bloch left us while doing one of the things he most loved, and that was recording a radio program," said Israel Radio director Aryeh Shaked. "May his memory be blessed." Before his death, Bloch recorded a special Rosh Hashana program for Reshet Alef featuring interviews with a range of intellectuals including Shulamit Aloni, A.B. Yehoshua, Moshe Arens and Haim Gouri. The funeral procession left on Sunday morning from Sokolov House, where journalists paid their respects, to Kfar Saba, where hundreds of mourners attended the burial. Bloch is survived by his American-immigrant wife, Phyllis, and two sons, David, 33, a student who works for Continental Airlines and Jonathan, 31, who works at a Tel Aviv restaurant. A former editor of the now-defunct Davar and more recently a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, Danny was the son of Dora Bloch, who was murdered in an Entebbe hospital after the daring IDF commando raid led by Yoni Netanyahu on July 4, 1976. Bloch's brother, Ilan Hartuv, was released together with the other Air France passengers held hostage by Palestinian terrorists. Netanyahu, the brother of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was the sole IDF casualty in the operation later named for him. Dora Bloch, 74, a widow, had been on her way to Danny's wedding when Air France Flight 139, an Airbus A300 carrying 260 passengers and crew that took off from Tel Aviv, was hijacked in Athens. "She was murdered on the way to my parents' wedding in New York," David Bloch told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. "After they got married on July 11, 1976, my mom moved to Israel." After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Bloch penned the following lines in the Post in a column called "It isn't our fault:" Too many Israelis have lost relatives, friends, and neighbors because of acts of terrorism. We understand the suffering and we fully support the American resolve to fight terrorism, because we were alone in the fight against terrorism for so many years. We were the first to actively fight against terrorism, in Entebbe for instance. Israel pioneered the preventive measures employed successfully by El Al and at Ben-Gurion Airport. Perhaps, had the Americans followed our lead on these matters, the September 11 calamity might have been avoided. DANNY AND Phyllis Bloch lived first in Jerusalem, took a break in the US between 1981 and 1989 when Bloch worked as a labor attache at the Israeli embassy in Washington, returned to Herzliya, and finally settled in Kfar Saba in 1995. "I have lost a man who was so happy with his chosen path," said Phyllis, a former executive director of ESRA, the English-Speaking Residents Association. "That was his passport to success." "He was someone who always saw the good in things," added David, who is completing his BA in the US. "And he always put others before himself." "I knew that my father reached out and touched a lot of people, but I really had no idea to what extent, in the radio world, in journalism, the culture world, the music world which he loved, theater and the arts. He was the editor of a retiree newspaper, and a few young women came out and said the nicest things about him." Born in Jerusalem, Bloch completed his military service in the Nahal Brigade and began working at Israel Radio in 1961 as a producer of youth programs. He later became the Knesset reporter and a news editor at the radio. In 1965, he moved to Davar, which was owned by the Histadrut labor federation, and covered a range of beats including politics and diplomacy before being appointed editor in 1991 under editor-in-chief Yoram Perry. He worked at Davar for the next 20 years, leaving the paper in 1995, a short time before it closed. Since his departure from Davar, he broadcast programs mostly on music, his true love and expertise, on Reshet Alef (but also one called Hidavrut, or Dialogue), edited the Third Time pensioners' magazine, had his own blog and wrote columns for several newspapers, most notably The Jerusalem Post. One of the more memorable of his over 250 columns for the Post was titled "When right is wrong," published on October 28, 2002. In it he wrote: At his inaugural speech, Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann, quoting the prophet Isaiah, said: 'Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and those who return with righteousness.' This saying is appropriate to our current situation more than ever before. Weizmann, who died 50 years ago this week, was one of our three most important founding fathers, together with Theodor Herzl and David Ben-Gurion. His unique contribution to the establishment of the State of Israel has been forgotten over the years mainly owing to the animosity and envy of Ben-Gurion. Because of his rivalry, Ben-Gurion was reluctant to recognize Weizmann's crucial contribution and, therefore, did not agree to give any real authority to the office of the presidency. Nevertheless, Weizmann's heritage is vitally important to us even today. He is best known for his diplomatic achievements - the Balfour Declaration, the UN resolution of November 1947 and US president Harry Truman's recognition of Israel's independence. But Weizmann's leadership was not only based on diplomacy. He had found the right balance between the political and diplomatic efforts and the struggle to build a viable society in the Land of Israel, able to defend itself and fight against its enemies, opening its gates to refugees and immigrants, in legal as well as illegal ways. He based this struggle on historical rights as well as on full adherence to the rule of law both in the international and national arena, with justice and equality for all human beings. He had invested many efforts, from 1917 until his last days, in trying to reach an understanding and compromise with the Arab world. But he never conditioned the establishment of an independent Jewish state in the Jewish homeland on its acceptance by the Arabs. When many Israeli and Zionist leaders were considering postponing the declaration of independence on May 15, 1948, Weizmann fully supported Ben-Gurion's firm stand to declare. He influenced Moshe Sharett, who was in many ways his disciple, to cast the crucial vote in support of the immediate unilateral establishment of the State of Israel. Weizmann and Ben-Gurion complemented each other in many ways. Their political partnership, in spite of their personal rivalry, proved crucial in building all that was needed to establish an independent state, to win its war of liberation, and to ensure its survival as a Jewish and democratic country, a haven for all Jewish survivors and refugees from around the world. Unfortunately, we do not have leaders like them anymore. Our current leadership lacks the ability to unite around the very principles that enabled us to survive in a troubled world and region, while building a flourishing economy and an exemplary society.