Moshe Negbi (1949-2017)

Moshe cared about everything. He was an inherently good man, a mensch.

Moshe Negbi  (photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR/FLASH90)
Moshe Negbi
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR/FLASH90)
With Moshe’s death, the world is poorer.
Sounds grand, I know. But it is true. This isn’t something I say about any loss, but I say it about dear Moshe. A tower of goodness, of truth, of kindness and of virtue. A model to follow. One of Israel’s best citizens. A wonderful husband and father. A kind and good friend.
As a student at Tel Aviv University, doing my first steps as a student of Israeli democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, I read and reread Moshe’s books.
I read his columns in the newspapers, and listened to his radio talk show, which is a model of democratic broadcasting. When I returned to Israel from Oxford in 1991 and started to work at The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute I met Moshe and a strong bond began to form. We shared the same worldview, same concerns and worries, same hopes for the future of Israel.
Moshe and I could talk for hours. Politics. Media. Free speech. Democracy. Culture. Family. The justice system. We talked nonstop until it was time for us to move to other duties. Moshe invited me to take part in his radio show and I accepted his invitations whenever I could. I was honored to participate in what I perceived to be the best talk show on Israeli radio. By far, Din U’Dvarim was the talk show on Israeli affairs.
Moshe cared about everything. He was an inherently good man, a mensch. An avid reader, he had encyclopaedic knowledge of Israeli law and media. He was always honest, true to himself and to others, a bastion of justice, often an island to himself, a lighthouse in depressing darkness. Moshe was totally incorruptible. He continued to raise his clear voice also when he knew people would not forgive him for speaking the truth to their faces. Moshe was for justice for all, notwithstanding race, religion, nationalism, gender, sexual preference, race or any other factor. Moshe cared about people qua people.
Moshe was a social-democrat, a human rights activist, a feminist, a liberal and a humanist. Moshe was a pure soul. He continued to believe in the goodness of others when there was little to cling to by way of evidence. He remained hopeful when darkness loomed. He continued to fight for justice for all until his last day.
Moshe fought for Israeli democracy, for freedom of speech and of the press, for freedom of religion and from religion, for minorities and refugees, for guest workers and prostitutes, for gays and transgenders , for the Supreme Court and for just law.
Moshe was always there to fight for the weak, to give a voice to the voiceless, to shine and speak the undefeatable truth when everyone else chose silence.
Moshe paid a price for his bravery. Many did not like his firm stance for justice.
When they failed to corrupt him, they tried to silence him and to push him aside. They had some success but Moshe continued to speak his mind in his quiet, direct and wise voice. Moshe was a model to follow.
Moshe started to work in the broadcasting authority in 1969. He also wrote for various newspapers, and taught at the Hebrew University and other departments of communication. He worked hard in several places to enable good living for his wife, Irit, and their three children. Moshe was modest, honest, brave, direct, kind, caring and loving. He was a true professional and a person of great integrity. This is why I feel that we are all impoverished to continue living without his wise and enlightened presence.
I lost a friend. Israel lost its foremost knight for justice. Who will take his place? Dear Moshe. Your memory and legacy will live with me forever. I love you dearly.
The author is director of the MESG School of Law and Politics at the University of Hull.