One of the flowers of the British Jewish community, the journalist David Landau OBE, who died in January 2015, was recalled with love, affection and admiration at Haaretz’s first London conference on Sunday by many of those who had worked with him.
In an audience which included his widow, Jackie, members of his family and the founder of JW3, where the conference was held, Dame Vivian Duffield, former staff members — including Haaretz’s present editor-in-chief, Aluf Benn, and the newspaper’s publisher, Amos Schocken — paid tribute to Mr Landau.
He was that rare thing in Israel, said Aluf Benn, “an Orthodox Jew with liberal views”. Amos Schocken recalled offering Mr Landau the job of editing Haaretz, which initially he turned down, demurring: “I’m not one of you.” But the publisher insisted. “David was the founding editor of our English edition and I took him completely by surprise when I asked him to be our editor-in-chief. A deeply Orthodox Jew heading a secular newspaper, in a place where there is a constant tension between rabbis and liberal democracy, could have looked strange to some, but not to me. I saw no contradiction: a true Zionist with strong journalistic instincts, David was, by all means, one of us.”
In memory of David Landau, Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian and Aluf Benn inaugurated the conference. Throughout the day, at almost every session, speakers paid tribute to the journalist, who had been awarded his OBE in recognition of his services in advancing understanding between Britain and Israel, and peace in the Middle East.