Editor and publisher of Israel’s daily Ha’aretz from 1939 until his death in 1990, Gershom Schocken was born in Germany on this date in 1912. He emigrated to Palestine after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, and his businessman father, who later launched Schocken Books in the United States, purchased the newspaper. Gershom built it into a major national voice in Israel and was named International Editor of the Year by the American-based World Press Review for Ha’aretz’s coverage of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Progressive and dovish in his views, and a fierce civil libertarian, Schocken served in the Knesset for four years in the 1950s and made his newspaper the country’s leading voice of liberalism in Israel. Schocken also wrote poetry in Hebrew, German, and English under the pen-name Robert Pozen.
“Ever since the state [of Israel] was founded, the religious establishment has undergone a process of radicalization, as it attempts to impose on the sovereign Jewish nation those prohibitions and bans that applied when they existed solely as an ethno-religious group. Although it won’t be able to succeed, the more it tries, the more it prevents the formation of normal relations among the different ethnic groups in the country.”—Gershom Schocken