Home  > Israel-News Today
ISRAEL LOSES A WARRIOR (NEW YORK POST OP-ED) ERIC FETTMANN 11/06/03) Source: http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/10061.htm
The Headline Contains

* Choose from 1 of the 4 descriptions for the headline and or any paragraph.


November 6, 2003 -- LONG before he became known as one of the state of Israel´s most impassioned and eloquent defenders, David Bar-Illan - then one of the world´s foremost concert pianists - told an interviewer, "It is impossible to live in an ivory tower when everybody around you is struggling for the survival of a nation."
Paragraph-1 Contains
That was the defining sentiment of Bar-Illan´s life, which ended, sadly, in Jerusalem on Tuesday night, nearly four years after he suffered a massive heart attack from which he never recovered.
Paragraph-2 Contains
Bar-Illan was undoubtedly familiar to a large segment of Post readers for different reasons: For some, he was the acclaimed pianist who performed with many of the world´s leading orchestras and conductors, including Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.
Paragraph-3 Contains
And, indeed, he could have continued pursuing that career, enjoying life in the cultural ivory tower. In fact, Bar-Illan was a true Renaissance man: in addition to his musical skills, he was an amateur mathematician, skilled linguist and avid explorer of archeology and ancient history.
Paragraph-4 Contains
But Bar-Illan had been bitten by the writing bug (he first started penning articles for Ralph Ginsberg´s controversial sex magazine, "Eros," in the early ´60s). Before long, he began using that equally prodigious talent on behalf of Israel at a time when the Jewish state increasingly seemed to be losing supporters in intellectual circles.
Paragraph-5 Contains
That was hardly surprising: Born in Haifa, he was a third-generation Palestinian (back when that word invariably referred to Jews). He won a scholarship to Juilliard at age 17, but went back to Israel in 1948 to fight with the Haganah underground. He later returned to New York, and his musical career began to flourish.
Paragraph-6 Contains
Bar-Illan created some controversy in 1961 when - after a long, emotional self-debate - he became the first Israeli artist to play in post-war Germany, performing with the Berlin Philharmonic. For that decision, he was assailed in the Israeli press - particularly from the right wing, to which, ironically, he would later become a hero.
Paragraph-7 Contains
Paragraph-8 Contains
"I am an optimist," he said at the time. "If you can´t believe in the new generation, you can´t believe in anything."
Paragraph-9 Contains
But Bar-Illan eventually would lose some of that optimistic spirit. Dismayed by ever-growing ad hominem attacks on Israel, he began spending more time in front of the typewriter than at the keyboard.
Paragraph-10 Contains
His articles went beyond mere polemicism, his writing had a simple grace to it - but never strayed from the central point. And he was always well ahead of the curve in anticipating the arguments that would be employed against Israel.
Paragraph-11 Contains
Consider this prescient piece on PLO apologists, written for The Post in 1986: "Whenever Arab terrorism shocks the world with the spilled blood of children, they suggest that only by addressing its ´root cause´ can it be stopped." And, he warned, "if we keep looking for ´root causes,´ terrorism will continue to flourish until it succeeds in destabilizing the very foundations of our lives."
Paragraph-12 Contains
Long before the Oslo Accords, he wrote that "if the terror gangs are really acting in defiance of Yasser Arafat´s orders, then he is useless as a partner for talks. Surely, a leader who cannot command the fealty of his colleagues before making substantive concessions is not going to control them if he ever does agree to a compromise."
Paragraph-13 Contains
Eventually, Bar-Illan abandoned concertizing and returned to Israel, where he became a top editor of the Jerusalem Post (we were colleagues there in the early ´90s and lived on the same street). There, he began writing "Eye on the Media," an often-blistering criticism of news-media coverage of Israel.
Paragraph-14 Contains
"In assuming that a Jewish state would make anti-Semitism disappear, Zionism´s founding fathers were dead wrong," he wrote. And, he´d concluded, "the world media have played a crucial role in this development."
Paragraph-15 Contains
His was the first sustained criticism of media coverage of the Middle East; unfortunately, because it came from someone on the political right, it was arrogantly dismissed by most correspondents. Still, he argued, journalists "do not have to be personally objective. But it is their professional duty to be fair" and not to "serve a cause by hiding and distorting facts."
Paragraph-16 Contains
In 1996, he left journalism to serve as a top advisor to then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; it put him at the center of world events, but he clearly missed the excitement of putting out a daily newspaper.
Paragraph-17 Contains
One former Israeli correspondent for a major U.S. paper told me he objected to what he saw as Bar-Illan´s automatic assumption that all journalists are biased against Israel, and that every article with which he disagreed was intended as a deliberate smear.
Paragraph-18 Contains
If so, it certainly wasn´t done out of malice, for David was one of the gentlest of souls. But he was a passionate defender of his people and their country, convinced that, if treated fairly by the world press, Israel could make its own case.
Paragraph-19 Contains
No one made that case as skillfully and convincingly as he did. (Copyright 2003 NYP Holdings, Inc. 11/06/03)
Paragraph-20 Contains
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY


NEW YORK POST Articles-Index-Top Publishers-Index-Top Return to Top