December 26, 2006

WITH A PEN:

A Hero in His Own Right (SETH LIPSKY, December 26, 2006, NY Sun)

Uri Dan, who died Sunday at the age of 71, was one of the great journalists of his time. To thousands of New Yorkers he was known for his dispatches in the New York Post, which he served for 25 years as its correspondent in Israel. In 1954, he started writing for an Israel Defense Force paper. Early on, he met a young Israeli officer, Ariel Sharon, and the famous friendship began. It was Dan who, years later, forecast that those who would not have Ariel Sharon as chief of staff would have him as defense minister and those who would not have him as defense minister would have him as prime minister.

I first met Dan in the early 1980s, when he accompanied Mr. Sharon, then Menachem Begin's defense minister, on a visit to Washington and New York to explain the goals of the invasion of Lebanon that was going to take place the next time Israel was attacked by terrorist groups based there. Dan's role seemed a bit murky. Was he an adviser to the defense minister or merely a journalist covering him or simply a friend? He turned out to be all three.

What became clear over the years since is that Uri Dan had one of the truest understandings of Israel and the wider world in all of newspaperdom. This was apparent in his thousands of dispatches, broadcasts, and magazine articles, not to mention the books, that poured from his pen or the photographs that got captured by his camera. We may be in an age where the preoccupation is with the medium — the rise of the Internet, the fate of newspapers, the fragmentation of radio, the erosion of the big networks. Yet Uri Dan still worked with a pen. He made his mark not by pioneering a new medium but by championing a great cause.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 26, 2006 11:00 AM
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