David Remnick, in The New Yorker, profiles Amos Schocken, the prickly but principled (albeit ideologically nonconformist) publisher of Haaretz, which, though long seen—by its own staff as much as its readers—as the conscience of Israeli society, shares with the state itself an increasingly uncertain future:
The Haaretz building, a low-slung gray-and-white concrete affair that could be mistaken for a warehouse or a factory, is situated on a street in southern Tel Aviv named for the Schocken family. The neighborhood is remote from the Bauhaus center of Tel Aviv high life, with little more than car-repair places and falafel joints nearby. The newsroom, like newsrooms everywhere, is filled largely with young people working in an ascending arc of urgency; the day starts with desultory phone calls, office gossip, and planning meetings, and the pace accelerates as deadlines approach. What is unusual about the Haaretz newsroom is the art collection. Amos Schocken is one of the country’s biggest collectors of Israeli art, some of it spectacular, much of it politically subversive. As you walk in the main entrance, you pass the split corpse of a pig, hanging from a meat hook. The animal is made of multicolored jelly-worm candies. “I’m not sure what it means,” Schocken told me, with his distinctively thin, enigmatic smile. There are slyly disfigured maps of Israel, paintings made of blown-up phone-sex ads, a portrait of David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, and Moshe Dayan hovering over dead soldiers. Elsewhere there are Adi Nes’s homoerotic photographs of Israeli soldiers and, in Schocken’s office, a huge canvas, by the Palestinian artist Durar Bacri, of an Arab man and a goat. During the second intifada, a time of suicide bombings and military incursions, Schocken put up a painting, by David Reeb, of soldiers in combat, with the bitingly ironic banner “LETS HAVE ANOTHER WAR.”
Schocken is sixty-six, slender, and aristocratic in a German-Jewish way, both diffident and self-possessed. He is not evidently eager for approval, least of all from readers and advertisers. When he answers letters of complaint from readers, he is apt to write, “It seems that Haaretz is just not for you.” As a newspaper proprietor, Schocken faces all the familiar challenges of his peers around the world: a vanished classified-ad market, the uncertain profitability of Internet editions. His ideological focus, however, is distinct and unyielding. He is thoroughly committed to ending Israel’s forty-four-year occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. He is also a singular force in Israeli journalism on issues such as free speech, equal rights for Israeli Arabs, the independence of the Supreme Court, and the exposure of military abuse. On the sixtieth anniversary of Israel’s independence, Schocken published an article saying that “Hatikvah,” the national anthem, should be changed, as its lyrics are about only Jewish aspirations. “How can an Arab citizen identify with such an anthem?”
Read the article in full here.