September 11, 2001. I get off the bus from northern Tel Aviv that takes me to 21 Shocken St., where the Haaretz building is located. As I enter the doors I’m greeted by a colleague from the Hebrew news desk, who says “Wow, you’re going to have quite a shift.” I was night editor of the English edition of Haaretz at the time.
Intrigued, I ask “Why?”
“You didn’t see? A plane just hit one of the World Trade Center towers.”
I ran to my office, saw other staff members staring in awe at the television screens, and turned on my TV. I got there just in time to watch the second plane hit.
I started to tremble, and immediately picked up the phone to David Landau, editor in chief. “Did you see what’s going on?!”
“So, when are you coming in?”
“Seriously, when are you coming?”
“You’ll be fine. Call me if you need anything, I’ll help from here.”
“Are you crazy?!?!”
We were both right. He was crazy, and I was fine. I put out a good paper, and got it sent on time.
David Landau, who passed away yesterday due to an illness, was my first mentor in journalism. He was my boss, my teacher, my friend. He was this to many people, so influential a person to the lives and careers of dozens, if not hundreds.
Already, much has been said about him since he passed. To fully grasp what a special man he was, I sincerely recommend reading the beautiful obituary written by Anshel Pfeffer here, and the very moving farewells from his two colleagues Gideon Levy here, and Chemi Shalev here. They have portrayed much more beautifully than I ever could the complexity of David, his life story and amazing accomplishments, his few minuses and hundreds of pluses.
As many do, I also remember my first encounter with David. It was my interview for an internship at the Haaretz English edition he had just founded about six months earlier. I’ll never forget his first words to me as I entered his office:
“Well, that’s a horrible shirt to wear to an interview.”
In retrospect, it was....Read More