Gershom Gustav Schocken, editor for more than 50 years of the respected Israeli daily Haaretz and a champion of civil rights for both Jews and Arabs, is dead.
Schocken was 78 and died Saturday at Shiba Hospital in Tel Aviv of what a Haaretz spokesman described as a “malignant disease” that had been diagnosed a year ago. The New York Times reported that he had been battling liver cancer.
Schocken was born in Zwickau, Germany, and was the eldest son of Shlomo Salman Schocken, a businessman and art collector who established the Schocken Publishing Houses.
He studied economics at Heidelberg University from 1932 to 1933. With the rise of the Nazis in 1933, he moved to Palestine, where he worked for the Anglo-Palestine Bank.
Schocken’s father bought Haaretz in 1937 and he became a business manager at the newspaper. Schocken was appointed editor in 1939 and held the post until his death. He also supervised a second daily newspaper and a group of weekly publications across Israel.
In 1955, Schocken was elected to Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, as a member of the Progressive Party.
Schocken was one of the founders of Itim, Israel’s national news agency, and he was named International Editor of the Year by the New York-based World Press Review in 1983.
He was cited for, among other things, his opposition to nearly every Israeli government, his constant battles for a free press, his penchant for peace in the Middle East and his opposition to what he said were violations of human rights in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Schocken is survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons. His funeral was held Sunday in Tel Aviv.