History of International Newspapers: Ha'aretz in Israel

About the International newspaper Ha'aretz published in Israel, history and information.

HA'ARETZ (Tel Aviv, Israel)

The Past. Ha'aretz, whose name means "The Land," is the oldest newspaper in Israel, started in Tel Aviv in 1919 when there were only 50,000 Hebrew-speaking people in Palestine. One of its 1st journalists was Gershon Agronsky, who had been brought to the U.S. by his parents when he was a boy, joined the Jewish Correspondents' Bureau in New York, then left to enlist in the Jewish Legion of 1917. Committed to the idea of a national Jewish home in Palestine, he returned to Jerusalem after W. W. I. There he served as a one-man correspondence bureau for American and British papers and became involved in the founding of Ha'aretz.

In the early days, news reached the paper slowly, usually a day or so late, on the train from Cairo. In 1929, the Reuters news agency began to serve Ha'aretz so that the news it printed was a little less stale.

With the mass influx of people into Palestine before and after W. W. II and with the establishment of Israeli independence in 1948, the paper began to prosper.

The Present. Ha'aretz is one of the few quality papers in the Middle East. It bills itself as "independent liberal." Unlike other papers in Israel, most of which are controlled by labor unions, political parties, or other agencies, Ha'aretz is able to maintain a true independent stance. It is very difficult to predict its position on government policies; its editors decide each issue separately. Generally, however, it supports the Government on economic matters but not on issues of defense and national security. It favors better treatment of the Arabs, the conservation of natural resources, national beautification, and the separation of Church and State.

The paper is staid. Other Israeli papers are more colorful, but Ha'aretz will not sacrifice quality and accuracy for color. Its editorials are calm and reasoned, never premature.

Aimed at businessmen and intellectuals, Ha'aretz emphasizes foreign news, which it receives from its correspondents and from news agencies. Its interpretive reports on economics and parliamentary issues are carefully read and taken seriously by influential Israelis.

Ha'aretz also emphasizes literature with a Friday literary section and by printing poetry and fiction by leading Israeli writers. On Friday it relaxes its scholarly position a little by putting out an illustrated magazine which features human interest stories, fashion, sports, crime, and other popular topics.

Generally speaking, Ha'aretz hires reporters for their native ability rather than their academic training or newspaper experience.

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