When his daily news summaries suddenly stopped a few weeks ago, I knew that something was up. I had come to rely upon Robert Rosenberg’s amazing facility for summing up each day’s important events in Israel’s political scene, and for doing so every working day. I was happy to occasionally post – in whole or in part – his “Today’s Situation” column. The last one I used was on August 18. The honors have been pouring in on this remarkable life, cut short from cancer at 54. – Ralph Seliger
From Eric Lee, a one-time American oleh and a friend of Meretz USA:
Back in 1996, I began writing a weekly blog (before there were such things…) called BibiWATCH. That was how I met Robert Rosenberg.
Robert had created one of the first websites devoted to peace in the Middle East – Ariga http://ariga.com/ – a year earlier, in 1995. He was a big fan of what I was doing to Netanyahu week after week, and the admiration was mutual….
Later, Robert would host BibiWATCH on [his] Ariga site – for free.
We got together, sipped espresso in an outdoor cafe in his beloved Tel-Aviv, spent a weekend shmoozing at my kibbutz Ein Dor, and stayed in touch pretty regularly until I moved to London in 1998….
Robert was a character. A former crime writer, he went on to write a number of crime novels based in Israel….
And from Ami Isseroff, who is engaged in a similar effort to Robert’s:
…. In addition to his illustrious career as a journalist, Robert blazed the way for Israeli peace activism on the web with Ariga for peace,(http://www.ariga.com/peace). He was generous enough to host Web pages of other people and organizations, include that the PEACE group which preceded MidEastWeb (see PeaceWatch). Robert was a founding member of MidEastWeb for Coexistence, and Ariga was the major inspiration for MidEastWeb.
Almost to the end, Robert edited a daily news summary that reflected his genius at singling out the important events of the day, as well as his unique view of the Middle East.
In Haaretz, David Landau, currently editor in Chief of Haaretz and formerly editor of the Haaretz English edition wrote:
Many, many were the nights when without Robert this paper would not have come out. Or at any rate, that is how it most certainly seemed to us, his colleagues at Haaretz English Edition, as we squeaked past another after-midnight deadline with reams and reams of raw Haaretz copy all somehow translated, edited, page-set and sent to press.
His output was truly phenomenal. His capacity vast; his knowledge encyclopedic. Uncomplaining, with breathtaking speed, with unfailing good grace, he would wade through troughs of dense prose, written to fill whole pages of Hebrew newsprint, and emerge with a succinct, coherent story often capped with a cute or sardonic headline for good measure.
The man was a joy to have around. He was a relief to have around – because you knew that with him the inevitable nightly crises would somehow be resolved. He was often a headache to have around, because, while doing his speed-reading, speed-writing, speed headline-composing and speed-laying-out he would be treating all those within earshot to a cheery, incessant, unquenchable patter of opinion. Sometimes it was about the story in hand. But often it would be about something completely different – which made his expeditious progress on the text all the more amazing. He liked to have the television blaring in the background, too – usually about still another subject. Robert, who was a decade ahead of his time on the Internet, was the consummate multitasker before the rest of us had heard of the concept….
But above all, and at this moment of hesed shel emet when only the truth should be written, it is Robert Rosenberg’s good-heartedness that deserves words of praise and admiration. For more than 30 years I would hear him criticizing the whole world. But I never heard him say a bad word to anyone….
Robert’s pioneering work in Ariga were generally studiously and deliberately ignored by Israeli media and “big time” peace organizations, even by some whom he had helped along the way. His death is a great loss to the cause of peace, to Israel and to the Middle East, as well as a personal loss for me.
Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to email@example.com.
This is just in from Hillel Schenker:
I share with Ami the shock at the passing of Robert Rosenberg. He was clearly “one of us,” part of the broader community of creative progressives born in the English- speaking world, who became rooted in the Israeli and Tel Aviv reality/ scene.
A real rennaisance man with a zest for life, it’s hard to believe that he’s gone. He was using e-mail and creating websites before many of us knew they existed.
He created the Ariga website ll years ago for Pleasure and Peace, what a wonderful combination), and as Ami says was a mentor for all of us who are active in the field. I had a number of valuable conversations with him in which he served as an advisor/consultant on how to do things.
He was a fixture at Cafe Tamar, peace rallies and the infrequent Meretz public gatherings at Hangar ll in the Tel Aviv port (“notice how the prettiest girls are on the left?!” he would say). He even wrote four detective novels, and in recent years was apparently an invaluable resource at English Haaretz – editor David Landau wrote an extremely moving piece about him in yesterday’s paper.
I spent four hours yesterday at his home, whose walls are filled with the art of his wife Sylvia. People from the various crossroads of his life gathered together, to mourn, console, in his spirit. The wine, the jokes, the reminicenses of Woodstock and the barbed comments about the current Israeli reality flowed forth.
And it was amazing to see the group on-the-spot effort to update the Ariga website with relevant material about Robert. As Sylvia said, it wasn’t supposed to be that way. It was supposed to last for a much longer time.
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