Haaretz lends respectability to strange bedfellows

Matti Golan

Leonid Nevzlin joins others basking in the glow of a quality newspaper's reputation.

Haaretz publisher and owner Amos Schocken is an enigma. He has brought two partners into the paper, both controversial, albeit for different reasons. One partner, Germany's Media Group M. DuMont Schauberg GmbH & Co., is owned by a family with a proven history of collaboration with the Nazi regime, which it loyally served. While the sins of the fathers should not be visited upon the sons, in the State of Israel, it is permissible and natural that this would cause some sensitivity.

The second partner, announced today by Haaretz Group, is Leonid Nevzlin. "Haaretz" styles him the "chairman of the board of trustees at Beit Hatfutsot - the Museum of the Jewish People" and mentions other honors. I did not see the word "oligarch".

Nevzlin has been convicted in Russia of murder and other serious crimes. His appeal was dismissed. Russia has asked for his extradition, and the case is not yet over. Nevzlin may be a victim of persecution, as he claims, but still…

What are such people looking for at "Haaretz"? Since the newspaper is not a paying business, the prevailing view is that these people seek to be identified with "Haaretz's" reputation as a respectable newspaper. In other words, something akin to laundering their past in exchange for their money - in the form of articles in "Haaretz", which makes a strong effort to make its new partners kosher.

The result is that "Haaretz" is now financed from three sources: a family with a Nazi past (20%); an oligarch who is a fugitive from Russian justice (20%); and gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, whose freesheet "Israel Today" is printed at the Haaretz printshop and distributed by it.

It is difficult to understand: Can't "Haaretz" find partners of another kind? Or is it Amos Schocken?

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 12, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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