From the January 2000 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 47, No. 01)

Jacobo Timerman

Uncompromising Journalist

Tekla Szymanski, World Press Review associate editor

Jacobo Timerman, who died in November at the age of 76, was not only Argentina’s most influential journalist who stood up for press freedom and the right to know, writes Agence France-Presse, but “an ardent defender of human rights.” Timerman was the founder and publisher of two newspapers, Primera Plana and La Opinión, which, according to Madrid’s liberal El País, “revolutionized the practice of journalism” at the  time of the junta’s dirty war.” Timerman raised standards in Argentine journalism, and “used his liberal papers to write extensively about what he believed to be rampant government corruption,” writes David Rudge in the independent Jerusalem Post.

Timerman was imprisoned, tortured,  and held under house arrest for 30 months beginning in April 1977. Following intervention by Israel and the United States, he was expelled to Israel, where he proved to be equally uncompromising. He worked in New York, Madrid, and Tel Aviv, and returned to Argentina in 1984, where his testimony against former military leaders was instrumental in the prosecution of human-rights cases. Francesc Relea writes in El País that Timerman’s testimony “was one of the high points of the proceedings against the promoters of genocide.”

Timerman wrote several books in which “he unleashed furious criticism of Israeli expansion during the war in Lebanon,” writes Relea in El País, “or of the Pinochet dictatorship.”

One of the last people to spend time with Timerman was journalist Carlos Gambetta. “He had a powerful intellect,” Gambetta is quoted in El País. “There were two constants in his life: anti-fascism and his love for his wife.” Charles Ritterband, in Zurich’s liberal Neue Zürcher Zeitung, says that Timerman “was a rebellious critic, a gray eminence of Argentine journalism.”

In Buenos Aires’ leftist Página 12, Luis Bruschtein observes: “[He] was a powerful personality, polemical, passionate, and loved and hated equally by figures on both left and right. It can be said that in our midst, Timerman marked a before and an after.”

Copyright © 1997-2018 All Rights Reserved. - - Privacy Notice - Front Page