I received the sad news on Saturday night that a good man, brilliant journalist and major defender of Israel, David Twersky, had passed away of cancer on Friday evening. I first learned of David when in 1983, he wrote what was perhaps the single finest review of my book, The Rosenberg File, that had been published. David, coming from the political left, as I was when I co-authored the book, understood right away how important the book was, and what it meant for the mindset of the entire fellow-traveling left-wing.
Soon after I saw the review, I contacted David. I found out that he had just returned to the United States after living many years in Israel. Back in this country, he decided to make it his home again, and to devote his life to Jewish affairs, journalism, and working in this country on behalf of the labor Zionism that had been his calling, and to use his abilities to write on behalf of Israel.
Eventually, both Twersky and I about the same time moved from the New York City area to that of Washington, DC, where David became the Washington editor of The Forward, which the great editor Seth Lipsky started up as a weekly Jewish paper in English, carrying on the tradition of the old Yiddish Forward, the old social-democratic and deeply anti-Communist paper that once had a giant circulation in the 1930’s and 40’s, especially in the immigrant Jewish community in the metropolitan New York City area.
The entire story of Twersky’s accomplishments writing for the paper are to be found in the lovely editorial penned by Lipsky himself, the man who hired David and gave him the freedom to write as he pleased, and to develop scoop after scoop that all the mainstream papers were forced to cover after his reports were printed.
I was partially involved in one of his major scoops, that concerning Johnnetta Cole. Lipsky relates the story:
It was Twersky who first reported on concerns of the labor movement over President-elect Clinton’s decision to put at the head of his transition team in health, education and labor an educator with far-left connections.
Twersky’s sources were alarmed because the educator, Johnnetta Cole, while widely admired as president of Spellman College, had nonetheless once been on the national committee of the Venceremos Brigades, which brought young people to help harvest sugar in Castro’s Cuba and which, according to the New York Times, the FBI had maintained was connected with Cuban intelligence. She had also been on the national committee of the United States Peace Council, an affiliate of the World Peace Council, which was regarded by the FBI as a communist front. According to the Times, Twersky’s report started the furor that led to Ms. Cole being dropped from contention as secretary of education.
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