Dan Margalit: Israeli Journalist, Commentator, and Television Presenter
Dan Margalit's career as a journalist, commentator, and television presenter has left an indelible mark on Israeli media and politics. His diverse experiences, from the Dollar Account scandal to his influential television programs and evolving political perspectives, reflect a career filled with both accomplishment and controversy.
Early Life and Education
Margalit attended the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium in Tel Aviv and later graduated with honors in Jewish history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1985. His early foray into journalism was marked by contributions to the newspaper "Harot." However, his career gained momentum during his tenure at "Haaretz" from 1964 to 1991, where he became a prominent figure in Israeli journalism.
In 1968-1969, Margalit was a member and spokesperson for the "Movement for Moshe Dayan," an initiative aimed at promoting Moshe Dayan's candidacy for the Israeli prime ministership.
The Dollar Account Scandal
Margalit's fame soared in 1977 when, serving as the Washington correspondent for "Haaretz," he exposed the Dollar Account scandal. This revelation uncovered that Israel's then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had maintained a bank account in the United States, contrary to foreign currency regulations at the time. The rumor of this account reached the ears of Eliora Margalit, Dan's wife, during a cocktail party at the Israeli embassy, and Dan Margalit confirmed it through an investigation at the bank. The exposé led to Rabin's resignation and the appointment of Shimon Peres as the Labor Party's candidate for prime minister.
Margalit became a familiar face on Israeli television when he joined the program "Erev Hadash" (New Evening) in 1982, which later became "HaErev HaChadash" (The New Evening) after the closure of the Broadcasting Authority in 2017. The show evolved into a well-known political interview program, and Margalit became closely associated with it. "Erev Hadash" aired from Sunday to Thursday at 4:59 PM on the Educational Television channel and Channel 1. In March 1989, Margalit's Jerusalem apartment door was set on fire shortly after he interviewed Faisal Husseini, and an organization called "The Squirts" claimed responsibility.
In 1992, Margalit was appointed editor of the "Maariv" newspaper by Ofer Nimrodi, but he resigned after only six months, alleging interference in his editorial decisions by the Nimrodi family, who were accused of pursuing their commercial interests. In 1996, he moderated the televised debates between the candidates for prime minister in that year's elections, and the outcome of these debates was seen as favoring Benjamin Netanyahu, who eventually won the election.
Throughout the 1990s, Margalit hosted the program "Politika" (Politics) on Israeli television, which later evolved into a similar show on Channel 2. "Politika" had a significant impact, and many attribute the political success of Yair Lapid, who was a central panelist on the show, to his appearances there.
Shift in Political Stance
Margalit's political stance, as reflected in his writing, evolved from left-center to security-oriented over the years. He was an outspoken advocate for the establishment of the separation barrier during a period when it was a subject of controversy in Israeli politics and security matters. For most of his career as a journalist, he maintained a close personal relationship with Ehud Olmert. However, after the Second Lebanon War, their personal relations soured, and Margalit became one of Olmert's harshest critics. Since joining "Israel Hayom" in 2007, Margalit's views have leaned more to the right, aligning with the newspaper's guiding ideology.
Change in Perspective: "The Awakening"
Between 2007 and 2009, Margalit underwent a significant change in his political views, which he discusses in his book "The Awakening." He renounced his previous support for the unilateral disengagement plan and declared that he would never again support such a one-sided process. However, he remained skeptical about the possibility of a near-term comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians due to their refusal to compromise.
Television Show "HaErev HaChadash"
From June 4, 2017, until its closure in August 2018, Margalit hosted the television show "HaErev HaChadash" (The New Evening) on Educational Television. This was a shorter and earlier version of the program "Erev Hadash."
Controversy and Departure from "Israel Hayom" and "Haaretz"
In June 2017, Margalit was fired from "Israel Hayom" by its editor, Boaz Bismuth, who claimed it was due to budget cuts. Margalit responded on his Twitter account, stating that "freedom of speech has fallen victim." Subsequently, he returned to "Haaretz" and began publishing opinion pieces there.
In October 2018, journalist Ravit Hecht published an investigation in "Haaretz" that accused Margalit of sexual misconduct with four women, including Hana Kim. Margalit denied the allegations. Three other women subsequently came forward, including journalist Orly Azoulay, alleging sexual harassment by Margalit. In the wake of these accusations, Margalit resigned from "Haaretz."
Margalit was married to Eliora (Luci), and they had three daughters: Keren Margalit, a television director and screenwriter; Shira Margalit, who served as the deputy CEO of Reshet 2 and was married to Major General Aharon Chalhi; and Noa. After his divorce, Margalit married Professor Dana Margalit, who is the head of the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology at Ariel University.
After living for many years in Savyon, Margalit relocated to the Tzahala neighborhood in northern Tel Aviv, close to his daughter Shira.
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