MOZES


MOZES, family of Israeli press magnates. The Mozes family played a major role in the Israeli press in the second half of the 20th century. From its flagship daily newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, through its subsidiary enterprises including a chain of local newspapers, women's and other special interest magazines, publishing and printing interests, and shares in Israel's Channel 2, the Mozes family had by the 1990s become the country's biggest media moguls.

In 1940, a small newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, founded the previous year as one of the country's few independent evening newspapers, had been acquired by ALEXANDER MOZES, a printer, from the newspaper's founder Nahum Komerov. While Alexander took charge of printing the paper, his father YEHUDAH MOZES (b. 1886), a textile entrepreneur and businessman, took charge of the newspaper's editorial operations, together with his son, NOAH (1912–1986), an agronomist. It consisted of some two pages each day, and had a circulation of 30,000. The paper failed financially in its early years, and in 1949 was forced to sell half of its shares to *Mapai. Its biggest crisis occurred in February 1948 when its editor, Dr. Azriel *Carlebach, together with most of its editorial staff as well as some of the printing and administrative workers, left the newspaper overnight – ostensibly upset over Yehudah Mozes' intervention in day-to-day editorial matters – and founded the rival Maariv newspaper. Rebuilding the paper, Yehudah Mozes appointed his cousin Dov *Yudkovsky as news editor and Dr. Herzl *Rosenblum as editor, whose responsibilities comprised the editorial column and the op-ed pages. Yudkovsky conceived the newspaper as "the people's newspaper": despite its popular tabloid appearance, it also carried editorial matter of interest to readers from the professional classes. With the death of Yehudah in 1955, Noah Mozes became the publisher. It took Yedioth Aharonoth until the late 1970s to overtake Maariv as Israel's biggest-selling newspaper. By 2005 42% of Israelis read the newspaper daily, and 54% its Friday weekend edition, according to a Teleseker survey. In the 1980s the newspaper entered the local newspaper market, developing local weekly newspapers (sold as supplements to the Friday paper) in key Israeli towns, exploiting the local advertising market.

The newspaper's corporate setup is characterized by a highly centralized structure in which company shares are divided between 100 basic shares and 1,400 regular shares. With only the family owning the basic shares, and an in-built clause that the company directors are determined only by the holders of the basic shares, it generated resentment among the regular shareholders, particular after Noah died in 1986 in a traffic accident and his son, ARNON ("Noni"; 1953– ), an economics graduate from Tel Aviv University, replaced him as publisher.

Since the mid-1980s the newspaper's senior management was characterized by family in-fighting and court hearings as "Noni" Mozes sought to centralize control. In 1989 Yudkovsky was dismissed, and moved to Maariv, where he was appointed editor. While Ze'ev Mozes, the paper's co-director whose responsibilities included manpower, was initially allied with "Noni" Mozes – based on a 1986 agreement that the two men would share the two-man directorship of the newspaper for a 20-year period – he was subsequently eased out and sold his shares in 1997 to Eliezer Fishman and Haim Bar-On (the owners of the Globes financial newspaper). Ze'ev, who was Noah's nephew and Yehudah's grandson, was also responsible for moving the newspaper's printing press from the newspaper's editorial offices in Tel Aviv to a bigger site in Rishon le-Zion. Oded Mozes, son of Alexander, had been eased out years earlier when Noah Mozes set up a separate printing press, named after his son Gilad, killed in a traffic accident, to print the newspaper.

When Paula Mozes, Noah's widow, died in 1997, she bequeathed all her shares to her son, Noni, asking her two daughters, Judy Shalom-Mozes, wife of the Likud MK and former foreign minister Silvan *Shalom, and Tami-Mozes-Borowitz, to give their brother power of attorney to administer the newspaper. In building a coalition, Noni initially gave Tami management of Yediot Tikshoret, the sister company comprising the chain of local newspapers and magazines, as well as Yedioth Aharonoth's share in the Channel 2 subsidiary, Reshet. But she sold her shares to Fishman and Bar-On in 1998. Noni Mozes received a setback in 1997 when the Israeli courts acceded to a petition to broaden the structure of the paper's directorship from two to five members.

After Yudkovky's departure from the paper in 1989, Moshe *Vardi, a managing editor, and Rozenblum's son, was appointed in his place. Vardi possessed an uncanny ability for identifying news stories and for news writing. This helped the paper maintain the lead which Yudkovsky had managed to bring about in the cirulation war with Maariv. In the mid-1990s the newspaper was embroiled in an affair involving mutual wiretapping among partners and editors of Maariv and Yedioth Aharonoth. Yedioth Aharonoth's assignments editor, Ruth Ben-Ari, was charged with wiretapping Maariv boss Ofer Nimrodi, and its editor Dov Yudkovsky. Though subsequently cleared, Vardi, suspended himself from the editorship during the two year trial. During this period Alon Shalev, a news executive on Channel 2, was appointed editor. Vardi was subsequently reinstated, holding the post until his retirement in 2004. Rafi Ginat, an Israel television reporter who edited and presented the investigative Kolbotek consumer program, replaced him.

In 2000 the newspaper created its website, Y-Net, with its own separate reporting staff. In 2005 it had 3.3 million users monthly.

The Yedioth Aharonoth group was valued in 1997 at around $450 million. In addition to the daily newspaper, the group's properties included 17 local newspapers, a woman's magazine and shares in another, a number of special interest magazines, a Russian-language daily newspaper, three publishing houses, shares in the Channel 2 subsidiary Reshet, two printing presses, and two modeling agencies. Noni Mozes' share alone was valued in 2004 at $200 million. Concerned at the power of Yedioth Aharonoth, and of other newspaper chains, with the perceived threat to freedom of the press, the Monopolies Commission allowed Yedioth Aharonoth to purchase no more than 24% of the shares of Reshet.

[Yoel Cohen (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.