JERUSALEM — David Landau, a prominent British-Israeli reporter, newspaper editor and author who practiced an unusual mix of religious Orthodoxy, ardent Zionism and leftist politics, died on Tuesday at a hospital here. He was 67.
He had been ill since April 2013, when an inoperable brain tumor was discovered, said his wife, Jackie, who confirmed the death.
Mr. Landau was the first Israeli reporter to interview President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, in 1978. His last major work was a biography of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel that received positive reviews and whose publication happened to coincide with Sharon’s death last January.
In between, Mr. Landau was the founding editor of the English edition ofHaaretz, the left-leaning Israeli daily, which became a prime source on the Middle East for policy makers and others abroad; Haaretz’s overall editor in chief for four years; diplomatic correspondent and managing editor at The Jerusalem Post, where he worked for 20 years; and The Economist’s longtime Israel correspondent.
He left The Post in 1990, leading a walkout of 40 employees to protest a new owner’s political intervention in news coverage, and in 2007 caused a stir by telling Condoleezza Rice, then the secretary of state, that Israel needed to be “raped” by the United States in order to force progress in peace talks with the Palestinians.
President Reuven Rivlin of Israel, a conservative whose ideology differs sharply from Mr. Landau’s, said on Tuesday that Mr. Landau had been “an uncompromising friend and an equally uncompromising adversary.” Mr. Rivlin’s predecessor, Shimon Peres, with whom Mr. Landau wrote two books, described him as “a rare combination of an individual — religious in depth and liberal in breadth” and someone “not frightened of the truth.”
Mr. Landau succeeded in secular circles while wearing the black yarmulke of the Orthodox. The reporter Greer Fay Cashman recalled in Wednesday’s Jerusalem Post that during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Mr. Landau demanded that a press van heading for the Suez Canal stop so that he could put on ritual garments and recite morning prayers.
After his exclusive interview with Sadat, a year before the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Mr. Landau recited a little-known Jewish blessing upon meeting a monarch.
Gideon Levy, a Haaretz columnist, wrote that he had “never met a person as full of contradictions” as Mr. Landau.
Maurice David Landau was born in London on June 22, 1947. As a boy he phoned local newspapers with details of road accidents, earning 10 shillings per tip, Haaretz wrote in its obituary. He was studying in an Israeli yeshiva when the 1967 war broke out and volunteered at The Jerusalem Post. After earning a law degree at University College in London, he immigrated to Israel in 1970.
Besides his wife of 45 years, he is survived by a son, Dan; two daughters, Emuna Landau and Chani Landau Philipps; eight grandchildren; and a brother, Pinchas.
In his home study hung portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and a legendary Hasidic rabbi, as well as a photo of Mr. Landau with Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader. Last spring, deep into his illness, the queen named him an officer of the Order of the British Empire to honor his work for Anglo-Israeli relations and Middle East peace.
In its review of his 635-page biography “Arik: The Life of Ariel Sharon,” The Financial Times said it “promises to become the definitive account” of Mr. Sharon’s career. Writing in The New York Times Book Review, Ethan Bronner, a former Jerusalem bureau chief for The Times, found the book “fine, comprehensive and readable” but faulted it as failing to “really unlock the mystery to Sharon’s shifts or give a fully coherent picture of his inner self.”
Amos Schocken, the publisher of Haaretz, was quoted as saying in his paper’s obituary that Mr. Landau had initially demurred when offered the job of editor in chief; he explained that he was not a native Israeli and had a different “attitude toward religion” than the organization’s management and staff, Mr. Schocken said.
But after being persuaded to take the position, Mr. Schocken said, “David made an enormous contribution to the paper as an enlightened Zionist intellectual, a liberal in the full sense of the word and a believing Jew, and he demonstrated that there is no inherent contradiction in these things.”