Doʼar ha-yom - דאר היום
About this newspaper
The first issue of Doʼar ha-yom was published on 08 August 1919. The newspaper was established by Itamar Ben Avi (1882-1943) and his father Eliʿezer Ben-Yehudah (1858-1922). An editorial in the first issue announced: ‘The time has arrived, even in the young Land of Israel, and particularly for the growing children of this country, [for them] to go out into the world with their aspirations and their demands… We are free spirits for whom the Diaspora has waited for one thousand eight hundred and fifty years. We are the young Hebrews about whom its poets composed verse and wrote its books… We are people of the Orient aspiring to remain with what we have and no matter what happens… [We are] people of the Orient as were our forefathers before us and as will surely be our sons tomorrow… and [we are] people of the West—despite all of that… our hearts yearn for enlightenment and progress… Give us electricity and lamps, give us the airplane and the wireless’.
Ben Avi, the editor, who previously participated in the editing of his father’s newspapers, sought to establish a new daily that would reflect the light-hearted spirit of the popular press of Western Europe (especially France), where he had lived for some years, and would provide sensational news, serial novels, and poetry. Thus, the new journal brought about a complex and surprising amalgam of the Hebrew journalistic tradition characteristic of Ben-Yehudah and the sensationalist ‘yellow press’ journalism, and, together with them, a Palestinian (Eretz Israel) ‘native’ independent perspective.
The name of the journal was a translation of the well-known British newspaper, the Daily Mail, which was considered popular (and in English, Ben Avi’s newspaper was called the Palestinian Daily Mail). Those who joined Ben Avi in establishing the paper were primarily native-born residents of Palestine, who felt that the newspaper Ha-Arets was too conservative in its editing and subject to Russian influence. Doar Hayom reported news from Jerusalem and the major cities, the settlements, and also affairs taking place in the various Jewish diasporæ and in the institutions of the Zionist movement, and, through various news agencies, about what took place around the globe, in Europe, in the Arab world, and in the United States. The literary supplement of the newspaper was edited by, among others, Avigdor ha-Meʾiri (1890-1970). The newspaper appeared continuously from August 1919 to June 1936.
Doʼar ha-yom became a morning newspaper in 1925, in order to differentiate itself from Ha-Arets, which appeared in the afternoons. In 1928, the price of the paper was reduced to half a penny (grush), in order to compete with Ha-Arets and Davar, which then cost one penny. The newspaper reached its peak circulation with seven thousand copies in December 1928, a distribution that made it the most popular newspaper in Palestine. Ben Avi used the newspaper in order to infiltrate and disseminate his linguistic innovations, such as ‘pickpocket’ (Heb. kayyas), ‘automobile’ (Heb. mekhonit), and ‘independence’ (Heb. ʿatsmaʾut). The journalist Uri Qeysari introduced for the first time the term tsabbar in its positive sense of a ‘native-born Israeli’ in the pages of Doʼar ha-yom. The following sentence appeared at the start of the newspaper in December 1922: ‘Eliʿezer Ben-Yehudah says: Speak Hebrew and you will be healed’.
In the mindset of Ben Avi, the newspaper was intended to be the mouthpiece of the native-born Palestinians, members of the second generation of the First ʿAliyyah and the members of the veteran Sephardi families. The newspaper was right-wing with respect to economic and political affairs, and stood against the growing socialistic hegemony in the Jewish population. The newspaper stood to the right of the interests of the citrus growers in the villages and the merchants and the building contractors in the cities, and advocated the cantonisation of Palestine and its division between Jews and Arabs. The journal criticised heavily the leaders of the Zionist movement, such as Arthur Ruppin (1876-1943) and Menaḥem Ussishkin (1863-1941), and surveyed critically the institutions of the Zionist movement. Until 1928, it was among the only newspapers unaffiliated with a political party.
News that appeared on the front page carried dramatic headlines, full of pathos, in large fonts, together with subtitles. The newspaper published photographs on its front page, and surveyed in depth incidents of burglary and murder, earthquakes and floods, accidents, sport, and gossip. The tendencies of Doar Hayom dragged it into not a few fierce polemics: Moshe Gluckson (1878-1939) accused Doʼar ha-yom in the pages of Ha-Po’eel Ha-Tsa’air of being a ‘yellow’ paper, and argued that the newspaper ‘is from day to day increasingly damaging our national and cultural consciousness’. In March 1921, an editorial in Ha-Arets claimed that Doar Hayom ‘is undermining more each day all of [our] construction efforts and our [national] revival’. Ben Avi responded to this with defiance in writing: ‘Ha-Arets is perhaps decent, but it is not a newspaper, while Doʼar ha-yom is not a decent newspaper—but it is a newspaper’.
In December 1928, Ben Avi transferred the editorship to his friend Zeʾev Jaboṭinsky (1880-1940), in a lease contract. Jaboṭinsky changed the newspaper from a commercial one to a political one, and the content became more serious; although, at the beginning, there took place an increase in its circulation, after a short whole, the change in style brought about a reduction in its distribution. In July 1929, Jaboṭinsky left Palestine, and although he did not return to edit the newspaper, his name continued to appear as the chief editor. Jaboṭinsky transferred the editing position to Shlomo Gepstein (1892-1961), but three other individuals took control of the editing: Abba Aḥimeʾir (1897-1962), Wolfgang von Wiesl (1896-1974), and Yehoshuʿa Yevin (1891-1970). The three of them were more extreme in their political views than Jaboṭinsky and they revived the sensationalist style, this time for ideological goals. Abba Aḥimeʾir published during this time a column entitled, ‘From the notebook of a fascist (mi-pinqaso shel fashisṭan)’.
When the two-year contract expired in January 1931, Ben Avi sought to return the newspaper to its commercial format. The members of the Revisionist movement refused to return the editorship to Ben Avi, and only after a violent confrontation did they relinquish their hold on the newspaper’s editorial staff. The first issue following the return of Ben Avi to his position as chief editor of the newspaper appeared on 22 February 1931. According to Ben Avi, the journal returned to a circulation of about five thousand copies a day, but the newspaper fell into financial straits. In July 1933, Ben Avi quit as editor of Doʼar ha-yom.
Following the departure of Ben Avi, Shlomo Perlman and Pesaḥ Ginzburg (1894-1947) became the newspaper’s editors. When, Perlman left his position, Ginzburg became the sole editor. The political and social orientation of Doʼar ha-yom during this time was towards the urban middle class and members of the veteran settlements, and the style alternated from the sensational to the humourless and serious. The newspaper saw additional declines in its circulation. In 1935, the newspaper merged with Ha-Boqer, a General Zionist daily, which was of a similar ideological bent, but the merger failed. During the same year, Leo Wintz, a German Jewish publisher, purchased the newspaper. He transferred the editorial staff to Tel-Aviv, but in April 1936, after only one month, in the wake of the Great Arab Rebellion, the newspaper’s offices returned to Jerusalem.
In June 1936, the newspaper closed, after the owner of its printing press and the paper sellers refused to supply it anymore, owing to its debts. The last issues of the newspaper were distributed together with the journal Ḥadashot aḥaronot, which was established by the members of the staff of Doʼar ha-yom. Following the shutting of the paper, its rights remained in the hands of Leo Wintz, and, in January 1940, he tried to republish Doar Hayom in a limited format for a month, but closed the journal again following its lack of success.