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In Appreciation: Donald Neff, 1930-2015

Don Neff would have seen the irony in this column coming right after an article on Count Bernadotte. For both men Jerusalem was a defining city.

Don had 20-plus years of journalistic experience when, in 1975, Time Magazine appointed him bureau chief in Jerusalem. By his own admission he arrived a Zionist. That changed the day he received a phone call saying Israeli troops were breaking the bones of Palestinian youth throughout the West Bank. 

Don went to Beit Jala, a Palestinian subdistrict of Bethlehem, five miles south of Jerusalem. What he saw there—and what he experienced when he filed his story—was the subject of his December 1995 Link “Epiphany at Beit Jala,” one of our most read feature articles. 

Don continued to write about the plight of the Palestinians. His books include his splendid trilogy: “Warriors at Suez: Eisenhower Takes America into the Middle East,” “Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days That Changed the Middle East,” and “Warriors Against Israel.” 

We at AMEU will remember Don for his integrity and courage. As will the Palestinians: in May 1979 he was made an honorary citizen of Bethlehem-Beit Jala. 

Don died on May 10. To the family members who survive him and to Janet McMahon, his companion of 15 years, we extend our condolences.

—John F. Mahoney