Ofner, Francis-Amir

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OFNER, FRANCIS-AMIR (1913– ), journalist. Born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, he studied law at Besançon, Lausanne and Zagreb (where he obtained the degree of Juris Doctor in 1938). During 1940–41 he was active in the Yugoslav Zionist-Revisionist movement, acting as Netziv Betar (lit. commissioner, i.e., head of the Berit Trumpeldor youth organization). His endeavors at that time included the fostering of illegal immigration of Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe to Palestine across the Danube.

During 1942–45, he worked in Istanbul at the U.S. Office of War Information, in the capacity of Balkan press liaison officer. Settling in Tel Aviv in September 1945, he started a productive career in international journalism. He worked mainly for the Christian Science Monitor of Boston and for the London Observer (writing a column syndicated in 300 newspapers). He contributed articles to the German and Swiss press; also to the International News Service, New York. In Israel, he contributed to the Jerusalem Post and to L'Information; in later years, he acted as senior lecturer on international media at Tel Aviv University. He founded, and for a while chaired, the Foreign Correspondents Association in Israel. He covered major milestones of Israel's history.

In the early 1960s, Ofner occupied the post of press counselor at the Israel Embassy, Washington, d.c. and the Israeli delegation to the United Nations, New York.

On professional missions he traveled to many countries, interviewing leading statesmen, such as the Shah of Iran, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, King Hassan of Morocco, and David Ben-Gurion.

Ofner acted as vice chairman of the Israel-German Friendship Society and as Middle East consultant to the Alex Springer Foundation, Berlin and Hamburg.

[Zvi Loker (2nd ed.)]