Zuckerman, Mortimer

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ZUCKERMAN, MORTIMER (1937– ), U.S. developer, publisher. Born in Quebec, Canada, Mortimer Benjamin Zuckerman earned law degrees from McGill University in Montreal and Harvard University and a master of business administration degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development before joining the old-line Boston firm of Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, where he revamped the firm's ailing California properties and assembled prime downtown Boston real estate, rising to a senior financial position at the firm. But Zuckerman found the atmosphere too stuffy and left, along with an associate, Edward H. Linde. The California properties became part of their severance package, and they gave Boston Properties, their new venture in 1970, the starting cash flow. Zuckerman also received $4 million from Cabot after a court suit. Boston Properties became active in real estate and developed more than 50 buildings. Zuckerman became a United States citizen in 1977. Three years later he bought The Atlantic Monthly magazine, called the spine of Boston's literary community, paying a reported $3.2 million for a faltering magazine with a splendid piece of real estate near the Public Garden. In 1981 Boston Properties shifted its focus to Washington, DC, and built more than 15 buildings, including the Democracy Project, an office complex in nearby Montgomery County, Md., in which Zuckerman's friend, Martin Peretz, publisher of The New Republic, and members of the Bronfman family had an interest. Boston Properties also constructed new headquarters for the magazine U.S. News and World Report, and in 1984 acquired the nationally distributed newsweekly, the third largest in the country, and half of its real estate. Although he had an editor, Zuckerman, as publisher, decided to write a weekly column for the magazine, showing a strong pro-Israel stance. In 1992, Zuckerman bought The New York Daily News, once the newspaper with the largest circulation in the country but a periodical that had seen a fall in advertising and circulation as the city's economy and demographics changed. Zuckerman cut costs at the newspaper, laying off staff members and frequently changing editors. At the same time Boston Properties won the sweepstakes to build one of the most coveted pieces of real estate in Manhattan, the Coliseum site at Columbus Circle, which eventually became headquarters for Time Warner. Zuckerman used his position as publisher of The Atlantic Monthly, U.S. News, and The Daily News to promote his views on the Middle East. After buying The Atlantic, he issued a ban on articles, that, in his estimation, "challenged Israel's right to exist." In U.S. News, he chastised the press for bias against Israel in the 2000 Al Aqsa/Temple Mount incident that triggered the second intifada, although his version of the events were later found to be incorrect. Zuckerman was friendly with many governmental officials and key journalists, including A.M. *Rosenthal, who published a profile of Zuckerman when he was executive editor of The New York Times but then printed an Editor's Note apologizing for aspersions made in the article about Zuckerman's character and ambitions. Later, after Rosenthal left The Times, he wrote his frequently pro-Israel column for The Daily News. Zuckerman was active in many Jewish organizations and served as honorary president of the American-Israel Friendship League. He was honored by the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish National Fund, among other organizations. In 2001 Zuckerman became chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an amalgam of 54 groups, becoming one of the foremost spokesmen for Jewish causes.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]