Sidney Zion, who died earlier this month at age 75, didn’t start out to be a writer, and he might never have become one if not for the 1962-63 newspaper strike – the longest in the city’s history and one that affected all the local dailies.
In December 1962, Zion was a 29-year-old New Jersey lawyer. That month, he contributed a piece to a parody edition of the New York Post. The faux newspaper, called the New York Pest, sold well at otherwise empty newsstands.
The article mimicked the style of legendary columnist Murray Kempton, and Post publisher Dorothy Schiff, far from being offended, offered Zion a job at the real paper.
Zion would spend the rest of his life as a journalist – first as a reporter with the Post and then The New York Times, and later as a prolific freelance contributor to a wide array of publications and a columnist for the New York Post and the New York Daily News.
Too much the iconoclast to pigeonhole politically, Zion nevertheless was a man whose instincts inclined leftward on most issues. But – and here is the great anomaly – on the Middle East he was virtually alone among secular journalists in proclaiming a historical narrative that was long the purview of Revisionist Zionists and anathema to mainstream Jewish liberals – namely, that it was the Irgun that blew the British out of Palestine while Ben-Gurion’s Jewish Agency worked with the occupiers.
"Leave it to my Jews," Zion wrote upon the election of Menachem Begin in 1977. "They make a revolution and twenty-nine years later the leader of the revolution comes to power. First the collaborators, then the revolutionaries. The Hebrews don’t just learn it backwards, they do it backwards…."
"Luke Ford reports all of the 'juicy' quotes, and has been doing it for years." (Marc B. Shapiro)
"This guy knows all the gossip, the ins and outs, the lashon hara of the Orthodox world. He’s an [expert] in... all the inner workings of the Orthodox world." (Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff)
"This generation's Hillel." (Nathan Cofnas)