By Zvi Loker
Dr. iur. FRANCIS AMIR OFNER, journalist, born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, 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 mile-stones of Israel's history.
In the early 1960s, Ofner occupied the post of press counselor at the Israel Embassy, Washing-ton, 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.
Additional biographical notes
POSITIONS IN MASS MEDIA (1945-85)
Correspondent, analyst, commentator of:
The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, Mass., USA),
The Observer (London, UK),
Die Welt (Bonn, Germany),
Baseler Zeitung (Switzerland),
The Jewish Chronicle (London, UK), International News Service (New York, USA)
The Jerusalem Post, Deputy Editor; L’Information d’Israel, Editor-in-chief;
Kol Israel, Israel Broadcasting Authority, International Affairs Commentator
Published in over 300 newspapers around the globe. Professional trips in 38 countries on four continents.
Lecturer on Development of Mass Media (1957-84), University of Tel Aviv, Israel
Guest lectures at a number of USA and German universities (incl. Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, Roosevelt, Bonn etc.)
Shortcomings of Mass Media – lectures and research (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Bonn, Geneva, Berlin, London)
Israel Embassy, Washington D.C., USA – Press Counselor, 1960-61.
Israel Mission to the U.N. – Counselor, 1961-62.
CIVIC AND PUBLIC ACTIVITIES
In international sphere
Participated in the preparations for the overthrow of the pro-Hitler Government in Belgrade (1941) – the event witch brought Yugoslavia to the Allied side in World War II.
Co-Founder of the International Rescue and Relief Committee in Istanbul, Turkey, 1943-45 (sponsored by the American Federation of Labor).
Founding President of the Foreign Press Association in Israel, 1957-58.
Deputy Chairman of the Israel-German Society since 1980.
Jewish and Zionist activities
Initiated merger of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Students Associations (Judea and Esperanza) into united Zionist Students Club, University of Zagreb, Yugoslavia, and served as its first president 1932-33.
Active in organizing illegal immigration of Jewish refugees form nazi-occupied Europe into British-ruled Palestine (as Natziv Betar of Yugoslavia 1939-41).
Consultant on foreign information, Histadrut Executive, International Department, 1955-60.
Co-winner of the USA Freedom Award 1950.
Order of Merit First Class, Federal Republic of Germany 1982.
Citation of Merit in the Diaspora, World Zionist Organization 1986.
Some 3.500 articles in mass media around the world.
Contributions to books published in the USA, Israel, Germany, and UK.
Doctor iuris, University of Zagreb, 1937.
Previous studies at the University of Besancon, France, and Lausanne, Switzerland.