The Times of Israel represents a determined effort, by a team of skilled, committed journalists, to report Israel, the region and the Jewish world accurately and engagingly.

Our independence means we have no affiliation to any political figure or party. My capital partner, Seth Klarman, is backing this project while taking no role whatsoever in its editorial operation.

We aim to carry content that is fresh, fascinating, entertaining. But that’s not all.

I happen to think that we Jews, in this one country where we’re a majority, can be our own worst enemies – spectacularly intolerant of one another, in ways we would never tolerate in Jewish communities overseas. We undermined our two previous attempts at sovereignty millennia ago, through internal hatreds; we’ve murdered our own prime minister this time; we suffer streams of Judaism furiously at odds with each other. We argue bitterly, incessantly, over the best means to safeguard the well-being of the Jewish state and the Jewish nation worldwide.

Fair-minded journalism, based in Israel, and read both here in Israel and among those who care for the Jewish nation around the world, has a vital, even noble role to play in enabling informed debate over the challenges and the choices that face the Jewish state. Informing that debate is one of the prime goals of The Times of Israel.

In support of this goal, our reporters, including many of the most respected names in the field, will be writing rich and enthralling original content. Our “breaking news” editors will be keeping readers up to speed on latest developments. We’ll constantly draw our readers’ attention to other compelling material elsewhere on the web. We’ll also be carrying a daily Hebrew media review and a daily Arabic media review – a guided tour around the headlines and most interesting content in the Hebrew and Arabic press. The aim again, quite simply, is to contribute to a well-rounded picture of our fast-changing, unpredictable regional environment.

Our Ops & Blogs section – our “marketplace of ideas” – is already attracting a colorful cast of writers on a remarkable range of themes – from flip to existential. Diversity is the key. Access to a diverse range of argument is critical to the understanding of Israel’s challenges and choices. And given our aim of fostering constructive debate, we will not host anonymous reader comments that can reduce discussion to toxic lows. We absolutely want our readers to debate the content on our site, but they – you — can post comments only via your Facebook identity, in your own name.

The Times of Israel will also showcase a richer, livelier mix of content than the traditional default focus on the politi, medini, bit’honi – politics, diplomacy and security. Obviously, often, those issues must dominate our headlines. But often, indeed always, there are extraordinary stories to be told from other spheres — of the people, the brainpower, the culture and lifestyle of this land. And we’ll tell them – high on the site, too, not relegated deep in inside pages.

We also want to better engage Jews the world over – those who feel a deep attachment to Israel, and those whose Jewish identity finds expression in other areas. Our Jewish Times coverage will highlight news, personalities, trends and more from communities everywhere. Our Jewish Planet section will offer a gradually expanding city-by-city guide – where to eat, what to see, and more – from the Jewish tourist’s perspective. And our small but prominent Calendar feature will highlight major events around the Jewish world each day, week, and further ahead.

The combined effect of those aspects of our coverage is to emphasize the interconnectedness of the Jewish people worldwide, and give all of them, all of us, an Internet meeting place – a must-read, must-visit current affairs website for the Jewish people. The Times of Israel.

An elegant, easy-to-use site

Late last summer, I spent a few weeks in Tel Aviv meeting with the representatives of various companies that build websites.
There’s no shortage of such companies worldwide, and least of all in tech-savvy Tel Aviv. But there aren’t all that many firms that both build websites and understand the demands of journalism.

I met with all kinds of very likeable, highly professional people, who listened to what I said I wanted this site to do, asked questions, nodded, took copious notes. Some of them came back to me soon afterwards with financial estimates and timetables. Only one of them, Grig Davidovitz, argued with me about the viability of some of my ideas and got so engaged in discussing them that I almost took offense at what I saw as his intrusiveness. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I thought, in my Internet innocence. I just needed the technical experts to go get it done for me.

In fact, while I did have a very clear idea of what I wanted The Times of Israel to stand for and to cover, connecting with Grig, a former journalist turned website maven, was central to the logic and elegant ease-of-use of the site on which you’re reading this article.

Ambassador Yehuda Avner affixes a mezuza to the front door of The Times of Israel offices in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Amanda Borschel-Dan/The Times of Israel)

Ambassador Yehuda Avner affixes a mezuza to the front door of The Times of Israel offices in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Amanda Borschel-Dan/The Times of Israel)

The choice of so traditional a name, I should stress, emphasizes our commitment to the accuracy, drive and flair that characterize the best traditions of journalism. But we’ve allied that respect for tradition with a cutting edge site, utilizing the best in Israeli design and technology. The Times of Israel presents its content via a long, elegant home page, painstakingly designed and developed by Grig’s colleagues Ronen Mizrachi and Biranit Goren, to give distinctive play to the different focuses of our site as you scroll down.

You’ll notice, as you do so, that we’ve steered clear of pop-up and other overly intrusive advertising, so that reading the site is a pleasure, and clicking on ads is something you may actually wish to do rather than something you feel compelled to do in order to get to the content. We appreciate the advertising partnerships we have built and are building, with organizations and companies that welcome the goals of The Times of Israel and want to be part of this venture.

Refreshingly, the site’s design and construction also enable us to show when news matters more and matters less: We can adjust headline sizes and picture sizes and how much space we allocate to particular stories, in the way that print newspapers have long done and very few websites are able to do. When dramatic news breaks, not only the words and the pictures, but the site itself, will look different than it does on quieter days.

The website, I should note, is in beta mode — with constant ongoing development and new tools and features to come. Please be patient with us through the inevitable teething problems, and contact us to let us know of bugs you come across.

Your involvement

As you may be beginning to gather – and as I gradually internalized over the past few months while we conceptualized, designed, built and staffed The Times of Israel – this is a highly ambitious project. And we need your involvement to help us meet these ambitious goals.

Personally, it represents the realization of a dream, a venture that I believe can really make a difference, and I feel immensely fortunate to have been able to bring it to launch. Seth has been central to this, placing his trust in me and offering unstinting support over the past few months.

Now we need your involvement to help us meet those ambitious goals.

For one thing, we want you to write for us. You’ll find an invitation on our home page to submit articles and post blogs.

For another, where appropriate, we want you to keep us informed of your activities and those of your organizations. Our home page invites you to send us content and feedback.

Finally, of course, we’d like you to devour our content, debate it, and spread the word.

Ultimately, we hope you’ll come to regard The Times of Israel as indispensable. That’s why we built it. If we built it, we told ourselves, you would come. And here you are!

Welcome to our Times.

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