New York (Mar. 17)
Joseph Polakoff, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Washington Bureau Chief for the last 10 years, will retire April 3, it was announced today by Martin Fox, JTA president. At the same time, Fox announced that David Friedman, a staff writer for the JTA in its New York office for the last eight years, will be transferred to Washington as Bureau Chief.
Polakoff covered many major stories in Washington, around the country and abroad. These included travelling with President Nixon to Moscow, Kiev and Leningrad in 1972 when the campaign for the freedom of Soviet Jewry reached a crisis state. Polakoff was also with Nixon when the President continued his journey to Warsaw, Salzburg and Teheran and reported on major developments in the Jewish communities in Poland, Austria and Iran.
Polakoff was with President Carter on his journey in 1978 to Cairo and Jerusalem when the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty was signed. He was present daily in Thurmont, Md. during the protracted Camp David discussions that led to the Egyptian-Israeli-American agreements on the Middle East peace process. He was also present at Thurmont in 1973 when Leonid Brezhnev conferred at Camp David with Nixon and he questioned Brezhnev. In addition to his daily coverage of the State Department, White House and Congress, Polakoff also covered Republican and Democratic national conventions in Miami, Kansas City and Detroit.
KNOWN FOR HIS SHARP QUESTIONING
During his tenure as Bureau Chief, Polakoff became known for his sharp questioning of the various Administrations’ policies as they affected Israel and world Jewry. He always insisted on clear and precise answers from Administration spokesmen and refused to accept glib, off-handed and obscure replies to questions. Polakoff insisted on clarity so that the ramifications of a given policy or its shift could be easily discerned. His pointed questions were also frequently directed to top American foreign policy officials as well as to visiting heads of state, foreign ministers and ambassadors.
Polakoff become the first JTA reporter to receive full and permanent accreditation at the White House, the State Department and Senate and House Press Galleries.
Prior to joining the JTA, Polakoff spent 28 years in the information agencies of the U.S. government. Leaving his post as city editor of the Scranton, Pa. Tribune, he joined the Office of War Information and while on duty in London he was appointed to the State Department and the Foreign Service. His U.S. service included assignment as information policy officer to the U.S. delegation to the special session of the United Nations in 1962 in New York.
Friedman, who has been a newspaperman for more than 22 years, has covered major stories for the JTA, including the 1976 and 1980 Democratic national conventions in New York. He was one of the first reporters in the Jewish media to point out how the elimination of the Electoral College would adversely affect the Jewish community. Recently he has done a series of articles detailing the affect of President Reagan’s proposed budget cuts on the Jewish community.
Friedman has written many articles and features dealing with the Holocaust and Soviet Jewry. He has interviewed many of the freed Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience on their first visit to the United States. He has reviewed films and plays dealing with Jewish subject matter and has written numerous articles dealing with the Yiddish theater. Friedman has also reviewed books, particularly on American Jewish life, foreign affairs and the national political scene relating to American Jews and to Israel. Since October 1980 he has written the weekly column, Panorama.
Before joining the JTA, Friedman spent three years in Israel as a free-lance writer. Prior to that he was a reporter for the Baltimore (Md.) Sun, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, Pompano Beach (Fla.) Town News, and Bryan (Ohio) Times. He was also an editorial writer for The Trentonian in Trenton, N.J.
Friedman, who was born in New York City and grew up in Newark, N.J., did graduate work in political science and economics at New York University and the New School for Social Research. He holds a BA degree from NYU where he majored in journalism. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi and its New York chapter, the Deadline Club. He is married to the former Toby Schwartz of Toronto, Canada.