Bertram ‘Buddy’ Korn was one of the unsung heroes of journalism, and of particularly Jewish journalism in a time when the very idea has almost become laughable. When I showed up in his neck of the woods a few years ago, he very generously took the time to talk to me and to share his stories. He was only in his early sixties, still highly opinionated, and passionate about his favorite subject.
His death at the age of 64 is tragic and premature. But so is the reality that he labored hard to create a Jewish journalism that now only exists in the cracks and crevices, even as local Federation papers dominate the scene with recycled JTA propaganda.
Did I mention that Buddy Korn was conservative?
As one of the founders of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and later as a Jewish newspaper editor in Florida and Philadelphia, he began his work defending Israel in the media, and at the same time grooming a generation of mission-driven journalists for the Jewish community…
He organized a group called Jews for Sarah and was part of an effort to support a possible run for Sarah Palin for president. He edited several books for investigative journalist Aaron Klein and wrote the forward to one as well…
As film critic and talk-show host Michael Medved wrote in his autobiography, Right Turns, and David Horowitz in his memoirs, Radical Son, Buddy spoke to audiences about his journey from being on the radical left and secular to being observant and a political conservative.
Korn was a former editor of the Jewish Exponent, who had put his stamp on the paper at the time.
As Israel and Judaism took on heightened significance in his life, his political outlook shifted and he became an outspoken conservative activist and talk radio host.
He regularly led pro-Israel demonstrations, founded the Philadelphia chapter of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, and was the founding chairman of the Philadelphia Religious Zionists.
He also founded Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin, an advocacy group dedicated to supporting the former vice presidential candidate during the 2012 presidential election.
Son Avichai Korn recalled his father hosting people in the community at the family’s home in Elkins Park. Some stayed for months after falling on hard times.
“He was the kind of person who didn’t just open his wallet to people or his doors to people. He also opened his heart to people completely,” he said.
In our last exchange, in 2019, he emailed me demanding to know why no one was standing up to Rep. Ilhan Omar.
“As long as a few of us merely try to censor her, she controls the news cycle and she wins. Let’s stop asking her to behave and make the issue about her radical Islamic terrorism associations,” he wrote.
He was right. As usual.