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JC editor criticised

by: Jewish Telegraph - Last updated: 2006-07-21

The JC

The JC

Communal leaders have expressed serious concern at the London Jewish Chronicle editor's decision not to back Israel during her darkest hour.

David Rowan was quoted in Tuesday's Independent as saying: "I don't want to make it a pro- or anti-Israel paper."

And the paper's Manchester reporter Joy Wolfe led the growing chorus of criticism.

In an undisguised attack, Mrs Wolfe - who is also life-president of the Zionist Central Council - insisted: "Any major organ of the Jewish community has to take a pro-Israel stance."

Mr Rowan, who has edited the paper for barely two months and has little experience of working in the Jewish Press, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

His remarks appeared in an Independent feature about British Jewry's reaction to the fight against Hezbollah terrorists.

He said: "The JC needs to be the place where the debate takes place, but doesn't instinctively support one side or another.

"We need to be fair to all parties and there are some very strongly held views."

Board of Deputies' chief executive Jon Benjamin was surprised at Mr Rowan's comments.

He said: "We would hope the Jewish Chronicle would express the views of its readership, with its overwhelmingly pro-Israel feeling."

Israel's ambassador Zvi Heifetz, while declining specifically to comment on the paper, said: "I hope that people of this community are supporting Israel not only during the difficult times. This is a very warm, committed community. At difficult times you would expect to feel the support even more than at other times."

Simon Winters, chief executive of JNF UK, insisted: "The Jewish community needs Jewish newspapers that support Israel."

Zionist Federation president Eric Moonman warned that all Jewish publications should "be robust in their support for Israel". Manchester Zionist Central Council president Lucille Cohen, said she expected Mr Rowan to support Israel.

She explained: "The Jewish community of Britain would expect the Jewish Chronicle to report the absolute truth, and that truth always puts Israel in the best possible light when set against the murderous intent of its neighbours. One would expect him to be pro-Israel."

Communal stalwart Joshua Rowe, chairman of Manchester King David High School governors, said Mr Rowan's policy was "incomprehensible".

He added: "Every Jewish forum should be defending Israel's stance. Israel is a beautiful story and has to be told. We have so many detractors in the wider world that we need every support."

Neil Solden, of the Leeds Zionist Federation, said: "If this is an accurate quote he should consider other employment."

Leaders said the remarks were particularly surprising, given that the London weekly nets thousands of pounds from advertising placed by Israeli tourism firms and charities.

Adrian Cohen, of Israel Travel Service, said: "It's very unfortunate that a man in such a position would make such an anti-Zionist statement."

Reproduced with permission: Jewish Telegraph