As you know, the articles of ‘Berov Oz veShalom’ are translated to English and appear in this sister site which is read in various countries around the world by Israelis and non-Israelis alike. For a few months, links to these translated articles appeared in a readers’ blog I opened on the website of the London based newspaper the ‘Jewish Chronicle’. This readers’ blog was a fascinating human zoo. From passionate Zionists and sworn Israel supporters, to Israel haters, not less sworn. Every day, a small battle took place there over the image of the state of Israel, both in the published articles and in readers’ responses to these articles.
All this has ended now. One morning, without me receiving any pre-warning, all the links I published in the readers’ blog of the ‘Jewish Chronicle’ magically disappeared. The blogs of many other readers also disappeared in this sudden cleansing. Only a handful of writers were left, the ‘cream’ of Britain’s dwindling Jewish community, who continued publishing their articles freely. As my grandmother used to say in her Yiddish accent: “Cronies”. When I tried to log into my account on the papers’ website I discovered that my username and password were disabled.
I rang the paper’s office. The first person I talked to was a woman who sounded in an advanced geriatric state and who tried to convince me that this was some automatic clean-up process by the software as ‘there was no more space’ for additional articles. As I know something about computers and as I was not ‘made with a finger’ as they say in Israel, I called again later and finally managed to talk to the person in charge of the paper’s website. He sounded extremely stressed up and refused to comment on the issue, directing me instead to the paper’s editor Stephen Pollard who, according to him, was the one who decided on the change of the paper’s policy on readers’ blogs. So far for automatic clean ups.
Next morning I finally managed to talk directly to the paper’s editor. He explained that the paper had changed its policy and that from now on it will only publish readers’ blogs written by those the paper itself invited to write. Freedom of speech at its best. As you used to say, dear Grandma, “Cronies”. He also claimed that a message about this was sent to me in an email, which I never received. I asked if I could be one of those invited writers and Mr Pollard promised to check and come back to me. Shortly after, I received an email from him in which he explained again the new policy, and which ended thus: “I don’t feel it would be appropriate to add your name to this list since none of your posts are blogs written for JC readers, they are simply links to your own blog.” I responded by saying that such exactly were the posts of Mr Matthew Harris, one of the respected people who were invited to continue writing on the blog, and asked what the difference was between me and him. His reply to this was: “He will now be writing blogs specifically for the JC. But that’s not relevant. We are now hosting a very limited number of blogs, and I am afraid that we will not be able to accommodate yours.”
I waited a couple of weeks. Matthew Harris’ blog entries continued, as before, to only include links to his own blog. I wrote again to Stephen Pollard. I quoted his own words saying that my posts included only links to my own blog and that Matthew Harris who did the same will now be writing blogs specifically to the JC. I explained I am about to publish an article both in Hebrew and in English detailing this matter and said that I will happily publish his response to these inconsistencies. No response was forthcoming – Stephen Pollard did not bother to respond to my email.
I will spare you the photo of the smug editor – I chose someone else’s photo instead.