This is How They Shut Mouths at the ‘Jewish Chronicle’

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.

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9 Responses to This is How They Shut Mouths at the ‘Jewish Chronicle’

  1. yes, the jc is behaving appallingly

    the only good blogs on the jc website were yours and matthew harris’s (and maybe mine)

    since the jc doesn’t pay its guest bloggers, it is hardly surprising that the best blogs were originally written for other sites

    have you considered contacting matthew harris, and asking for his support? he’s a liberal mp, so maybe he’ll agree to boycott the jc until your freedom of speech is restored

    i emailed stephen pollard yesterday morning specifically arguing that your blog should be restored (no reply yet):
    “why has berovozveshalom not been approved? he is a recognised blogger in israel (http://muchcourageandpeace.wordpress.com/), he is both interesting and informative, his blogs and comments here were faultless, and his presence on thejc.com enhanced the website”

    i do not believe that he sent any email notification of the change, i certainly never received one

    your blogs have not actually been deleted, all the non-approved blogs are still there, but they aren’t in the index of blogs, nobody can find your old blogs unless they know your user-name (yours are indexed at http://www.thejc.com/blogs/berovozveshalom)

    the jc’s “community pages” are a failure, its “forum” has about one thread a month, and now it is ruining its blogs

    pollard needs pollarding! (pollard: to cut off the top and branches of (a tree) to encourage new growth at the top )

    your disgruntled follower, happygoldfish

    • Much Courage and Peace says:

      The Bible has a wonderful expression for this – Eved ki imloch (When a slave becomes a king).

  2. JCWmoderator says:

    I’ve published a pointer to your post in JCWatch; keep up the good work …

    http://jcwatch.wordpress.com/

  3. joe millis says:

    Shame you were Pollared, too (thanks, Goldfish, for the definition. It’s also an animal that has shed its horns or antlers, by the way). Pretty indicative of the path the JC has taken of late – and possibly one of the reasons why its readership had declined so rapidly over the past few years.
    Despite our views sometimes being diametrically opposed, at least you were polite and thoughtful.
    I will continue reading this blog, now that I know where it is.
    Be’hatzlacha, achi
    Joe Millis

  4. Norman Cohen says:

    I was directed here by happygoldfish. Having borne the brunt of the Hate Israel Circus that effectively tried to take over the blog site I can sympathise with you wholeheartedly.Fortunately they mainly left you alone because i think you linked to articles rather than putting them up in full.

    i left a message of support on the same blog as happygoldfish.

    • Much Courage and Peace says:

      I moved on from there – one day, after a change of an editor, perhaps the attitude will change too.

  5. Jon Cohen says:

    It is interesting to see what has happened to the JC’s web site and I have had some direct twitter communication with Stephen Pollard about it, in particular how the JC allowed Carlos Cortiglia a platform. I too was a (fairly regular), blogger from April 2009 through to June 2011. However, I gave up blogging on the JC due to the incessant anti-Israel comments that were continually plaguing the site. I did and do not not believe that the “Jewish Chronicle” should be a forum used for “Israel bashing”, there are plenty of other outlets for this type of paranoia.
    It is a shame that the bloggs are now reduced to 2 or 3 regular “names”.

    • Much Courage and Peace says:

      That is exactly why I was hoping that the editor would permit a pro-Israel blog like mine to continue. However, he had other ideas and motives.

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