The Jewish Chronicle last week had a feature on a metal band called Skarthia, at least some of whose members are observant Jews. Apparently the singer got serious about the band while at yeshiva in Israel.
The Jewish Chronicle has always been criticised by critics of Israel for giving too little space to their concerns. The plain fact of the matter is that the majority of British Jews feel themselves to be supporters of Israel so – for economic reasons if nothing else – it’s inevitable that the paper should reflect this. That said, it’s also clear that under the editorship of Stephen Pollard (who took over at the end of 2008) there has been a pronounced increase in comment pieces that reflect the editor’s right of centre position on Israel. The same is true for coverage of antisemitism which is clearly a major concern of Pollard, particularly antisemitism from the left and from Muslims.
But for those who decry the JC, something interesting has happened in the last couple of weeks. In the controversy over the alleged antisemitism of Michal Kaminski and of other parties in the Conservative’s new European allies, Pollard has taken the line that Kaminski is no antisemite but a staunch friend of Israel. However, the JC’s new political editor Martin Bright and the columnist Jonathan Freedland have taken a completely different approach, arguing that Kaminski’s view of Jews remains disturbing.
Now it isn’t my intention to adjudicate on who is right in this dispute. What I want to point out is that Pollard has shown an admirable willingness to print – at length – the views of those who are extremely critical of his perspective. This is exactly what the JC should be doing – acting as a forum for dialogue and debate in the UK Jewish community. In the last few weeks the JC has been much more interesting and engaging than at any time during Pollard’s editorship. Let’s hope that this willingness to provide space for a multiplicity of views carries on.