The Jewish Chronicle

The Jewish Chronicle (The JC) is a London-based Jewish weekly newspaper. Founded in 1841, it is the oldest continuously published Jewish newspaper in the world.[3]

The Jewish Chronicle
Front page, 17 January 1896, showing article by Theodor Herzl (the father of political Zionism)
TypeWeekly newspaper
Owner(s)Kessler Foundation (UK)
EditorStephen Pollard[1]
Headquarters28 St. Albans Lane
NW11 7QE
Circulation20,141 (2018), of which 7,298 were free copies[2]

The newspaper is published every Friday (except when this is a Jewish holidays, when it appears earlier in the week) providing news, views, social, cultural and sports reports, as well as editorials and a spectrum of readers' opinions on the letter page. The news section of its website is updated several times a day.

It is owned by the Kessler Foundation (UK), a charitable trust in the United Kingdom. Its current editor is Stephen Pollard.[4]


19th century

The Jewish Chronicle first appeared on 12 November 1841. Its first editors were D. Meldola and M. Angel. It was issued as a weekly until May 1842, when it was suspended. From October 1844, it resumed as a fortnightly, with Joseph Mitchell as its editor. In 1847, it became again a weekly newspaper. A. Benisch, who became the proprietor and editor in 1855, bequeathed the paper to the Anglo-Jewish Association in 1878, who sold it to its new editor and anti-Zionist Asher I. Myers, Sydney M. Samuel and Israel David.[5]

In 1881, the leaders of the Jewish community in London were being criticised for not campaigning against the pogroms that were taking place in the Russian Empire. Under the leadership of Francis Henry Goldsmid, the pogroms were not mentioned by the newspaper and it was only after the feminist Louisa Goldsmid gave her support following calls to arms by an anonymous writer named "Juriscontalus" and Asher Myers of The Jewish Chronicle that action was taken. Public meetings were then held across the country and Jewish and Christian leaders in Britain spoke out against the atrocities.[6]

20th century

In December 1906, L. J. Greenberg, a successful advertising agent and English Zionist leader, contacted the Dutch banker Jacobus Kann with the object of buying The Jewish Chronicle to promote Zionism.[7] The same month, Greenberg, together with David Wolffsohn, Joseph Cowen, Jacobus H. Kahn, and Leopold Kessler, bought the shares. Greenberg himself became its editor.[5]

At the time, The JC gained a near monopoly in the Jewish press, taking over its principal competitors, The Hebrew Observer and The Jewish World. Only in October 1919, did The JC get a strong opposing voice from The Jewish Guardian, paper of the League of British Jews, which counterbalanced the dominant Zionist propaganda of The JC, until it disappeared in 1931. After Greenberg's death, the same year, The JC remained moderately pro-Zionist under the leadership of Leopold Kessler.[5]

The weekly newspaper The Jewish World was taken over in 1913. It published articles by various Zionist leaders, as well as early non-Jewish pro-Zionists. In 1934, it was merged with The Jewish Chronicle.[8] After 1948, the paper maintained a pro-Israel attitude.

In the late 1930s, David F. Kessler became managing director to assist his chairman father Leopold Kessler, a moderate Zionist and an associate of Theodor Herzl, known as the father of the State of Israel. After being away as a soldier in World War II during which his father had died, Kessler found that the editor, Ivan Greenberg, had taken a right-wing Zionist position highly critical of moderate Zionists and the British policy in Palestine. Kessler, after a struggle with the newspaper's board, sacked Greenberg and installed a moderate editor again.[9]

By the early 1960s, the Kessler family owned 80% of the newspaper's shares. To safeguard the newspaper's future, Kessler created a foundation ownership structure loosely modelled on the Scott Trust which owned The Guardian. Kessler was chairman for nearly 30 years until his death in 1999.[9]

Joseph Finklestone wrote for the paper from 1946 to 1992 in various roles, including sports editor, chief sub-editor, home news editor, assistant editor, foreign editor, and diplomatic editor.[10]

Geoffrey Paul (birth name Goldstein) was editor between 1977 and 1990.[11]

21st century

Editors have included Ned Temko, 1990 to 2005, Jeff Barak (managing editor, 2006), who returned to Israel, and David Rowan, 2006 to 2008, who joined the Observer.[12] In November 2008, Stephen Pollard became editor.[4]

In 2019, after a number of years of declining circulation and a pension deficit, the reserves of its owners had been exhausted and the Press Gazette reported its situation as "facing a grave closure threat". Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, organised a consortium of 20 individuals, families and charitable trusts to make donations to The Kessler Foundation so it could continue to support the newspaper. Alan Jacobs, founder of Jacobs Capital, became the new chairman.[13]

Editorial position

Under the ownership of Asher Myers and Israel Davis, from 1878, the paper was hostile to Zionism, in line with the official positions of the religious and lay leaders of the community. After Leopold Greenberg had taken over the paper in 1906, it became strongly Zionist and it was made into "a firm and influential champion of Zionism".[14]

The JC supported the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the publication of which was postponed for a week in order to allow the Chronicle to publish its opinion in time. After the Declaration was issued, however, the paper became critical of Chaim Weizmann. Greenberg was discontented with the too vague definition of the Zionist goals and wanted him to state clearly that Palestine must be politically Jewish. He wanted to define the "National Home" as a Jewish Commonwealth.[15] Although JC's support of Zionism somewhat decreased after Greenberg's death, it has consistently devoted considerable space to Israel and Zionism.[5]

Under Leopold Greenberg, The JC was hostile to the Reform and Liberal movements in Britain. Over the years, attention shifted from Orthodoxy in Anglo-Jewry to developments in Progressive Judaism, while becoming more critical of the Orthodox position on halakhic issues.[5]

Pollard accepts that the paper does not present a comprehensive picture of events, saying in 2009, "But don't forget who our readership is. They are interested in getting the news about Israel. It's not a biased view. We are presenting one aspect of all the news that is going on. Nobody gets all their news from the JC; we're a complementary news source."[16]

In 2014, the editor apologised on behalf of the paper for running an advertisement by the Disasters Emergency Committee appealing for funds for humanitarian relief for Gaza. He said that he and the paper did not support the appeal and were "entirely supportive" of Operation Protective Edge. He disputed the reported number of civilian casualties and asserted that many were terrorists.[17]

In June 2019, Pollard said "I think in the last few years there’s certainly been a huge need for the journalism that the JC does in especially looking at the anti-Semitism in the Labour party and elsewhere” and "there’s such a huge need for our proper crusading independent journalism". Kessler Foundation chair Clive Wolman said: “In the end, we and the JC Trust decided that our primary consideration had to be to preserve the editorial independence of the JC, particularly at a time when its journalists are playing such an important role in exposing anti-Semitism in British politics.[13] In July 2019, a Jewish Chronicle editorial declared that "We want to see (the current Labour Party leadership) removed from any significant role in public life."[18]

Notable interviews

In 1981, the publication published an interview with then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher was questioned regarding the state of Israel and how Conservative policy affected the Jewish community.[19]

In September 1999, it was the first non-Israeli newspaper to conduct an interview with Ehud Barak during his term as Prime Minister of Israel.[20]

In December 2007, the newspaper published an interview with the Labour Party donor, David Abrahams.[21][22]

In July 2013, The Jewish Chronicle hosted an audience with UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Farage was interviewed by editor Stephen Pollard, and took questions from the audience.[23]

Lawsuits, rulings and criticism

In 1968, The Jewish Chronicle accused Labour MP Christopher Mayhew of making antisemitic comments on a television programme. Mayhew sued for libel, arguing that his comments were anti-Zionist but not antisemitic. He received a public apology in the High Court.[24]

In 2009, a peace activist accepted £30,000 damages and an apology from the paper over false claims that he had harboured two suicide bombers.[25]

In May 2012, Dr Othman Moqbel, Dr Hussein Nagi and Mr Mohamad Yousef of Human Appeal International received an apology and substantial damages from The Jewish Chronicle following articles published in February of that year in the newspaper and on its website, suggesting that Human Appeal International, a British charity, had been designated as a terrorist organisation by the US government and had diverted donations to fund terror and to support the families of suicide bombers. An apology was published in the newspaper on 31 May and on its website on 30 May.[26]

In August 2015, dozens of prominent Jewish activists signed an open letter criticising the paper for what they viewed as its "character assassination" of Corbyn. They wrote: "Your assertion that your attack on Jeremy Corbyn is supported by 'the vast majority of British Jews' is without foundation. We do not accept that you speak on behalf of progressive Jews in this country. You speak only for Jews who support Israel, right or wrong." They continued, "There is something deeply unpleasant and dishonest about your McCarthyite guilt by association technique. Jeremy Corbyn's parliamentary record over 32 years has consistently opposed all racism including antisemitism." Signatories to the letter included Laurence Dreyfus, Selma James, Miriam Margolyes, Ilan Pappé, Michael Rosen and Avi Shlaim.

In August 2017, The Jewish Chronicle published a ruling by The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) that an article it had published earlier that year about a court case was in breach of the Editors' Code of Practice by identifying family members of the defendant. The Judge did not accept the defences of The Jewish Chronicle that the family members were prominent members of the community or that the family had been referenced in the proceedings, albeit without identifying individual members.[27]

In February 2018, The Jewish Chronicle falsely reported that Mike Sivier, a blogger and Labour Party member, was a holocaust denier. IPSO upheld a complaint by Mr Sivier that the newspaper had misrepresented online comments he had made.[28]

In April 2019, The Jewish Chronicle published a ruling by IPSO that articles it had published on May 2017 and April 2018 about an author critical of Zionism contained inaccuracies regarding venue denial activity by Jewish organisations and the author's views on the relationship between Zionism and Nazi Germany and that it had failed to issue a timely correction. The Jewish Chronicle said that they had relied on comments made by the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.[27]

In August 2019, Interpal received an apology and damages of £50,000 after The Jewish Chronicle implied that the charity had links to terrorist activity. On 23 August, the paper published the apology in full, together with an article by Ibrahim Hewitt, chair of trustees of Interpal.[29]

In November 2019, The Jewish Chronicle published a ruling by IPSO that it had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in relation to a number of claims over four articles about a Labour member published in February and March 2019. IPSO also expressed significant concerns about the newspaper's handling of this complaint in that it had failed repeatedly to answer questions put to it by IPSO and considered that the publication's conduct during IPSO's investigation was unacceptable.[30]

Publication data and finances

The average weekly circulation in 2018 was 20,141, of which 7,298 were free copies, down from 32,875 in 2008.[2][13]

The newspaper's website includes paid-for searchable archives of all editions from the first issue to the present, making it valuable for Anglo-Jewish genealogists and historians. The website was launched in 2000 and has won three successive Weekly Newspaper on the Web awards. It was relaunched in 2008.[31][32]

In 2018 the newspaper had a loss of about £1.5 million on operating costs of about £4.9 million, following losses in the previous two years.[13] The reserves of its owners since 1984, the charity The Kessler Foundation,[33] had been exhausted and they planned to introduce revenue and cost measures to reduce losses.[34] According to the editor, the paper had been facing the "real threat" of having to close. In 2019, a consortium of 20 individuals, families and charitable trusts made donations to The Kessler Foundation so it could continue to support the newspaper. The identities of the members of the consortium were not disclosed. The fundraising was led by Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council.[13][35]

Chief editors

See also


  1. 'Fantastic timing': a baptism of fire at the Jewish Chronicle The Independent. 11 January 2009
  2. "Jewish Chronicle". ABC. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  3. The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry, 1841–1991 Cambridge University Press
  4. Matthew Bell, "'Fantastic timing': a baptism of fire at the Jewish Chronicle", Independent on Sunday, 11 January 2009
  5. Jewish Chronicle ., accessed October 2018
  6. C. S. Monaco (2013). The Rise of Modern Jewish Politics: Extraordinary Movement. Routledge. pp. 148–. ISBN 978-0-415-65983-3.
  7. How the JC helped shape the debate. David Cesarani, Jewish Chronicle, 16 November 2017
  8. Jewish World. JVL, accessed October 2018
  9. Paul, Geoffrey (1 December 1999). "David Kessler". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  10. Raven, Rebecca (15 March 2002). "Joseph Finklestone". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  11. Frazer, Jenni (6 August 2019). "Tributes paid to former JC editor Geoffrey Paul, who dies aged 90". Jewish News.
  12. Day, Julia (21 February 2006). "Jewish Chronicle appoints new editor". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  13. Tobitt, Charlotte (20 June 2019). "Cash donors save Jewish Chronicle from 'grave' closure threat". Press Gazette. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  14. David Cesarani (3 March 1994). The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry, 1841–1991. Cambridge University Press. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-521-43434-8.
  15. Cesarani 1994, p. 127-128
  16. Bell, Matthew (11 January 2009). "'Fantastic timing': a baptism of fire at the Jewish Chronicle". The Independent. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  17. Greenslade, Roy (15 August 2014). "Jewish Chronicle editor apologises for running Gaza appeal advert". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  18. Pollard, Stephen (19 July 2019). "Why does the Board still want to engage with Labour?". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  19. Interview for Jewish Chronicle Margaret Thatcher Foundation. 19 June 1981
  20. "The Jewish Chronicle". Retrieved 8 June 2013.
  21. Jewish Chronicle defends its coverage of David Abrahams The Guardian. 7 December 2007
  22. "The Jewish Chronicle on how they got the Abrahams interview". The Spectator. 7 December 2007.
  23. "UKIP Leader Nigel Farage Supports Israel". The Algemeiner Journal. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  24. "Libel action: Christopher Mayhew versus 'The Jewish Chronicle' and Maurice Edelman, 1967-1979". Warwick University. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  25. Luft, Oliver (3 April 2009). "Jewish Chronicle pays £30,000 libel damages to peace activist". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  26. "Human Appeal International: an apology". The Jewish Chronicle. 30 May 2013.
  27. "JC breached Ipso rules in Suarez articles". The Jewish Chronicle. 12 April 2019. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  28. "Labour member wins IPSO complaint against Jewish Chronicle after telling newspaper he is not a Holocaust denier". Press Gazette. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  29. Whitehead, Harriet (28 August 2019). "Interpal trustees receive £50,000 in damages from Jewish Chronicle". Civil Society. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  30. "IPSO upholds Labour activist's accuracy complaint against JC". The Jewish Chronicle. 29 November 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2019.
  31. Jewish Chronicle relaunches website with open source software 10 July 2008
  32. Jewish Chronicle adds social networking in website revamp Brand Republic. 11 September 2008
  33. "The Kessler Foundation". Charity Commission. Charity no. 290759. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  34. "The Kessler Foundation - Financial statements for the year ending 30 June 2018" (PDF). The Kessler Foundation. Charity Commission. 10 June 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  35. "Good news about the future of the JC". The Jewish Chronicle. 20 June 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  36. Day, Julia (21 February 2006). "Jewish Chronicle appoints new editor". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  37. Brook, Stephen (30 June 2008). "Condé Nast to launch Wired in the UK". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2015.

Further reading

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