UK

Jewish Chronicle Apologises After Readers Object To Gaza DEC Appeal Advert

16/08/2014 14:21 BST | Updated 16/08/2014 14:59 BST

The Jewish Chronicle has been forced to apologise for running a humanitarian advert for the DEC Gaza appeal, after readers strongly objected to the promotion in the paper.

The JC, which is the country's oldest and most influential Jewish paper, made the apology in a post on Facebook where it said the act was a "purely humanitarian gesture, and was not an expression of the JC's view" but added that readers were angry at the decision and apologised.

the jc

The advert that appeared in the paper

"In response, the JC will be giving space in next week's issue to readers wishing to express their objection to the advert.

The JC will also be running a free advert encouraging readers to donate to a range of charities supporting Israel," the apology continued.

"Maybe you should donate the money you received from this diabolical advert to a pro Israel cause too. Utterly disgraceful," Melanie Klass wrote in a Facebook comment below the apology.

"Not good enough sorry! I won't encourage your treachery by fueling you in writing in next week, I'll just never buy your paper again," wrote Yisroel Shalom.

But others said the paper should not have apologised. "You did the right thing, JC. Like you said it was a humanitarian gesture. Anyone who couldn't see that has a very blinkered, one-eyed view. The apology is completely needless," wrote Tom Mortimer.

"Does the Jewish community wish to constantly deny the suffering of innocent Palestinians exist?" wrote Adina Lieblich. "The enemy is Hamas, not the civilians caught in the middle. A public show of empathy for those individuals and their suffering doesn't mean a betrayal to 'your people' or the fight for Israel's right to exist."

"I saw the DEC Gaza appeal advert in the Jewish Chronicle yesterday and thought well of the JC's management for running it," said Robert Cohen. "It does sit a little uncomfortably with most of the editorial coverage in the paper but it at least demonstrated an understanding that there is now a humanitarian crisis that has to be addressed regardless of who you think is to blame."

Editor Stephen Pollard said the decision to run the ad had been taken by the paper's chairman Stephen Grabiner, who is also an independent director of the Times.

"As editor, I am not responsible for any ads which appear in the paper. It is a critical part of our editorial independence that we do not allow advertisers to have any influence at all on the paper," he said in a statement. "The ad was approved by the chairman of the JC, who has no involvement in editorial decisions, as an ad for humanitarian aid which nowhere makes political or partisan points."

"Both I as editor and the JC are entirely supportive of Operation Protective Edge, as our coverage has demonstrated," Pollard continued. "Almost alone in the British media the JC has stressed Israel's right to defend herself and sought to explain why Israel was faced with no choice but to take action in Gaza. There is, clearly, a humanitarian cost to that action. But I do not accept the figures touted around much of the media about the level of civilian casualties – many are, I am sure, terrorists.

"This is not a JC-backed appeal. We have no involvement in it beyond running an ad, which has appeared in most British newspapers. Even if you profoundly disagree with the ad appearing in the paper, I hope this will go some way to explaining its presence and that it is in no way part of our editorial stance."

The paper had been lambasted for its decision to run the advert by rival papers Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph, and a Facebook group has been set up called 'We demand a full apology from the "Jewish" Chronicle'.

The group had even mooted a small protest outside the paper's offices in north London over the weekend, but few people have confirmed they will attend.

DEC is an umbrella organisation which distributes money raised for international disasters between 13 UK charities, which are Action Aid, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.