Revisiting the case of Emily Honchowicz, the young American Jew blinded in one eye by Israeli Police Thugs
Emily Honcowich – Democracy Now
It’s not every day that the CEO of the Jewish Chronicle, Jo Bucci, writes to me begging for a handout. Jo informed me that:
In the weeks since the war broke out in Israel, our journalists have been working non-stop to bring you the latest news from the front lines as well as closer to home.
Our coverage, which has been read by millions since October 7, has shone a light on the conflict and given our readers stories that matter to them in these difficult times.
I’m writing to you today to ask if you’d consider being a donor to the Jewish Chronicle.
The Jewish Chronicle is the world’s oldest Jewish newspaper, founded in 1841. It has always been the paper of the Jewish Establishment.
Now you will understand dear reader that I am in a dilemma when it comes to giving to good causes. Should I donate my hard earned cash to those ‘anti-Semites’ at Medical Aid for the Palestinians, who will only spend my cash on things like bandages and medicines for Palestinian children in Gaza or should I hand it over to the Jewish Chronicle in order that it can continue to shamelessly lie in the cause of Jewish Supremacy?
Well of course I would like to give a helping hand to the non-Jewish racist who currently edits the JC, one Jake Wallis-Simons but needs must. It’s not that I don’t understand Jo Bucci’s plight. I really do.
Bernard Joseph, unlike ‘liar’ Lee Harpin and Marcus Dysch, was able to write a fair and balanced article
According to Wikipedia from a high of 55,000 in 1941, former editor Stephen Pollard managed to reduce this from 30,000 when he was appointed in 2009 to 20,141 in 2018 and over a third of those were free copies.
But in August 2010 things were so different. Pollard, who should be called the gravedigger of the JC, was telling readers
I am thrilled to be able to report that the JC’s year-on-year ABC circulation figures (30/6/09-30/6/10) are up 3.67%. In June 2009, circulation was 30,436; this June it reached 31,556 – an increase of 1,120.
In other words the obsessive, dishonest anti-Corbyn campaign of Pollard between 2015 and 2019 turned off one-third of its readers.
But if you thought that things couldn’t get worse you are wrong. According to ABC, the auditor for the media industry, circulation has fallen to 12,420 in May-June 2023 and of those nearly half are given away. In other words just 6,371 people are prepared to fork out to buy a copy of the rag.
The Jewish Chronicle, the Board of Deputies and the Zionists had but one message – KEEP AWAY
When Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists tried to march through London’s East End the JC, the Board of Deputies and the Zionists urged Jews to keep indoors. Jewish and non-Jewish workers ignored the Jewish Establishment and taught Moseley a lesson he would remember
Clearly the JC is in big trouble and its not difficult to understand why. It’s boring, unreadable and a propaganda rag that is at odds with youth culture and political awareness amongst the young. Zionism is irrelevant to all but a handful of zealots. Most Jewish kids know that things are wrong in Israel but according to the JC it is as if the election of neo-Nazis like Ben Gvir and Smotrich to Israel’s government never happened.
The JC was an early adherent of the Zionist movement or rather they bought it out but in the early days it could be very critical of Zionism. During the Hitler period when the Zionists were looking to take advantage of the Nazi state in order to build their Jewish state, the JC was very critical of the policies of the Zionist movement, and in particular of Ha’avara, the trading agreement between the Nazis and the Zionist movement. Today it is an anti-Palestinian propaganda rag.
In an editorial of 27 December 1935 the JC railed against Ha’avara. It accused the World Zionist Organisation of
aiding and comforting one of the most savage oppressions even in Jewish history. It dishonours and defiles us. It shame us in our own eyes and un-mans us. It is a blow to our pride and a shock to our morale and self-respect at a time when we are most direly in need of the strengthening of these qualities. It also disheartens us, for it breaks the united Jewish boycott front, a front, let it not be forgotten, with which Gentile sympathisers are also aligned.
… The boycott offered Jews the first real weapon they-have ever had, thanks to the modern development of international trade. The Haavarah dashes that weapon from their hands. The Haavarah has actually exerted itself, if our information be correct, to promote an increase of the purchase of German products in Palestine…
But, at least, let not our critics try to fool us with the argument- that if the Ha’avarah helps Jewish national reconstruction it does not transgress against Jewish national dignity. Building the new Judea on an “unclean ” transaction is not our idea of preserving Jewish dignity!’
Today the ‘JC’ is a ‘newspaper’ that Goebbels would have given his eye teeth for. Its mission is to keep British Jews in ignorance of the reality of what is happening in Israel and Palestine and line them up in support of genocide. Strangely enough many Jews are not happy with being fodder for a ‘Jewish’ state that seems to be anything but Jewish.
The reality is that the Jewish Chronicle, whilst purporting to be horror stricken at the alleged increase in anti-Semitism does its best to increase anti-Semitism by constantly associating Jews, all Jews, with the war crimes of the Israeli state.
Although one should resolutely oppose attacks on Jews because of what Israel does, at the same time one should recognise that people are justifiably angered by the scenes of carnage and war crimes from Gaza. When the JC goes out of its way to stress Jewish support for Israeli war crimes is it any wonder that some people take them at their word and attack Jews as a result?
One of my favourite headlines in the JC
The JC is unrepresentative of British Jews
The JC is also increasingly unrepresentative of the Jewish community. In the last authoritative survey of the British Jewish community in 2015 The Attitudes of British Jews Towards Israel it was found that the number of Jews who identified as Zionists had dropped from 72% in 2010. A quarter of Jews supported sanctions against Israel and to the question do Palestinians have no legitimate claim to the land, as right-wing Zionists argue, just 14% supported this proposition as opposed to 72% who were opposed.
Yet the JC has consistently supported the right and far-right of the Zionist movement. It brooks no criticism of Israel and as I show below actively censors anything tending to put it in a different light. In short the JC has become increasingly unrepresentative of British Jews and more of a shrill Zionist voice lecturing and hectoring. The appointment of another far-right editor, Jake Wallis-Simons, formerly of the Telegraph merely accentuates this trend.
The exclusion of non-Zionist and anti-Zionist voices from the JC has contributed to its irrelevance. Most young Jews today come into contact with Palestinians and Jews who are not Zionists yet this reality has never entered the JC’s ecosphere. The pretence that the West Bank is a haven of tranquility punctured only by anti-Semitic Palestinians is simply at odds with what people learn from other sources. They know that Israel is now considered by most people as an apartheid state in which messianic Jews rule the roost.
The growth of non and anti-Zionist Jewish groups has passed the JC by. Na’amod, Jews Against Genocide, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Jewish Voices for Labour, Jewish Network for Palestine, Jews for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, have sprung up yet the JC relates to the shrill loudmouths and far-right Zionists such as Jonathan Hoffman with his coterie of Tommy Robinson supporters.
My own experience of the Jewish Chronicle
I have been in conflict with the JC for most of my political life. I am the only person to have successfully taken the JC to the Press Council, the forerunner of today’s Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). When PSC organised a Conference on Anti-Arab Racism in 1985, with funding from the then Greater London Council, the JC attacked the conference implying that PSC was anti-Semitic. When I wrote to them on behalf of PSC, the JC refused me a right of reply. The Press Council upheld my complaint that I should have had a right of reply.
One of a number of letters the JC printed from me
Although its editor the late Geoffrey D Paul and I never saw eye to eye, he nonetheless invariably allowed me access to the letters columns of the paper although of course there was usually in reply a deluge of angry Zionists.
My letter to the Guardian challenging Chaim Bermant’s Obituary
Geoffrey Paul allowed, by Zionist standards anyway, a wide range of debate in the paper. He repeatedly defended the maverick columnist Chaim Bermant who supported negotiations with the PLO, something that was considered beyond the pale in polite circles at that time.
Bernard Joseph did not set out to distort or twist the truth unlike JC ‘journalists’ today
This was a time when the JC employed journalists as opposed to Zionist political hacks like David Rose. For example when I spoke at the 2007 UNISON Conference in support of BDS, the only Jewish person to do so, I took apart the usual Zionist accusations that supporters of Palestine were anti-Semitic supporters of Hamas. I got a rousing reception from the delegates and the motion passed overwhelmingly. The first person who came up to congratulate me on my speech was Bernard Josephs, the JC reporter. Bernard was an old school Zionist and certainly not a supporter of BDS but he appreciated the way I had dealt with the accusations of anti-Semitism.
Fast forward 13 years and under Stephen Pollard all was different. Professor Geoffrey Alderman, a Zionist who had written for the JC for nearly 46 years, being a weekly columnist for 14 years, criticised the IHRA because its 11 examples ‘embed numerous internal contradictions’. This was during the anti-Corbyn smear campaign which the JC was leading, with the IHRA as its main weapon. Such criticism was considered by Pollard as nothing less than sabotage.
Alderman then went on to blot his copybook even further when he wrote an article for The Spectator Is Jeremy Corbyn really anti-Semitic? reaching the conclusion that far from being anti-Semitic ‘The fact of the matter is that Corbyn has an impressive record of supporting Jewish communal initiatives.’
Under Geoffrey Paul Alderman would have been defended. Pollard however was incandescent with rage. Zionist ideologues such as Pollard don’t do debate. He was running a campaign of hate and the last thing he wanted was a cool, analytical look at Corbyn’s actual record in relation to Jews. What did Pollard do? He sent a curt email at the end of January 2020 to Alderman saying ‘“as editor I no longer wish to have you in the paper.”
Pollard adamantly refused, in a telephone call, to give his reasons for the decision but they are not hard to discern. Pollard, a hard-right Zionist and founder of the Islamaphobic Henry Jackson Society, would brook no dissent. It was an iron rule as far as he was concerned that Corbyn was anti-Semitic.
Pollard was perhaps one of the most dishonest figures to grace public life in Britain in the last 20 years. He was also a disaster as JC Editor taking the circulation from over 30,000 to under 20,000 and bankrupting the paper in the process. It was only because the JC was seen as too valuable to go under during the anti-Corbyn witchhunt that the JC was rescued, amongst others by John Ware, who produced the serially dishonest Panorama programmeIs Labour Anti-Semitic?
But I have another reason for detesting Pollard. So much so that when he announced that he had cancer I thought that there might be divine justice after all.
The Case of Emily Honochowicz
On 3 July 2010 I wrote to Pollard about the case of an American Jewish art student, Emily Honochowicz. Emily had gone to study in Jerusalem for one year as part of her art degree. There she had met anti-occupation activists from the International Solidarity Movement and she had been particularly moved by the terrible things that the Palestinians were experiencing in the West Bank.
On hearing of Israel’s murder of 9 activists on the Mavi Marmara and Gaza Freedom Flotilla she and others had gone to stage a protest at the main gateway from Jerusalem to the West Bank, the Qalandiya checkpoint. This was being policed by the Border Guard, a notoriously violent Israeli police unit. All of a sudden one of them shot, in breach of all regulations, a tear gas cannister directly at Emily with the result that she was blinded in one eye.
Emily was rushed, first to a hospital in Ramallah and then to Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital where doctors were unable to save her eye. I was particularly moved by how a young Jewish girl had taken part in the kind of protest which is normal in any country calling itself a democracy and she had lost an eye as a result. How could this be in a state that calls itself Jewish? Where were its Jewish values?
I wrote an articleThe Day an American Jewish Art Student Emily Henochowicz Lost an Eye and it occurred to me that perhaps the JC would consider this newsworthy. I knew that the evils perpetrated against Palestinians never made the JC columns, especially under Pollard, because it was an iron rule that British Jews should be kept in ignorance of what was happening in the occupied territories.
Much fun was had when we were stewarding the TUC Conference in Brighton – after everyone had gone home we dumped the Zionist propaganda in the nearest bin!
But Emily wasn’t a Palestinian. She was a Jewish girl. Surely this story merited a place in the JC? I had read an article in Ha’aretz Israel Refuses to Pay Medical Bills for American-Jewish Protester Who Lost Eye and found it outrageous. The Pig who had blinded Emily in one eye had broken all regulations and yet the Israeli government, which can spend thousands of pounds on takeaway meals for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his corrupt wife, didn’t have the decency to at least pay for the medical bills caused by its thuggish police force.
I wrote that
Emily, the daughter of an Israeli born father and granddaughter of holocaust survivors has learnt the hard way that Israel is an oppressive and racist regime.
The final insult of course is that Israel refuses to pay the medical bills for her treatment in hospital. Literally they want their pound of flesh.
The latter being a reference to Shylock and the Merchant of Venice.
I sent an email to Pollard suggesting that he might want to run this story, noting that
Instead of being an echo chamber to Jonathan Hoffman isn’t it about time you actually started reporting the more uncomfortable facts? When people look back this period of the Jewish Chronicle it will come to be seen as one of its darkest and least glorious chapters.
Pollard immediately responded
‘Thank you for your email, which will make a fine addition to my ‘delete’ folder.’
In other words nothing that could upset the myth of Israel as the Middle East’s Only Democracy would be allowed to grace the pages of the Jewish Chronicle, even if it was someone who was Jewish who had experienced violence or discrimination.
Emily, in a fascinating interview with Democracy Now, described how she was cared for and looked after by Palestinians, despite their many worries, exploding the myth that Palestinians are gripped by a fatalistic and obsessive anti-Semitism. (see above)
In the pre-Pollard era the letters columns were relatively open
Emily came across in the interview as a wonderful and likeable girl who was trying to put her experiences behind her whilst displaying empathy and understanding for the Palestinians of Nabi Saleh
Pollard, who looks every bit as detestable as he is, proved that when it comes to the Zionist press in this country, lies and deceit always trump honesty and truth. The tragedy is that too many Jews are too blind to see that they being conned by a narrow Jewish nationalism that at the current time is perpetrating genocide in Gaza.
Instead many Jews whine about a non-existent ‘anti-Semitism’, whilst keeping company with vile racists like Suella Braverman and then wonder why it is that some people assume that Jews and Genocide go together.
So no, I shall not be contributing to the Jewish Chronicle anytime soon. The sooner it dies the better for everyone but especially Britain’s Jews.
As for Stephen Pollard, I am reminded of the last stanza of Bob Dylan’s masterpiece, Masters of War:
And I hope that you die And your death’ll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I’ll watch while you’re lowered Down to your deathbed And I’ll stand over your grave ‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead