The DEC Gaza Appeal and last week’s JC
The reason the JC is the oldest Jewish newspaper in the world, with a reach of over 156,000 Jews, is that it is the only space in our community where all sides — religious, political and cultural — can see themselves reflected and can meet and debate (sometimes forthrightly) in a place which all, rightly, see as their own. In these troubled times, it is vital that we never lose sight of that.
Last week, we carried an advertisement for the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza aid. The page was donated by the JC as a humanitarian gesture because the people of Gaza are also victims of Hamas terrorism. Were it not for Hamas rockets, there would have been no need for Operation Protective Edge. No one is at war with the people of Gaza and it is important that they are helped to rebuild their lives after the war, for their own and Israel’s sake.
The presence of the ad generated an enormous postbag, much of which expressed anger that we had given space to an umbrella body that contains Islamic Relief, an organisation that has been banned by Israel for its alleged ties to Hamas. The distinguished journalist, John Ware, examines that issue on page 8.
As a newspaper, we pride ourselves on being Israel’s greatest friend in the British media and we view Israel’s defence and its citizens’ right to live in peace as one of the defining issues of the modern world.
In that context, we should have been more alive to the anger that some readers would feel that Islamic Relief was part of the DEC appeal and their fear that some of the money raised by the appeal might end up with Hamas.
We are truly sorry that some readers were upset as a result of our decision to carry the ad in the JC.
Since our concern was humanitarian, with the innocent victims on all sides, we should perhaps also have run an ad appealing for funds for the Israelis who suffer from terror, alongside an appeal for the Palestinian victims of Hamas’ terror. That is why this week we are running ads for two Israeli-focused charities, again donated by the JC. One is for My Israel, which enables UK donors to support small Israeli charities. The other is for the UJIA’s Children of the South appeal.
The JC has been and remains entirely supportive of Operation Protective Edge. Almost alone in the British media, the JC has stressed Israel’s right to defend itself and sought to explain why Israel was faced with no choice but to take action in Gaza. That is even more important now that Hamas has resumed its rocket fire.