I have been the Political Editor of the Jewish Chronicle for sixth months and have now had the chance to take stock a little. As the first goy to hold the post, it was always going to be a challenge. It has been fascinating from the outset, if a little surreal at times. The newspaper has a reputation for being the voice of conservative-Zionist jewry in Britain so as someone who has always worked for secular left-liberal publications in the UK, this was always likely to be a stretch.
When I began working at the Chronicle, the British Jewish community was still coming to terms with the Gaza conflict and the fallout from the Goldstone report. I made my first big mistake in December, when I suggested that Gordon Brown had shifted the government’s Chanukah celebration from the Foreign Office to No. 10 Downing Street to make up with the Jewish community for its failure to fully back Israel over Goldstone. Quite rightly, some Jews on the left in Britain took me to task for generalizing on their behalf.
Earlier this month, I had lunch with some leading centrist Jewish figures who wanted to grill me on my newspaper and my own political stance. This was a private meeting so I won’t record who was present. But the secrecy may be a sign of how alienated such people feel from “mainstream” opinion represented by such institutions as the the Board of Jewish Deputies of British Jews, the community’s representative body, and as a result of the meeting, I am now convinced that it is only a matter of time before Britain will have its own version of JStreet.
I will keep you informed of developments.