Jewish Observer and Middle East Review

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search
The cover of the French edition of the Jewish Observer, L'Observateur du Moyen Orient et de L'Afrique after the occupation of East Jerusalem by Israeli forces in the Six Day War, 9 june 1967, Vol XVI No. 23.

The Jewish Observer and Middle East Review was founded in 1952, replacing the Zionist Review as the official publication of the Zionist Federation of Britain.[1] The journal ceased publication in 1977 and was eventually replaced by the resurrection of the Zionist Review in 1982.

According to Emanuel Litvinoff who became Assistant Editor at the Observer in the mid 1950s:

I found myself a job on a journal called The Jewish Observer and Middle East Review. In fact I was one of the founders of it because there had been a previous weekly called The Zionist Review, they had taken on rather a good journalist as the editor. ...Jon Kimche, who... had a pretty good reputation as a war correspondent actually and a war expert, a military expert for I think The Observer and The Evening Standard and he had plans to turn this funny little magazine The Zionist Review into something more substantial so I was in at the planning stage and I became the Assistant Editor.[2]


It was former editor Maurice Samuelson who announced the closure of the journal at the end of 1977.

The Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, the world's oldest Zionist weekly paper, closed down this week because of lack of funds. The organ of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain first appeared more than 60 years ago under the title Zionist Review. It was given its present name in 1952. The demise of the paper followed the withdrawal of a direct subsidy by the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, which had kept it in business for the past three years. Previously, it had been largely financed by a block subscription by the Joint Israel Appeal. The ending of the block subscription caused the circulation to be cut from more than 12,000 copies a week to about 4000.
Some of the outstanding figures in Zionism had been associated with the Review. The paper opened in May 1917 on the instigation of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, then president of the British Zionist Federation. Sir Leon Simon, a close friend of Weizmann, was the first editor. Later editors included Paul Goodman, the Rev. Maurice Perlzweig, Moshe Pearlman and Dr. S. Levenberg. In announcing the closing of the paper, the Zionist Federation said they hope to bring out a monthly magazine in the middle of 1978, concentrating on ideological articles rather than news analysis.[3]


Under the editorship of Kimche the Observer was not always ideologically unbending. It employed Emanuel Litvinoff, the former Communist - who 'was not a Zionist'[4] - whose final published novel, Falls the Shadow (1983), included an Israeli citizen who is revealed as a former concentration camp guard. '"Litvinoff knew his book would be found provocative," says Wright, "but he wrote it because he was worried by the way Israel was invoking the memory of the Holocaust to justify outrages of its own."'[5] Paul Kohn worked as a writer for the Observer and in later life was said to 'maintain he's an unrepentant non-Zionist and stays [in Israel] because of the weather.'[6]

According to Joseph Finklestone in an obituary for the Guardian:

It was as editor of the Jewish Observer and Middle East Review from 1952 to 1967 that Kimche displayed all his passion for Zionism, his incisive writing, his independence, his insistence that all sides of the Arab-Israel problem must be fearlessly discussed - and his propensity to shock. So worried was the Zionist Federation, which published the journal, that an official was assigned to read all the proofs before publication. Kimche managed to avoid his censor, to the consternation of the ZF leaders. However, they learned of his intention to print an article claiming that unemployment in Israel was twice as high as had been officially disclosed and emigration was on the rise. Kimche refused to withdraw the article, the ZF refused to print the magazine containing it - and Kimche was sacked. Kimche had been accused of interfering in Israel's internal affairs - but it was the direct intervention of the Israeli prime minister that led to Kimche's dismissal. This revealed what a vital journal the Observer had become for anyone interested in the Middle East.[7]

Editorial staff


  • Jon Kimche edited the Jewish Observer and Middle East Review from 1952 to 1967.[7] In March 1967, Kimche's publishers, the board of directors of the Zionist Review dismissed him after a dispute in which he accused their major stockholder, the Zionist Federation of Britain of censorship of material in the magazine. The Zionist Federation was the principal stockholder in the Zionist Review, publisher of the Observer. In an open letter to Kimche, The board denied that the dispute was prompted by an intervention some days earlier by Israel's Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who had objected to an article criticising Israel's Minister of Justice Yaacov Shapiro. The board charged Kimche with ignoring instructions from the editorial committee not to print an article on unemployment in Israel, which the committee considered misleading.[8][9]
  • Dr. L. Schafler (served as acting editor since early March 1967, named managing editor from 22 March 1967).[10]
  • Maurice Samuelson (Spent more than four years at the Observer including in the post of Assistant editor, before taking over as editor from 22 March 1967[10] a position he held for 'more then seven' years.[11]

Assistant editors and other staff

  • Arye Haskel 'In the early 1970s, when I was editor of the London-based Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, Arye was its Jerusalem correspondent.'[14]
  • Jan Shure, Deputy Editor. According to Shure: 'Around three decades ago, I was deputy editor at a small, now defunct, UK publication called the Jewish Observer and Middle East Review.'[15] This suggests she worked there around the mide 1970s in the last few years of the publication of the journal, which ceased publication in 1977. She also noted that:
In common with the JC, it devoted a great number of column inches to the issue of Palestinian propaganda on UK campuses. Apart from news stories in both publications reporting the avalanche of Arab propaganda on campus, and a small, heroic number of individual voices calling for the Jewish community to do more to help students combat it, the Jewish establishment failed to step up — with human resources, educational support, PR or advertising campaigns or cash — to counter the Palestinian narrative being imparted to students across British universities.[15]
  • Elkana Galli According to an Obituary: 'By the late 1950s,... Elkana Galli had returned to Europe, establishing a French edition of the Jewish Observer and Middle East Review. In the mid-sixties, he was Deputy Editor in London of the French and German editions of l'Observateur du Moyen Orient et de l'Africa, and Der Nahe Osten. He later published multi-language editions of a very intelligence-oriented newsletter on the Middle East, from Israel. Little wonder, then, that his long association with the Israeli leadership led him to become Director of Information Communications and Foreign Relations for Israel Aircraft Industries, for many years the largest industrial enterprise in the Middle East.[16]

Writers and journalists

  • Lionel Kochan 'For some time he was a journalist for theJewish Observer and Middle East Review.' According to an obituary 'Lionel Kochan's personal journey reflected his views on Jewish history and helps to explain his later opposition to the establishment in the United Kingdom of 27 January as a national day of Holocaust remembrance and more generally to what he condemned as the "Holocaust industry".'[17]
  • Paul Kohn 'In 1951 he joined the army and after service in a combat unit found himself eventually in the IDF Spokesman's Office beginning a long career in journalism which continued when he joined The Jerusalem Post in 1954 as a reporter in the Tel Aviv office.... After a few years as a Jewish Agency emissary in London, he returned to the Post as a sports journalist and stayed there until his retirement. Other journalistic posts were as an Associated Press stringer and writer for the now defunct Jewish Observer and Middle East Review in London.[6]


  1. Last Issue of “Zionist Review” of Britain Appears Today, JTA, 1 February 1952.
  2. 99.29/59 Interview with Emanuel Litvinoff, Interviewer: Hannah Berman, Date: 22nd January 1998
  3. Maurice Samuelson Oldest Zionist Paper Closed Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 29 December 1977.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Judith Burnley Emanuel Litvinoff obituary: Poet and novelist, born in the East End, who railed against the fate of the Jews in his work The Guardian, Monday 26 September 2011 18.24 BST
  5. 5.0 5.1 Paul Laity Review: A LIFE IN WRITING: Emanuel Litvinoff: Antisemitism was a sort of unwanted inheritance: you were lumbered with it. Now it was on the doorstep again. Interview by Paul Laity The Guardian (London) - Final Edition August 9, 2008 Saturday Pg. 10
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ian White 'Opening Pandora's box' Jerusalem Post, March 4, 2011 Friday Pg. 28.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Joseph Finklestone, SCOOPING THE MIDDLE EAST; Obituary: Jon Kimche, Guardian, 19 March 1994.
  8. Editor of London ‘Jewish Observer’ Dismissed by Zionist Federation, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 13 March 1967.
  9. For further details see the page on Jon Kimche
  10. 10.0 10.1 London ‘Jewish Observer’ Announces Appointment of New Editor' Jewish Telegraphic Agency, MARCH 23, 1967
  11. David Landau, Maurice Samuelson to cover talks in Cairo for JTA, JTA daily news bulletin, 13 December 1977, No. 233, p. 1
  12. Jewish Observer and Middle East Review, Vol. 26, 1977
  13. David Cesarani 'The Jewish press in a divided community: Geoffrey Paul, 1977–1990' pp. 236-247 Chapter 9 in The “Jewish Chronicle” and Anglo-Jewry, 1841–1991. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  14. Hyam Corney August 13: Arye Haskel: A tribute Jerusalem Post, 08/12/2009 21:11
  15. 15.0 15.1 Jan Shure 'We could have dealt with campus hate long ago: We are reaping the whirlwind of our past inability to counter anti-Jewish propaganda in universities, The February 12, 2009.
  16. GRC 'Elkana Galli', Defense & Foreign Affairs' Strategic Policy, September 2012 Pg. 18.