Britain remains very good place to be Jewish, says Jewish News editor

The editor of a UK-based Jewish newspaper has said Britain “remains a very good place to be Jewish” amid ongoing tensions caused by the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Justin Cohen, 43, also described reporting on the first few months of the conflict for Jewish News as “incredibly intense”.

Mr Cohen, from Borehamwood in Hertfordshire, was made an MBE for services to Holocaust Remembrance and the Jewish community by the Prince of Wales on Tuesday, after being named in the New Year Honours list.

The Prince of Wales pins an MBE medal on Justin Cohen inside Windsor Castle
Mr Cohen spoke with the Prince of Wales about his work at Jewish News (Jonathan Brady/PA)

There have been many flare-ups involving Jewish groups across the UK since Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7 last year, including at pro-Palestinian and antisemitism marches in London.

Two men appeared in court last month accused of plotting to carry out an Islamic State-inspired gun attack against a Jewish community in the north-west of England.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Cohen said: “Thinking at this point that Jewish-Muslim relations have failed because there are issues with it is a dereliction of duty.

“For anyone who’s a proud Jewish Brit or Muslim Brit, we are going to be living together for many more years to come so there is a responsibility to continue those relations going forward.”

He added: “Despite some reports to the contrary, Britain remains, I think, a very good place to be Jewish, far from the suggestions that people are running away or packing their bags.”

Mr Cohen said he went to school with one of the British Israelis who was named as having been killed on October 7.

Asked how he found reporting on the conflict, he said: “The first couple of months, October, November, were like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

“I was hearing constantly from the hostage families in Israel who were speaking to the national media.

“It was incredibly intense, but all the way we have done our very best to present a balanced view.”

Mr Cohen said he spoke with William about the circulation of Jewish News, a free weekly newspaper, as well as the challenges of recent months and any antisemitism concerns from readers as he received his royal honour at Windsor Castle.

He previously worked with the Princess of Wales on a photography exhibition in which Her Majesty helped take pictures of some of the UK’s last remaining Holocaust survivors, and said Kate “went so far above and beyond” to help out with the project.

Mr Cohen has worked at Jewish News for more than 23 years after starting at the newspaper on a work experience placement.

Asked about his career with the newspaper, he said: “To be a journalist working within a community that I’m part of, and covering on a daily basis issues that are of interest to my family and friends and affects them directly very often, is something quite unique.”