In memory of pro-Israel activist Garry Grolman

Our UK Media Watch family just lost a dear friend.  Garry Grolman, who succumbed to cancer earlier in the week in Tel Aviv at the age of 72, was a tireless defender of Israel and one of the founding volunteers of the group (CiF Watch) formed in 2009 that would become – along with BBC Watch – part of CAMERA’s UK brand. 

Garry, who made Aliyah from Bournemouth over fifty years ago, was an online activist who confronted anti-Zionists, and other anti-Semites, in comment sections (mostly at the Guardian) with flair, eloquence and – more often than not – humour.  He both inspired and organised others to do the same at other online media outlets. He also had a way with words that allowed those who knew him to recognize his unique prose almost immediately, even though he used pseudonyms and frequently had to change monikers (he’d be FrancisBullucks one day and KunningStunt another), since merely expressing support for Israel was sometimes enough to get banned by Guardian moderators.

Indeed, the original CiF Watch‘ group was created to confront a virulently anti-Israel agenda above the line, and the cesspit of anti-Jewish hate below the line at CiF (Comment is Free, the Guardian’s opinion page) – as well as their extremely biased moderation.  Garry was among those in our team that slowly influenced the Guardian to improve their moderation – to, for instance, more promptly delete antisemitic comments, and to check their impulse to immediately delete pro-Israel comments.

Garry was active online till near the very end of his life in pursuit of setting the record straight about Israel, for the benefit of both those outside and inside the country. As a man of the left he often criticised Israel’s leaders, but he passionately loved the country he chose as his home.

In the end, we’re told that he died peacefully, surrounded by friends who loved and cared deeply about him – as well as his beloved dog Bonnie.

Though he was fiercely secular, he was also extremely tolerant of those who weren’t, and I don’t think he would have objected to us expressing our wish that his memory be a blessing.

Garry (2)

Garry Grolman, z”l

14 replies »

  1. Garry had kept in contact, I last heard from him in October, he knew what was coming. I only met him once but of course we interacted countless times in the runup to Cifwatch and in the years that followed. He was always brutally honest and often very funny, he had a unique was of saying things without wasting a word and without pulling any punches. He was a very creative programmer but also a stimulating advocacy colleague, things which don’t always go together.

    Garry’s memory lives on in what we and now many others do in combating antisemitism. He helped make a real difference to Guardian: Comment Is Free which is almost unrecognisable from the cesspit of ten years ago.

    Yes, Garry’s memory is truly for a blessing though yes, he might personally wrestle with that sentiment.

    A huge ‘Thank You’ to all in Israel who cared for Garry in his last months.

    Jonathan Hoffman

  2. I was in touch with Garry until very recently. It was a comfort to hear from him that he was surrounded by friends and neighbors who helped him through the pain and weakness of his last days. He was a remarkable, caring friend who is now missed by many.

  3. I had never heard of Garry, and wonder if I have read his posts before? About eight or ten years ago there was a commenter in these pages who wrote long and the best informed rebuttals. That persons detailed knowledge was encyclopedic when it came to Zionist history. He or She lamented at the at times coarse writing in the comments section. If any reader has a link to these past conversations please post one here. The information is still needed today. There is simply too much information on this site to ever find particular threads again.

    I am not Jewish but CiF Watch and my Hebrew mates have turned me into a passionate Zionist. Along with the ever rising antisemitism here in Europe. My Zionism “peaked” in 2013 when I joined Kibbutz Samar for nine months in the dairy and the kitchen. I was in my early forties then. I loved every day. I would travel to Israel so often that I was eventually pulled over by immigration at Ben Gurion. The lady interviewer looked at my online file and said ” Daniel, you have spent so much time in Israel. You live here! ” All on tourist and volunteer visas. She gave me another two weeks to get my things in order and leave.

    in Samar I would meet David Sheen. I knew who he was, but never let him know I knew who he is. But that is another story.

    • You met Garry here too. He appeared as FelixShepton.

      In the Guardian’s comments columns his writing style was distinguished by using a string of ironic adjectives, nasty, evil, wicked Israel
      You might have seen him as WheelyBin16 or JerusalemMite or BonkinforBernie in fact he had several 100 identities, most of them “banned”

      The mods kept trying to quiet this irreverent obtrusive voice but as a programmer he was way ahead of any way they could use to identify him. He frequently had several live monickers at the same time.

      How sad that we can’t do that for him.

      • If you use the links on the right of this page you can go back to the early work as far as 2009 and get a sense of how fanatically anti-Israeli the Guardian editorial staff running Comment is Free (CIiF) was (Georgina Henri, Rustbucket himself, to name only two of the worst, and now Katherine Viner continuing the same nasty efforts whenever possible), and the horrendous antisemitism below the line that appeared in the threads. You will also see how they used “as-a-Jews” to write the worst of the articles – Seth Freedman, Tony Lerman, etc., – all finally vanished largely as a result of the analysis and rebuttals of their lies and errors you remember from the article which appeared then. The Guardian’s efforts continue, but are now largely diminished thanks to the efforts of Adam in particular and it is a rare day they dare open an article for comments below the line as many Israel supporters awoke to what was going on.

        Garry’s major role was in bringing all the contributors to CiFWatch and then UK Media Watch together, and his constant badgering of the Guardian below the line with his wonderful, ever changing monikers as they kept banning him, only for him to pop up under anew name and continue his good work!!

        • When Garry first got in touch with me on the cif site the Guardian was running up to six anti-Israel articles at a time and the comments were open for weeks. There was no limit it seemed. The only restrictions were on saying something positive about Israel. In that atmosphere Garry’s irony was a powerful weapon and he used it with glee.

          The mods ruled.they allowed the lies against Israel to stand Any mention of Hamas was deleted then as now. Garry’s hints and winks, his elbow nudges were hugely successful.

          A combination of the harrying on line and UKMediaWatch’s picking on the most outrageous lies have certainly wrought changes

          Now comments are only opened for hours and most articles are not opened at all to comment, but the lies continue.

  4. It is through Cif Watch that I would understand 972mag and that cesspool. I started reading Jonathan Hoffmann, David Collier, Gnasher Jew, David Hirsh, Caroline Glick, SPME, Robert Wistrich, NGO Monitor, Canary Mission …… In my hunger for better information I found the library at the JCC on Fasanenstrasse in Berlin. When the librarian saw I was serious, she showed me the basement section where the “serious Zionist” literature was kept. And all because of Cif Watch.
    Thank You Adam!

  5. He was always fun. When with him you’d never really knew about our joint fight against antisemitism as he never discussed it; his love of Israel on the couple of times I met him there were what was most important. He loved the different fruits he grew there and always came with an offering of it when we met. When I was in Israel when it was very cold once he came with a bootload of different coats for me to try on. He drove me to the Golan, picking me up at 6.30am, for a memorable day out I will never forget. He was lovely. I am just upset I didn’t realise how bad his situation was and so I didn’t get to lift the phone even when i was in Israel. He’ll never be forgotten.

  6. If it wasn’t for Garry once contacting me on CIF I would have never participated in this whole endeavor .
    He reached out to me, as he probably did to others, and offered an introduction to a couple of online friemds who later became Cifwatch as we started to monitor the nasty at the Guardian, and later other outlets.

    He was an open, direct and honest person. Honest to himself and always honest with us.
    We will miss him dearly and we will never forget him and his inspiration. Neither will we ever forget his humor, his wit, and his funny monikers he used to circumvent the blog police.

    Rest in Peace old Friend