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.