An appreciation- Journalist Bernard Josephs:

An appreciation of an old-school journalist, who's death left a void in British and Jewish journalism.

Bernard Josephs worked for The Jerusalem Post in the 1980s (photo credit: Courtesy)
Bernard Josephs worked for The Jerusalem Post in the 1980s
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The untimely death of old-school journalist Bernard Josephs in London at the age of 71 on December 1, 2019 has left a void in the Jewish and British newspaper world and among his family, friends and colleagues who enjoyed his warmth and modesty.
Known as “Bernie the Red,” he strongly believed in the traditional labor ethic and was a lifelong member of the British National Union of Journalists.
Born in Essex, the grandson of Polish immigrants, his career began in 1968 on a local paper, The Loughton Express and Independent. He quickly graduated to Fleet Street to work on the former Evening News, eventually with the job of deputy news editor. The iconic London street that originally housed all the major newspapers and journals was home to him and he had his own beer mug in the “Mucky Duck” pub there.
To the surprise of his colleagues, he gave it all up in 1978 when he made aliyah with his family and became a farmer on Kibbutz Tzova, where he worked with the cows and chickens, pruned trees and drove tractors.
But he could not resist journalism for long and in 1981 the family moved to Jerusalem when he was offered a job at The Jerusalem Post, at the same time working as correspondent for the London Evening Standard and the Sunday Express.
There were many changes in The Jerusalem Post during the 1980s and several journalists left the paper because of the increasing right-wing leanings.
Bernie with his labor ethics sympathized with them. But the news that hit the headlines in 1986 was the Vanunu affair when Bernie was wrongly accused of leaking the story to the Evening Standard. Mordechai Vanunu had been kidnapped in Italy as a whistleblower who had revealed nuclear secrets to the British press. The Evening Standard broke the story and the message on Vanunu’s hand when he was captured, and Bernie who was their overseas correspondent was plagued by the Secret Services, accused of violating the censorship of the story. The Standard’s editor insisted that Bernie was not the source but the Government Press Office suspended all privileges to him and in fact he was threatened with a lengthy prison sentence if the case had been proved. Bernie was personally and professionally deeply insulted for he described himself as a proud Israeli citizen, having completed service in the army and with strong Zionist ideals that had led to him giving up a far more lucrative career in the UK.
With not a shred of evidence against him, the case was dropped and he was exonerated. Meanwhile, his children were experiencing some educational problems and without all the opportunities that exist today, he and his family decided that learning in their mother tongue would be easier for them.
The family returned to London where he worked as political and diplomatic editor for The Jewish Chronicle until his retirement, but continued to write a column about Israel for the Standard.
Colleagues at The Jewish Chronicle appreciated Bernie’s wicked sense of humor and work ethic. A quiet and modest person, he nevertheless was annoyed by the behavior of a group of Israeli school kids on the London Tube and speaking to them in fluent Hebrew he threatened to tell their head teacher and parents. The surprised pupils sat down in stunned silence.
Josephs was passionate about family values. His own mother died soon after he was born and he was looked after by his devoted aunts and extended family until his father remarried. A half-brother Philip lives in New Zealand.
His most difficult time in Israel was when serving in the IDF and having to leave his family for extended periods, but he felt that this was an essential part of his life as an Israeli and continued to serve regular reserve duty.
He is sorely missed by his former colleagues and deeply mourned by his wife Billie, his children Gidon and Orli, and his grandchildren.