Response to Brian Fox

By Jonathan Hoffman
November 20, 2009

Reform Rabbi Brian Fox attacked me in the Jewish Telegraph on 6 November:

"LIKE many others I was appalled, and even ashamed, of Jonathan Hoffman's 'contribution' in Bolton at the Octagon Theatre which was so admirably reported on by Gita Conn. I am sure that Mr Hoffman loves Israel, but so did Meir Kahane. Tony Sheldon may have been there, but he certainly was not listening. I did not say that being there was more important than the requirements of Shabbat. All the Jews who were there probably broke Shabbat just to be there. Like me they made a value judgement. What I actually said was that if there was an opportunity to have real dialogue with Palestinians I would turn up on Yom Kippur. Does that mean I do not keep Yom Kippur? Not at all. It is Shabbat Shabbaton: the greatest of all Shabbats. But dialogue with our enemy and maybe even saving lives must take precedence. Judaism makes value judgements all the time: it is permitted to sell a Torah scroll to save a Jewish day school. It is permitted to break Shabbat to save a life. We are living in dangerous times. Bullying a la Mr Hoffman and selected hearing a la Mr Sheldon will not help."
Rabbi Brian D Fox, Menorah (Cheshire Reform) Synagogue, Sharston, Cheshire.

The Jewish Telegraph printed my reponse today but it is not in the online version - so here it is:

"Brian Fox was quoted in [a recent JC] as saying "People are tired of being condemned". Would that he practised what he preached. His condemnation of me by disingenuously comparing me to Meir Kahane (Jewish Telegraph, 6 November) is utterly contemptible but says nothing about me and everything about him. He accuses me of "bullying" at the Octagon Theatre on October 24th. The dictionary defines "bully" as one who intimidates a weaker person. Maybe he could enlighten your readers as to how, in being prepared to condemn "Seven Jewish Children" as antisemitic, I 'bullied" an audience where I was outnumbered by at least 75-1 by those who did not so condemn it (including him)."

Here is the background:



Fri, 11/20/2009 - 11:18

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I suggest you read the piece by Anshel Pfeffer, sometimes of this parish, in Haaretz, in which he writes

But the real problem with today's Israel lobby, in Britain and the United States, is not with its finances and their lack of transparency but with its entire mind-set. The basic fact is that by its actions, the lobby is now causing Israel more harm than good. That's the point Oborne almost totally missed. On every level - moral, political, diplomatic, economic, military and religious - this country is being rapidly corrupted and damaged by the continuing occupation of the West Bank. By granting blanket support to all policies of whatever Israeli government happens to be in power, and by branding critics of these policies as either self-hating Jews or anti-Semites, they're contributing to Israel's siege mentality and delaying the day when Israelis will finally realize that there's only one practical and ethical alternative.


Such support could prolong Israel's procrastination - with deadly consequences.

So, in effect, lobbyists are harming, rather than helping, Israel


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