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The JC letters page, November 17th

Barrington Black, Andrew M. Rosemarine, Keith Myers, Barry Hyman, Alan Miller, Norma Brier, Harry Levy , Robert Coleman and Ruth Rothenberg share their views with JC readers

    Photo: Getty Images
    Photo: Getty Images

    Sheer incompetence?

    Having just witnessed, in the Commons,  the character assassination of Priti Patel, a genuine friend of Israel, I wonder at the sheer naivety and incompetence of those who should have known better, and led her into the trap of speaking, no matter how genuinely, to politicians in Israel without observing the protocol of notification or presence of the proper observers.  

    It is unbelievable that they could not have anticipated the outburst from those who will jump at every opportunity to castigate Israel. 

    Moreover, to add to the fuel of Government destruction and pave the way for Corbyn is unforgivable. The distribution of information on Israel’s positive acts, particularly to the doubtful, should be left to a grown-up organisation without ulterior motives of personal or political aggrandisement.

    Barrington Black
    London NW3

    Does Priti Patel really deserve the opprobrium being heaped on her for exploring humanitarian help for Syrian war victims, and for meeting an Israeli premier?  

    Ms Patel has been naïve in not informing the PM and FCO earlier and not meeting Arab leaders on the same visit, but her motives were good, and British-Israeli governmental relations would have been strengthened, had she not been hounded over her meetings.

    Andrew M. Rosemarine 
    Salford M7 

    Vital vocabulary

    I am worried that we are losing the PR battle because we use the vocabulary of our “oppressors” because that is easier than challenging the loaded language. 

    Palestinians — implies the Muslims and a decreasing number of Christians are the only people from Palestine, and yet we know there were Palestinian Arabs  (Muslim and Christian) Druze, and Palestinian Jews from 1920-1948, with the Jews, Druze and some of the Arabs becoming Israelis.

    Two-state solution — implies that the “Palestinians” don’t have a state when they were given 80 per cent of the mandate in the 1920s to form the Jew-free state of Jordan.  So why not call it the three-state solution to better represent reality?

    West Bank — now this is what the Jordanians called the area when they illegally occupied it from 1948-1967.  

    Occupied Palestinian Territories — but there has never been a Palestinian state on the area or anywhere 

    Occupied Territories — but there was no state there before Israel, unless you count the Ottomans.  So how about “Disputed territories”? It doesn’t say who it belongs to but says Israel is looking for a solution.

    I would encourage you to mind your language and not use lazy shorthand that has been created to wear down Israel’s legitimacy

    Keith Myers, 
    Edgware, Middlesex


    Mind your Language

    David Aaronovitch’s reference to Yiddish phrases (Nov 3) brings to mind my parents who used the odd phrase having grown up with Yiddish-speaking parents.  We never wiped out hands on a towel, but on a hantech. The sink in pre J-cloth days contained a shmutter. If I told my father I was bored and what should I do, I was told to klap kop un vant. If I asked too many questions it was Verdreh mir nisht in kop or Hack mir nisht in chainik.

    I was warned against being a ganser k’nacker,  but always told by my mum to ess gezinteheyt. Somehow none of it sounds so poetic in English.  
    When, however, a friend and I passed the local grocer and, hearing him speak Yiddish, said friend called out Kish mir in tuchas, he chased us up the street. 

    Barry Hyman
    Bushey Heath, Herts

    Love wins through

    Reading the recent letters from readers who took their partners’ passports in error reminds me of a situation in which I found myself in 1957. The lady to whom I was engaged was an air-hostess on Skyways, a now long-defunct airline. I was visiting her when the captain mentioned that there was a spare seat if I wanted to accompany them to Paris.

    I did not have my passport with me but was assured that, as they were returning the same day and I would not leave the “airside” area of the French airport, the lack of a passport would not be a problem. 

    In the event, weather conditions prevented the return flight and arrangements were made for the crew to spend the night in Paris. At first, the immigration officer was adamant that I would have to spend the night in the airport but, upon being informed that I was the fiancé of the air-hostess, the mood changed. L’amour trumped lack of passport and I was presented with a laissez-passer allowing me to accompany the crew to the hotel in Paris.

    The air-hostess and I will be celebrating our diamond wedding early next year.

    Alan Miller 
    London N20


    Men’s club

    Following Abi Symons’s comments on an all-male property round table, I refer to the JC Balfour supplement of November 3 with 15 fascinating articles, every single one written by a man. 

    In 2014, Women in Jewish Leadership ran a campaign to highlight the problem of all-male panels and the importance of diversity and inclusion when examining and commenting on any issue affecting the Jewish community. This campaign was supported by eminent men such as Jonathan Freedland, Daniel Finkelstein and David Dangoor but still it seems that change is resisted. Clearly, we still have a long way to go to ensure that we hear women’s voices on issues which matter.

    Norma Brier 
    Co-Chair, Women 
    in Jewish Leadership
    Pinner, HA5

    Unrecognisable

    Reading about the terrible “experiences” so many women seem to have had with so many men, both now and in the past, makes me think that my life has taken place in another world.

    Here I am, 83 years of age, married to the same beautiful lady for more than 60 years, with family consisting of  both sexes. I was a professional footballer in my teens, and actively involved in cricket, boxing and athletics. I spent two years in the military and a whole career of over 50 years in media (newspapers, radio, magazines etc) where, over time, I operated at all levels, from junior to managing director and chairman. 

    Yet, I must have been living in a different world to those who were being sexually assaulted and harassed by most of my male relatives, friends, and colleagues. As for journalists, reporters, editors, whether from the JC or elsewhere, they were, presumably, fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins, yet apparently, sexual attackers and harassers also. Of course it goes on, and always has.

    A warning at the time and then, if it happens again, a punch in the face — both delivered in public — regardless of who it is , will always work. I can never understand, either, why nothing happens if the lady being attacked or harassed tells her father, or brother, or boyfriend — or husband.  

    Incidentally, I do not recognise at all the JC editorial department in the 1970s, which I knew quite well, described by Gloria Tessler  (Life, Nov 10).

    Harry Levy
    Pinner, HA5


    Misjudgment

    In a rather belated response to Rosa Doherty’s article of October 24, concerning a public appearance of Gilad Atzmon, I would like to take issue with certain comments reported therein.

    Rabbi Zvi Solomons is quoted as calling Mr  Atzmon “a notorious antisemite”, and says that “he has promoted Holocaust denial, compared Israelis to the Nazis” and  Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies, holds that no “reputable event should feature Gilad Atzmon”, opinions I respectfully but vigorously disagree with.

    Firstly, is  Mr. Atzmon truly an antisemite? An antisemite as defined by who, and by what criteria? Should we not apply ourselves to these questions before we  brand anyone with such a grave charge, however objectionable (nay, offensive!) their opinions be? As far as I know, and I may be wrong, Mr Atzmon has never denied that the  Holocaust happened but rather has opposed laws which seek to prohibit its denial; and did Mr Atzmon really compare all Israelis to Nazis, or is his clumsy and admittedly provocative critique of Israeli policies being taken as proof of something much more sinister? 

    Even were Mr Atzmon to confess himself as a most virulent antisemite, both tactically and on principle, the last thing we should do is seek to ban him from “reputable” public events; rather, we should  welcome any  and every opportunity to debate him and people with similar ideas, with facts and well-reasoned arguments that will show any fair-minded, rational person how ill-founded Mr Atzmon’s discourse is. 

    And before anyone accuses me of being naive and unrealistic in adopting this response, I would counter that to silence or “shut him down” truly plays into genuine antisemites’ hands (eg: ”Look, the Zionists are trying to shut up honest dissenters again”) and leaves a  part of the intellectual field to them.

    Robert Coleman 
    London W17


    Where’s the thanks?

    Now that the centenary fuss over the Balfour Declaration has died down, I am left with a feeling of puzzlement.

    It was never put into practice, except for around the first five years, including the establishment of the Hebrew University in 1925.

    The declaration’s second statement was its concern for the existing non-Jewish population. The British Government took this obligation seriously and, when that population objected to Jewish immigration, made it more and more difficult for Jews to enter the country, despite the stated intent of the declaration. When entry became literally a matter of life and death in 1939, with the start of the Second World War, no Jews were allowed refuge there.

    Much of the six million Jewish death toll could have been saved if Britain had stuck to the declaration. The Arabs were “spared” this number which would indeed have swamped them.

    So where is their gratitude to Britain? Instead, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanded an apology from Theresa May.

    Maybe there should have been an Israeli demand for a counter apology for Britain’s (largely successful) efforts to quash the declaration. The difference in attitude speaks volumes.

    Ruth Rothenberg
    London NW3


     

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