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The JC letters page, November 24th

Rosalind Copeland, Kay Bagon, Stan Labovitch, Claudia Mendoza, Shraga Zaltzman, David Levy and Gerald Silverstein share their views with JC readers

    Photo: Getty Images
    Photo: Getty Images

    Ajex — diary clash

     
    The annual Ajex Remembrance Ceremony took place last Sunday 19 November, as always on the Sunday immediately after National Remembrance Day.
     
    As always, it was a thoughtful, moving occasion, but was it necessary to have Mitzvah Day on the same day?
     
    The numbers on parade for Ajex are dwindling and the number of people who came to show support was also not high. 
     
    Therefore, would it not have been more of a mitzvah and shown respect to AJEX to have moved Mitzvah Day to one of the other many Sundays available ??
     
    Rosalind Copeland
    Cockfosters EN4
     
    On Sunday, for the first time, I took part in the Ajex Remembrance Service and Parade at the Cenotaph on Sunday, which was a moving tribute to the extraordinary service given to this country by British Jews since the 1750s and to the victims of the Holocaust. 
     
    I wondered, however, why we have a separate event from the National Remembrance Sunday, held the week before, when the The Royal British Legion calls on the nation to unite in commemorating all those who have served our country.
     
    Also, by holding the AJEX event on November 19 it coincided with Mitzvah Day and consequently those who attended were not able to take part in the various volunteering projects within their individual communities.
     
    Kay Bagon 
    Radlett, Herts
     

    Men suffer too

     
    While I sympathise with Susan Reuben’s trauma in trying to buy black mascara and a pair of tights, the real sufferers when going shopping are men ( Why don’t shop assistants speak my language? Comment,November 17). 
     
    Women love shopping, men hate it. Traipsing around a large department store for three hours with one’s dear wife — where she looks at every gimmicky gadget and fashion accessory-— can make one lose the will to live. Which probably explains why a woman’s favourite philosopher is Schopenhauer (shopping hour) and her favourite Chinese leader is Deng Xiaoping (done the shopping). 
     
    Stan Labovitch
    Windsor
     
     

    Debate is key

     
    I am writing in response to Wes Streeting’s defence of his decision ( JC, November 10) to attend the launch of Islamophobia Awareness Month.
     
    He is absolutely right to take seriously the issue of islamophobia but it is right for the JC and others to raise concerns about the forum in which it is addressed.
     
    I won’t list the concerns with Mend, the group behind the project, since it is clear from Mr Streeting’s letter that he is all too aware. However, the deplorable statements — as he refers to them — are not just made by people associated with the organisation, but by the people running it.
     
    Those of us who consider Mr Streeting to be an ally are confused as to why he would gift such an organisation legitimacy. 
    I will not go as far as this paper in ascribing motivation to his decision to attend because frankly, it doesn’t really matter. 
     
    Mend is an Islamist organisation with a world-view we should all shun and not just because of their views — however clandestine — on Jews and gays.  
     
    I support Mr Streeting’s high bar for “no platform” and think we should be less squeamish about who we debate. But the key word is debate, something you don’t get to do when you attend an event hosted by the group or individual you wish to challenge.
    Siema Iqbal, the chair of Mend’s working group in Manchester accused us and others of Islamophobia for calling her out on antisemitic comments she made on social media. 
     
    Since Mr Streeting has made it clear that he will continue to engage with Mend, perhaps he could ask them whether they really think it is Islamophobic to challenge antisemitism by Muslims. 
     
    If so, I contend that the challenge is insurmountable.
     
    Claudia Mendoza
    Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Jewish Leadership Council 
                                       

    As one

     
    Having read the story that World Jews are “more worried about Charedim than Arabs” ( JC, November 10) and find it hard to believe, if it is in fact true it is very sad.
     
    As Jews, we are fighting for our survival on so many fronts and the pejorative overtones of this article are very disturbing. 
     
    Across so many groups, Arabs, Charedim, etc, it is almost always the vocal minority who are the rabble-rousers and the silent majority of really good people who suffer the consequences. I am not saying that Charedi society in Israel is perfect — there is much work to be done—  but the fundamentals by which they aspire to live are based on kindness to one another (gemilut chesed) and a dedication to their religion and families.
     
    The modern world has to a large degree lost its moral compass, abandoned true family values and developed into a very self-centred society. 
     
    Perhaps this is what Charedim are trying to protect themselves against. I am in no way disparaging Arabs with whom I hope we can all live in peace very soon, but to publish this article is very unhelpful. I think that if we all just took a step back focused on what unites us rather than what divides us, the world would be a better place and, as a Jewish people, we would flourish and grow.
     
    Shraga Zaltzman MBE 
    London NW4 
     
     

    Proving the point

     
    It is probably too much to expect that the Reform clergywoman (who no doubt incomprehensibly to most men) objected to being told by a male congregant that she looked pretty ( JC, Nov 17), will now realise why traditional (authentic) Judaism does not consider it appropriate for women to be rabbis or lead prayer services. 
     
    It distracts the men. There is no point in expecting men to change. The same Almighty who is being prayed to in these services created men exactly like that — so that they would have an impulse for reproduction in order that the human species would perpetuate itself and not die out.
     
    Obvious really!
     
    David Levy
    London N3
     
     
    In the female “rabbi” ’s complaint about harassment, I notice she did not mention if she would also complain if complimented by a female congregant
     
    For her benefit, I went up to our (male) rabbi and said I thought he looked very nice. He smiled and said thank you, which goes to prove that comments can be made by males to males. Why can’t a male pay compliments to a female without it causing ridiculous concern?
     
    Gerald Silverstein
    Edgware, Middlesex
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