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The JC letters page, 13th April

Les Cazin, Judith Ornstein, Andrew Fisch, R Dassa, Susan Field, Mark Goldberg, Henry R. Magrill, Stuart Harris, Maurice Vidowsky, Dr Jacqueline H Reynolds, Ian Napper and Jenny Kassman Julia Bard Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz Louisa S Kaplin Julian Lousada Sue Lukes Prof. Mica Nava Jenny Richardson David Rosenberg Monika Schwartz Prof. Lynne Segal Annabelle Sreberny Ruth Steigman Annette Thomas Dr Gillian Yudkin and Prof. John S Yudkin share their views with JC readers

    Time to talk

     
    The BoD, JLC, CAA, JC  and whoever else, all need to sit down and talk.
     
    It probably needs a mutually agreed arbitrator to help these talented and good leaders and organisations to realise it’s time to focus on solutions and respect differences of approach. It’s time to put aside the past and to reach a  detente for the sake of all of us at this dreadful time. 
     
    If those involved can’t recognise or do this, regardless of any wrongs that  have led to this horrible internal situation, then they honestly sacrifice the right to be called leaders  and leave the British Jewish community rudderless.  This is a plea.
     
    Judith Ornstein, Producer of the Whitewashed Project, www.whitewashed.co.uk
    Bushey, Herts
     
    It is sadly true that the biggest problem that Jews face in this country is the constant display of antagonism displayed by various factions within it. Do people not realise that antisemites loathe  all Jews, not just some depending on their religious or political views ?  
     
    We can learn from the recent display of cohesion shown by the the JLC and the Board in how to work together and display a show of strength and unity.  It is time we all heeded this warning in order that we don’t provide any further reason for those who hate us to see disquiet amongst our own people.
     
    Andrew Fisch,
    London NW8 
     
    I was shocked to hear the Board of Deputies criticising Corbyn for going to a Seder with the “ wrong Jews”. The role of the BoD is to be “the voice of the British Jewish community”, not to decide who is the “right” kind of Jew. By doing this they have shown themselves to be disingenuous in their recent attacks on the Labour party.
     
    Labour may have a problem with antisemitism they are committed to fix; the Tories have a problem with the poor, vulnerable and young, the NHS, social care, schools, housing, nurses, doctors, libraries and nefarious deals with the DUP. 
     
    My daughter’s school, JFS, had to make staff redundancies due to government funding cuts; my mother had a stroke in November and waited four hours for an ambulance — everyday is a struggle to get the care she needs; my son will be leaving university and starting his young life with debts of over £50,000. For all those reasons I will be voting Labour in the next elections. 
     
    The BoD are being divisive, they need to realise that their duty is to represent me too. We are all Jewish, whatever our political or ideological differences, stop trying to break up our community. 
     
    R Dassa, 
    London N5
     
    Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner is reported as having attended the Jewdas Seder but left immediately upon seeing Mr Corbyn.
    Surely, as Senior Rabbi of Reform Judaism, Rabbi Janner-Klausner should check the hosts (and their values) of any event to which she is invited before deciding whether or not to attend. 
     
    Susan Field, 
    Preston PR2
     
     

    Corbyn’s aims

     
    Daniel Finkelstein (JC  April 5) writes that Jeremy Corbyn divides the world between the oppressors and the oppressed. “Jewdas he sees as for the oppressed, while the Jewish communal bodies, erm, aren’t. Like Israel.” 
     
    To many people, this is unsatisfactory and irrelevant. Unless Corbyn is unmasked or removed, they will regard Labour — former political home of Jews in the UK — as irredeemably tainted by antisemitism. But what to do about it apart from demanding “action”?
     
    Finkelstein’s astute analysis holds the key: get back to our roots. After all, as we are fond of telling everybody, who knows more about suffering and oppression than we do?  
     
    In almost every Western country, Jews are amongst the most successful and upwardly mobile ethnic groups. In less than three generations we have grown from humble shoemakers, carpenters and tailors to leadership in industry, commerce and the professions, and gained the wealth that comes with those achievements. What we have given back to the community has been massive, but with little impact, apparently, on many outside of our own community, which has benefited significantly if not quite unilaterally. That needs to change. 
     
    So let’s do a Jewdas on Jeremy. When the BoD and the JLC sit down with Labour leaders let them discuss how our community can actively promote their agenda to target the massive gaps in our society. Let our property tycoons lead the battle on homelessness. Let our Law Lords lead the battle to extricate young Afro-Carribeans from gang-warfare and knife-crime.
     
    Let our bankers, lawyers and accountants lead the war on tax-evasion, money laundering and tax havens to benefit society as a whole. Let our Ofsted-beating schools offer scholarships to youth from deprived backgrounds. Let our well-endowed Jewish institutions share their resources and expertise with the sick, disabled and disadvantaged in the wider community.
     
    And, above all, let our communal leaders and spokesmen unflinchingly denounce injustice, inequality and oppression from whichever source it stems — including Israel. After all, as the Talmud says: he who does not do so is responsible for its consequences.
     
    Will that end all antisemitism? Of course not. Could it remove some essential components of that disease such as conflation of Jews with oppressors, exploiters, colonialists and the like? Maybe. Even if it does not, what greater demonstration could there be that Jews do care for the many, not just the Jew.
     
    Mark Goldberg, 
    London NW11
     
    Malvyn Benjamin’s tongue in cheek thought ( Letters April 6) that Jeremy Corbyn is working closely with the Aliyah Department to increase emigration to Israel is not as irreverent as he suggests. After all, we have it on good authority that Adolf Hitler adopted a similar strategy in the early 1930s.
     
    Henry R. Magrill, 
    London W2
     
    “Leaders have to listen” says Jeremy Corbyn. How come Jeremy Corbyn only listens to extremists not moderates ?
     
    Stuart Harris, 
    London N12 
     
    I am retired and a lifelong Jewish Labour Party member. In view of recent events I wrote to the Party and said I was stopping my direct debit and withdrawing my membership until further notice.
     
    Nobody has bothered to contact me. Nobody has tried to discuss this with me or clarify what could be done to make me reconsider.
     
    Clearly my lifelong membership (and some voluntary work) is not of any great value to the party at this time.
     
    Maurice Vidowsky, 
    London N8
     
    As Jewish Labour Party members in Islington North we know from experience that our MP, Jeremy Corbyn is a strong believer in human rights and  respects and values minority communities here, including our Jewish one. We are sure that the same applies to his leadership of the Labour Party.
     
    We are dismayed by unbalanced media reporting ahead of the local elections of allegations of antisemitism against Jeremy.
     
    We believe this partly results from his legitimate criticism of Israel’s cruel and racist treatment towards its Palestinian and Bedouin populations. This is because one definition of antisemitism includes criticism of the Israeli state as racist. We reject that definition. Indeed, many Israelis criticise actions of their state.
     
    Any genuine antisemites and racists among the 600,000 members of the Labour Party should be challenged and, if necessary, expelled. The recommendations in the Chakrabarti Report will greatly help deal with such abuse.
     
    We dissociate ourselves from the accusations of antisemitism made against Jeremy by the Board of Deputies and some Labour MPs. We confirm our confidence and support for Jeremy as MP and as a future prime minister of this country.  
     
    Jenny Kassman (Finsbury Park Branch)
    Julia Bard (St George’s Branch)
    Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz (Junction Branch)
    Louisa S Kaplin ( Junction Branch)
    Julian Lousada (Highbury East Branch)
    Sue Lukes (Highbury East Branch)
    Prof. Mica Nava (St George’s Branch)
    Jenny Richardson (Tollington Branch)
    David Rosenberg (St George’s Branch)
    Monika Schwartz (Junction Branch)
    Prof. Lynne Segal (Highbury East Branch)
    Annabelle Sreberny (Highbury East Branch)
    Ruth Steigman (St George’s Branch)
    Annette Thomas (St George’s Branch)
    Dr Gillian Yudkin (St George’s Branch)
    Prof. John S Yudkin (St George’s Branch) 
     
     

    Manipulation

     
    The people who live in the Gaza strip are being manipulated by Hamas. This is not a statement of profound insight! We all know this.
     
    However, seeing the howling mobs of Palestinians attacking the border fence between Gaza and Israel was a frightening experience. Imagine yourselves on the Israeli side of this fence with a family — elderly parents,spouse and children — waiting for an attack from the Hamas driven hordes.  Wouldn’t you be frightened and feel blessed that IDF is out there protecting you.
     
    I am a gentile, but those individuals at the border fence terrified me. How much more terrified must be the inhabitants of Israel facing the prospect of a breakthrough if IDF fails to stop them. And yet again Jeremy Corbyn does not condemn the violence.  He, of course, is not in the path of a crazed mob about to attack anyone they see as an enemy,  and, unfortunately, they see most of the civilized world as “enemy”.
     
    The hatred and violence of the humans I have seen storming the Gaza/Israel fence is so overwhelming that I despair.
     
    Dr Jacqueline H Reynolds, Prof. Emeritus,
     Duke University USA.
     
     

    A remarkable man

     
    Not many people have their name give rise to a verb because of what they have done. Henry Knorpel, whose obituary recently appeared in the JC, unintentionally originated the phrase “been Knorpeled”.
     
    In his role as Counsel to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Henry scrutinised statutory instruments drafted by all government departments. Any draftsman who received a probing letter from Henry querying the way a piece of legislation had been written or, indeed, the power to make it, knew he would have to put his hands up to an error and redraft. (Something I had to do more than once.)
     
    You had “been Knorpeled” — almost a badge of honour from a man with a brilliant mind and generous heart.
     
    Ian Napper, 
    Essex IG8
     
     

    Help needed

     
    I am trying to trace relatives or friends of musician Michael Flome (Hyman Flaum), who was killed in an accident while on military service in WW2 and buried in a Commonwealth War Grave at Marlow Road Cemetery.   
     
    Michael was a well known bandleader in the 1930/40s. His parents were Harris and Annie Flaum and I am aware that he had a sister Hettie. 
     
    Amazingly, next to his parents’ graves at Marlow Road are buried a Harry and Anne Flaum who could be related although I cannot find a connection. I have traced several Flaums, but cannot make contact with any direct relatives.
     
    I believe the Flaums were cousins to my grandparents Marks and Leah Cazin as they put an obituary notice in the JC of April 1945 following Leah’s death.
     
    I and several cousins would welcome any information about Michael, Harris or Annie Flaum which would help find the links to our family.
     
    Les Cazin,  
    Herts AL2
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