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The JC letters page, 20th April

Lyn Julius, Avi Moshe, Professor John Strawson, Dave Whippman, David Levenson, (Dr) Anthony Joseph, David Wirth, Andrew Gilligan and Gideon Falter share their views with JC readers

    Israel and ‘occupation’

    Daoud Kuttab’s piece is a case of “the kettle calling the pot black” (JC April 13). He calls into question the legitimacy of Israel, when the Palestinian Authority has not called an election in ten years.

    Whatever the competing claims in the West Bank, Kuttab should be reminded that Israel’s “occupation” is a consequence of Arab aggression — not its cause. Moreover, international law has been silent about the mass theft of Jewish-owned land and property across the Arab world, estimated by the World Organisation of Jews from Arab Countries at four or five times the size of Israel itself.

    While lecturing Israel on the dangers of apartheid, Kuttab breezily ignores the dire situation for minorities in Arab countries, where the ancient Jewish presence is almost extinct.

    As the Arab world tears itself apart, Israel derives much of its legitimacy from having gathered in Jews from oppression and persecution. In its 70th year, its citizens have a great deal to celebrate.

    Lyn Julius
    Harif-UK Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa
    London SW5


    Crisis in Gaza

    Last week, Dr Reynolds wrote to you about recent protests on the borders of the Gaza Strip, suggesting that demonstrating Palestinians were being “manipulated by Hamas”.

    Perhaps, she would do well to remember that the Gaza Strip is gripped by a dire humanitarian crisis caused by Egyptian and Israeli blockades, and exasperated by Hamas’s insistence on diverting aid for military purposes.

    While certainly being utilised for Hamas’s own purposes, these demonstrations are also a very real indication of the prevalent desperation in Gaza: something many of us have seemed to overlook.

    Avi Moshe, 
    Higher Blackley M25 


    Israel at 70

    In Leslie Turnberg’s article The Moment that Israel was born (JC, April 13) there is an error identifying Molotov as the Russian Ambassador at the United Nations in 1947. Molotov was the Soviet Foreign Minister and it was Andrei Gromyko was the Ambassador to the United Nations.

    It was Gromyko who delivered the critical speeches, first in May in setting up the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine and then in the debate on the Partition resolution in November (November 26 1947).

    In the latter speech, he reminded his audience that “as a result of the war unleashed by Hitlerite Germany, the Jews as a people, have suffered more than any other people. You know there was a not a single Western country that succeeded in adequately protecting the interests of the Jewish people.” 

    It was a ringing endorsement of the justification for the creation of a Jewish state, by the representative of the USSR. Contemporary leftists should take note.

    Professor John Strawson
    London N19


    Already for the many

    Mark Goldberg (Letters April 13) suggests we can counter the antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour by demonstrating that we “care for the many, not just the Jew.” 

    But this fact is already obvious to anyone who is not a bigot. Individual Jews are prominent in the ranks of reformers and philanthropists. Jewish organisations speak out, and offer help on matters of concern to the wider community. Among the nations, Israel is always in the vanguard of aid efforts, as in Haiti. 

    The whole problem is that Corbyn’s power base is indeed infested with bigotry against us. In fact, the kind of dialogue that Mr Goldberg is proposing  would only further convince the Jew-haters that we do indeed have something to apologise for.  

    Like other evil, the prejudice within Corbyn’s party must be fought against, not appeased.

    Dave Whippman,
    Blackpool FY1

    I am not sure where Mark Goldberg has been living and whether he is being naively or wilfully ignorant about the contribution of the Jewish community to civic society. 

    You only have to search through a random selection of statements made by any of the serving Prime Ministers of the past 20 years, about the Jewish community in Britain or by leading politicians from any major party, to appreciate how much the community’s contribution to Britain is valued.

    Organisations like JCORE and René Cassin apply Jewish values to solving general problems of inequality.  There are many Jewish professionals in the fields of law, medicine and education who demonstrate on a daily basis that they care “for the many not just the Jew”, as Goldberg puts it.

    The Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council could meet Jeremy Corbyn to make these points, but they will fall on deaf ears. The reason is that Corbyn, uniquely among major political leaders, has never acknowledged the wider contribution of Jews to British society except those who side with his own partisan views.

    The Jewish community in Britain has always been aspirational, and there is no shame in admitting this. It has enabled us to care for our own for the most part without placing undue reliance on the State for hand-outs, and to make the contributions to British society that political leaders other than Corbyn acknowledge.

    Because of the Government’s present difficulties, Labour is expected to fare well at local council elections and, politics being cyclical, will at some point return to power in Westminster. However, Labour will never be a party of government so long as Corbyn is its leader.

    David Levenson
    Stanmore Middlesex


    First time?

    Firstly, I would like to congratulate Jodie Renaud and her family on what must have been a most auspicious occasion in Lincoln.

    However, the headline (April 13) suggesting this is the first time any such ceremony has happened there in 700 years is open to a (gentle) challenge.  

    Absolute proof there is none, but the eminent historian, the late Professor Cecil Roth, writing in 1950 in The Rise of Provincial Jewry, states about Lincoln: “there was more than one household and possibly an organised religious life, all traces of which has now disappeared”.

    A little later, after listing known 18th- and 19th-century Jewish families living in Lincoln, he writes: “It can hardly be imagined that so numerous a group did not hold regular religious services”.

    The instance that makes me feel it likely that an experience like Jodie’s may have happened within the past 200 years is my own family contribution: my three-times great grandparents, Rosceia (née Nathan, 1790-1832) and her husband, Jonas Lazarus (1771-1851) lived in Lincoln from 1810 till their respective deaths. They raised two sons and five daughters, all of whom remained in Lincoln till their adult lives and one son (Isaac Lazarus Lincoln) became the first mohel in Port Philip (now Melbourne), Australia. It would seem more than probable that these children’s “rite of passage” into their adult Jewish status would have been celebrated and marked in some way in Lincoln.

    (Dr) Anthony Joseph,
    Emeritus President, Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain,
    Smethwick, West Midlands


    Across the river

    Your headline  article Scale of Community’s Housing Crisis Revealed (April 13) quotes recent research which reveals troubling problems across many London boroughs and from Welwyn to Westminster, and Hillingdon to Redbridge.  

    Yet there is no mention of the position of the many thousands of Jews (according to the 2011 census) living in boroughs south of the river. Do they all live comfortably? Is this an omission which reveals an anti-South London bias?  

    David Wirth, 
    London SE21


    No contact

    Russell Dove, chair of Tottenham Labour Party, claims that I, “failed to contact” him before publishing an interview in which one of his councillors, Joe Goldberg, spoke of the party’s “extraordinary levels” of “institutional antisemitism.” I regret that

    Mr Dove’s words are no more accurate than his claim that his party has “always taken very seriously any complaints” about the issue. I made several attempts, which I can document, to contact both Mr Dove (whose constituency the allegations related to) and a senior Momentum official.

    They demonstrated the level of seriousness of their commitment to tackling antisemitism by failing to respond.

    Andrew Gilligan, 
    Sunday Times, London SE1


    A success

    For the past two weeks, the JC and its editor have berated the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) for going ahead with a national demonstration outside Labour Party Head Office, saying that it “will pale into insignificance and give succour to the antisemites”.

    In the event, over 2,000 Jews and non-Jews alike travelled from Glasgow, Manchester, Brighton, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham and other parts of the UK to stand together in driving rain, demanding that the Labour Party hold Jeremy Corbyn to account. 

    The demonstration was covered extremely positively in mainstream newspapers and television news. The coverage was so significant that both Sky and the BBC included it in the next day’s newspaper reviews. 

    The demonstration increased the pressure on the Labour Party over its antisemitism problem, which is unsurprising because, before going ahead with the demonstration, we sought advice from journalists, political figures and the Jewish community itself, and the advice to proceed was overwhelming. 

    However, instead of reporting accurately, the JC sought to downplay the turnout, to the sheer delight of antisemites on social media, claiming that merely 500 attended, even though double that figure alone signed complaint forms against Jeremy Corbyn at the demonstration. In the end, to satisfy its ego and its petty grudge against CAA, it was the JC that gave succour to the antisemites.

    Gideon Falter Chairman, CAA
    London W1


     

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