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The JC letters page, 30th March

Stephen Vishnick, Ruth Leveson, Steven R. Harvey, Geoff Ralton, L Finlow, Barrington Black, Celia Dignan and Russell Dove, Mark Cohen, Robin Setty, and Michael Harris share their views with JC readers

    A dignified protest

    Praise should be given to those that organised the dignified and heavily attended demonstration at Parliament Square London.

    Jeremy Corbyn’s latest letter of apology to The Board of Deputies of British Jews is a smokescreen for his own blatant erring on the subject and total lack of action in kicking out the perpetrators within the party.

    Labour has now recognised it has pockets of antisemitism — unfortunately they appear to be very deep — to paraphrase their election slogan: “We have many not the few”.

    Immediate action is required to dismiss and clear out from the party all those guilty of antisemitism before any semblance of confidence can be restored that might start to satisfy British as well as Jewry worldwide.

    Unfortunately, due to the captain’s ingrained prejudices and aforementioned lack of action, that ship might have already sailed.

    Stephen Vishnick, 
    Tel Aviv, Israel

    I find it ironic that Jewish Voice for Labour claims that criticism of antisemitism is an attack on freedom of speech. Why then did they attempt to drown out the speakers at the Enough is Enough demonstration on Monday? Is it only freedom of speech for themselves? 

    While on the subject, what was the reason for placing a yellow star, a symbol of Jewish suffering and persecution, on their posters supporting Jeremy Corbyn? Are they implying that their great leader is being persecuted and silenced in the way the Jews were under the Nazis? Their analogy is beyond offensive and a reminder of the very issue we were demonstrating against. 

    Ruth Leveson, 
    London NW11

    Jeremy Corbyn’s reference to mere “pockets of antisemitism” in the Labour Party when it is actually endemic proves he remains in denial about the true scale of the problem — a situation unlikely to change when he has so often publicly described antisemitic terrorists, including Hezbollah and Hamas, as his friends; sided with antisemites; and is firmly ensconced in a Socialist world-view that sees Jews and Israel as roots of all evil.

    The Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and UJIA are to be greatly commended for taking such a strong, high-profile stand on this issue on our collective behalf, but the small handful of Jewish far left Quislings who have openly defended Corbyn on the BBC, and falsely suggested he’s the victim of a “politically motivated smear campaign by the pro-Israel lobby and the Jewish establishment”, are guilty of indefensible ethnic disloyalty and deception of the public.

    Steven R. Harvey, 
    Cheshire SK8

    Finally, the Jewish community is taking real action regarding the virulent antisemitism of too many in the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn can no longer hide his obvious distaste for Jews and, of course, Israel. 

    The British Jewish community must deal with this situation in the same way as a previous generation. I refer to when Mosley and his Fascists were stopped from marching through the East End in 1936. We face just as big a danger now as we did then, only this is mostly being carried out online and in other more insidious ways.

    Antisemitism comes not only from the extreme right but also the extreme left. Corbyn has allowed, and by his failure to act, tacitly encouraged, his supporters with their vile views. He has surrounded himself with people of similar opinions and made sure that they are now in control of the Labour Party.

    Any Jew thinking of supporting or voting Labour at the moment should bear this all in mind. Now is the time to make our stand. What better time can there  be when we are about to celebrate Pesach and our Exodus from Egypt to freedom.

    Geoff Ralton, 
    London NW4

    After yet another accusation of antisemitism it is clear there is no safe space for Jews in Jeremy Corbyn’s modern Labour Party.

    Each time an incident rears its head Mr Corbyn’s excuses remain the same: “It wasn’t me”, “I should have checked more carefully”, “I didn’t know”.  His excuses are pathetic. He seems unaware of what is happening around him and the consequences to his actions, and yet hopes to be PM.

    Monday’s apology for “pockets of antisemitism” in the  Party makes no mention of his own behaviour in signing up to a Facebook page where virulent antisemitic views were aired. He responded to some of the postings but when tackled said he “had not realised” the content was antisemitic.  He is either short-sighted or being “sparing with the actualité”.  

    We are heading for dangerous times indeed if we let these characters anywhere near our Town Halls or into Downing Street.

    L Finlow (Mrs), 
    Wilmslow, Cheshire

    Will the time ever come when Jewish Peers, MPs , councillors and donors who are members and supporters of the Labour Party recognise that tweeting and writing letters about how let down and annoyed you are is meaningless. 

    Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of your party. As members and supporters of the party he leads, you advocate his governing our country. That is what you stand for.

    Shimon Cohen,
    London N2

    The two-pronged attack by the Board of Deputies and Leadership Council was ill conceived, badly timed, and might well be counter-productive. 

    It is irrefutable that, by his previous associations, Corbyn could hardly be described as a friend, but this is something which, over the past two years, has been well ventilated by the press and others.  One therefore wonders what was to be gained by mounting demonstrations through the media? 

    He is hardly likely to be displaced, and  some voters who themselves may not nurture philosemitic views, and we know many exist,  may find it a reason to add support to Corbyn.   

    The irony is that an otherwise little visited piece of “art”, no longer in the public domain, has now been displayed in every newspaper and on the screen.  It was inevitable the event would attract the usual faces from “Jews for Jeremy” with the sad public spectacle of  members of the community berating each other, while inside the House Luciana Berger made an effective speech to her Labour colleagues who gave her a standing ovation. That is what I call Dayenu.

    Barrington Black,
    London NW3


    On Haringey

    We are sorry to see the Jewish Chronicle simply repeating an article from The Sunday Times about Haringey Labour Party without speaking to any of our officers. (Haringey councillors say it is now ‘impossible’ to be a Jewish Labour councillor, JC March 18.) Andrew Gilligan, author of the original, also failed to contact us before publication.

    Both Haringey Labour Party constituencies have always taken very seriously any complaints about antisemitism and dealt with them using the formal procedures adopted by the national Labour Party.

    The Labour Party is a place where we fight racism and prejudice and all members are welcome whatever their race or religion. We are pleased to be fielding a team of prospective candidates in the upcoming local elections that includes candidates from diverse backgrounds including several Jewish candidates.

    The Labour Party continues to embrace a range of political views that members are free to express while at all times respecting others.

    Celia Dignan, 
    Chair Hornsey and Wood Green Labour Party
    Russell Dove, 
    Chair Tottenham Labour Party


    Good food

    London may have a dire need of decent kosher restaurants, but Marcus Dysch needs to leave the cosy confines of North-West Jewish London for some real haimishe food

    Perhaps Marcus would like to come to Glasgow for some decent kosher fare. Mark’s Deli produces delicious food in its cafe. From Jewish penicillin and hot salt beef sandwiches to falafel and a beef burger.

    We were named for several years as one of Scotland’s top restaurants by Glasgow’s leading food critic Ron McKenna 

    Our chefs regularly prepare food for Scotland’s top hotels, visiting tourists and cruise ships. We even supplied kosher food to a Russian Oligarch

    Perhaps Marcus would like to dine at Mark’s Deli at Pesach? There’s a lot more than matzah on the menu!

    Mark Cohen
    Proprietor, Mark’s Deli 


    Kasher L’Pesach

    Leonora Samuel reflected last week on using compostable plates, rather than single-use ones that would end up in a landfill, in order to keep Pesach kosher (Letters, March 23).  

    Pesach is my favourite festival but each year I feel uneasy about all the wastage it creates. As good citizens, it’s an obligation on all of us to think hard about what we’re doing to the planet. We should consider the consequences of each of our kosher L’Pesach actions and not relegate the mitzvah of Tikun Olam (repair of the world) at this time of year.  I’d never claim to be a religious scholar but surely if we believe that Hashem created our planet, to treat it with contempt is itself a form of blasphemy?

    Robin Setty
    London NW7


    Rewriting history

    At first, I was in agreement with Jonathan Freedland’s article on 23 March (Israel needs to wake up and smell the coffee) that brought attention to an incident in a branch of Aroma Espresso Bar in Arad. 

    However, it quickly turned from a focus on the situation of the Arabic language in Israel to an all-out criticism and attack on the state of Israel and the entire gamut of its policies.

    Most upsetting (and inaccurate) was the repeated use of the term “occupation” to describe the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria. I urge Mr Freedland to visit Hebron and Beitar and see multitudes of coins, wells and mikvaot which point to the continuous Jewish presence there since antiquity. The historical truth is that the Jews were living in Judea several millennia before the term “West Bank” was even invented. 

    It saddens me to think that the attempt to dispossess the Jewish people of its history has been so successful that a fellow Jew, writing in a Jewish newspaper, would unashamedly describe his ancestral homeland as being “occupied” by the nation that has inhabited it for 4,000 years.

    Michael Harris, 
    Edgware, HA8

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