Not stupid or offensive
I was shocked to read Stephen Pollard’s article (JC August 8) criticising Billy Joel for wearing a yellow star in protest against racism.
I can’t think of a better symbol to illustrate racism than the yellow star and to label Mr Joel as “crass, infantile, ignorant, stupid and offensive” for his visual demonstration against this worrying rise in nationalism, anti-immigration and antisemitism is, itself, a stupid misunderstanding of a brave demonstration against a despicable current trend.
More of us should make such a stand rather than criticise those who do.
Many of us are left
Why does Melanie Phillips (JC Comment September 1) see the left as a monolith, let alone an antisemitic body? Has she not heard of the Jewish Labour Movement, or the many Jewish members of the Labour Party, and of the many other organisations comprising the “left”.
I read the Guardian daily; her claim that any regular commentators come out with Nazi-like ideas is ludicrous.
I am afraid I detect in her claim that “the left controls the culture”, an echo of the antisemites’ fantasies about “Jewish control”. Why have these powerful, sinister people not yet been able to stop anybody in this country, not least your worthy contributor, from freely expressing their views?
Have no fear
I think we have nothing to fear from the screening of the film In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain at the Barbican’s Into the Unknown exhibition. I have been an avid consumer of science-fiction in both its literary and visual forms since childhood, and I found the film pretentious, incomprehensible and boring; I left after a few minutes. I sensed a political sub-text, but could not work out what it was from slow motion shots of plates shattering. I can’t imagine anyone coming away hating Israel who did not hate Israel before.
The wider question, of course, is why an otherwise apolitical exhibition of rare books, magazines and film props feels the need to take sides on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Science-fiction has long been used to address issues of pressing social concern, yet quite why a polemic remote from the concerns of most of the audience should have been given such prominence is a mystery.
Incidentally, there was a more positive Jewish link at the exhibition in the form of a copy of a book by Jewish author Avram Davidson and inscribed by the author to the book’s purchaser, the philosemitic Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges.
Far from Cable Street
Why was Charlottesville different from the Battle of Cable Street? Because anti-fascists in 2017 America have become enslaved to the fashionable “intersectionality”, which perceives a link between all manifestations of oppression, however diverse.
Equal pay for women is related to Black Lives Matter. Left-wing opinion has decreed that Palestinians are quintessential victims.
Their villainous oppressors are Israel, which it ridiculously accuses of every sort of monstrous criminality from harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians to apartheid to genocide. The logical outcome? If you oppose racism, homophobia, sexism, then you must oppose Israel, and by extension all those who support Israel, and by a further extension all Israelis, most of whom, by a curious chance, happen to be Jews.
You must deny them a voice, ban them from public life, cut them off from academic interchange, boycott or disrupt their artistic performances.
The Cable Street anti-fascists were Jews supported by non-Jewish friends, neighbours and fellow workers, who hated the antisemitism of Oswald Mosley and his Nazi-aping bully-boys, and determined to make a stand against them. Antifa, on the other hand, the body that orchestrated Charlottesville, contains within itself an antisemitism as prejudiced and as hateful as that mouthed by the fascists it opposes. Therein lies the essential difference.
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel
Later this year, in December in London, there will be a reunion for all those “freshers” who were associated with Hillel House, Grafton Street, Manchester, academic year 1967-8 — whether you lived there, came along to have lunch and meet other young hopefuls, chat-up the opposite sex, or simply “hang out”.
The event will give us plenty of opportunity to yachna, shmooze and generally get re-acquainted.
There will be time to kvell over our children and grandchildren, compare our personal 50 shades of grey… hair (!), discuss our ills and pills, and simply catch up with the past half-century
Looking forward to seeing you and sharing our get-together. Assuming we recognise each other!
Large-type name tags will be supplied for those who have not yet been to Specsavers (other opticians are available)
AJEX are seeking information from surviving families on the following two war time casualties:
Flying Officer Harold Devan/Devon, RAF killed in action 1944 or 1943
Morris Goldberg aka Gould, Commandant in the British Red Cross Society, died/killed 11/10/40, buried at Streatham Jewish Cemetery
Please contact Martin Sugarman at AJEX
To my delight and amazement I saw the article on Rabbi Dr Wolf Gottleib and his impressive work saving European children from the Nazis (JC Sept 8).
I have such fond memories of him.
Almost 70 years ago, I was one of the few young teenagers left attending Queens Park shul (now sadly defunct) where he officiated.
In fact, it was to hear his sermons that galvanised me every Saturday morning to walk to shul from Newlands.
At the end of the service, he used to generously give his time to my frequent questions.
Quite often he would allow me to walk him home still in discussion.
One occasion I remember rather guiltily. I persisted strongly in making a case for scientific evolution as we strode up the steep hill towards Battlefield Mount.
He suddenly stopped at the top and, to my consternation, quietly banged his head against the railings muttering, “It can’t be true that human beings are descended from the same family as apes.”
Exceptionally for an Orthodox rabbi, he shook my elderly mother’s hand after she, my new wife and I, emerged at the end of the service.
Dr Stanley Jacobs,
My 84-year-old Aunt Esther lost both her legs in a terrible accident.
Remembering all the newspaper clippings in her kitchen about her heroine, Princess Diana, I wrote to the princess asking whether she could send my aunt a signed photo.
Two days later, in Ramsgate General Hospital, Auntie Esther received a huge bouquet and, just a day later, a two-sided, handwritten letter from Princess Di herself.
No doubt Princess Diana performed many such mitzvot to countless others and it is easy to understand how she touched the heart of the nation.