The JC

Letters to the editor, 16 February 2024

February 15, 2024 16:11

Miller fight

​In your article on David Miller’s tribunal case, Lord Mann is quoted saying: “The concept that an ideology needs protecting is totally ludicrous. What needs protecting are identities, not ideologies.” With respect to Lord Mann (who means well), such an approach is wrong-headed.

Particularly in a university setting, it is crucially important that faculty are not sacked for holding ideological views that other people do not like.

It’s not just a risk that people who hold perfectly reasonable views will be accused of promoting hatred of this or that identity group — this is not a paranoid fantasy — it has happened repeatedly (even in Jewish settings), particularly to people like me (feminists who assert that sex is real and are then accused of hate speech). The fact that real antisemites have invoked this narrative disingenuously to protect their real antisemitism does not mean that the problem is not real.

I am terribly worried that the case for firing Miller was formulated incorrectly, that the Jewish students who were abused by Miller were in many cases so socialised into identity politics themselves that they used the now demonstrably faulty argument “his views make me feel unsafe so please silence him”.

Jewish people must ask how we protect our own students from real abuse — such as Zionist students being discriminated against by faculty who cannot engage in civil academic dialogue with those who hold different views. (I presume that Miller was guilty of precisely this.)

In order to protect Zionists, we also have to protect anti-Zionists. But that protection ends when you cannot participate appropriately in the civil discourse of the academy, a fault shared by both Miller and the self-styled “social justice” activists seeking to silence feminists.

Shira Solomons

The recent employment tribunal judgment in the case that David Miller brought against Bristol University for unfair dismissal seems extraordinary.

To maintain that anti-Zionism is a genuinely-held philosophical belief and thus a protected characteristic under the Equality Act is a remarkable conclusion. It must logically mean that Zionism is itself a protected characteristic.

What about anti-anti-Zionism, in which many in our community could claim to believe?

Could antisemitism or Islamophobia also be considered as protected characteristics? The implications seem endless.

I am not a lawyer, but would certainly hope that this decision can be appealed.

Neville Nagler

London N3

Labour woes

​Sir Keir Starmer still has to convince the population that his mission to rid Labour of antisemitic views, which he says he was removing root and branch from the party, is succeeding, when in reality they are still flourishing. The man who stood by Corbyn for years appears to have been blind-sided on the subject. The issue is clearly alive and antisemitism is still pervading the party.

Stephen Vishnick

Tel Aviv

Support needed

​We have not seen the current levels of antisemitism in the UK and around the world for decades, and it is now coupled with Israelophobia. We read and listen aghast as people from all walks of life engage in a campaign of prejudice and hatred. The question is, what do we do about it? How do we even begin to tackle the combination of ignorance, distortion and lies, which spread like wildfire?

A friend recently attended a screening in Falmouth of the film Israelism. Most of the audience were part of the Free Palestine protests. In the discussion that followed the film, my friend was shocked to note how horrified they were when she said she supported a two-state solution.

They were not horrified at the idea of a Palestinian state of course, but at the idea of an Israeli state existing at all. She also noted how irrelevant the Holocaust was for them as a crucial factor in the existence of Israel.

Many of those who oppose Israel are deeply ignorant of the history or even of the geography and present political reality of the Middle East. This ignorance is, of course, exploited by those who, while more aware, hate Israel and hate Jews. Even more disturbing is the growing number of thinly veiled and open calls for violence against Jews and anyone who supports Israel.

The current worsening situation requires a concerted and widespread response. I think that the majority of Jews are currently ill-equipped to contribute to this. We simply do not know how to engage effectively with the challenge. What do we do? What do we say? What do we write in response to the barrage of increasing prejudice and hatred? We need training on how to act and react and this training needs to be spread around the nation so that we can all play a part.

I would like to suggest that a conference be organised to which representatives from every synagogue and every Jewish organisation in the UK are invited, with politicians and friends from the wider community. Such an event could be organised by Campaign Against Antisemitism, the CST, the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and similar bodies, with input from the Israeli Embassy. We need to act big and wide and we need to act now.

Jeremy Jacobson OBE


Keep shtoom

​Isn’t it ironic (sorry, Jeremy) that the comedian who caused such a furore at a London theatre that was once a shul had the word Shtoom as the title of his show? I wonder if he knows its Yiddish meaning is “silent”? Perhaps he should do us all a favour and use it as an instruction.

Anthony Green


Brum error

​Alexander Cohen wrote an absorbing article (JC 2 February 2024) about Frank Auerbach and rightly pointed out the influence on him from the sadly underrated David Bomberg. Alexander made one small error. David Bomberg was not born in the East End of London, but in Birmingham in 1890 at 18 Florence Street about five minutes’ walk from Singers Hill Synagogue.

His father, a leather worker, moved to Whitechapel when Bomberg was five years old.

Richard Jaffa

(ex Brummie)

London N3

February 15, 2024 16:11

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive