The JC

Letters to the Editor, 1 March 2024


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 24: Barbra Streisand accepts the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award onstage during the 30th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on February 24, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

February 29, 2024 16:51

Hen Mazzig refers to archeological and historic reasons for the link between Jews and Israel (Forget ‘colonialism’. Jews are indigenous to Israel, 23 February). But he rightly prefers not to have to fall back on an indigenous narrative. Like him, I don’t feel a need to appease the fashionable fury of social justice warriors. The 1947 United Nations Resolution 181, together with the established presence of a population now approaching 10 million, is amply sufficient to provide the intellectual scaffolding. And, while respecting love of the bible, I don’t myself require an origin story in support of modern Israel.

However, anyone wanting to make a convincing argument for the link between the people and the place should look into the striking evidence that DNA extracted from the contemporary Jewish population, particularly the Ashkenazi male line, shows a strong connection with ancient bones disinterred from the Levantine area. See in particular the work of Shai Carmi, David Reich, Harry Ostrer, Doron Behar et al. But there is also linkage evidence for Palestinians, so while Jews can reliably rebut claims that they were originally descended from Europeans, and, in particular Khazars, the indigenous narrative is of little help in the quest for a just resolution.

Steven Fogel

London NW11

Your front page (Police trained on 'Islamophobia' by jihadist backers, 23 February) is no surprise because Mend has been advising Thames Valley Police in Reading for a decade or so. Faith Summits were held for a few years from 2016 in Reading Police Station, in front of Mend banners in the room. Two members of the local Police Independent Advisory Group, including its chairman, gave a presentation on behalf of Mend, claiming that factual newspaper articles on Israel were Islamophobic. They also criticised Jews and Sikhs for being covered by laws against racism, unlike Muslims (ignoring the fact that Muslims are covered by their own ethnicities).

The current local police Commander restarted the summits as Community Engagement Events in June 2023, when he thanked one of the Mend members for his help. The Mend chairman of the Advisory Group organised and spoke at a "Rally for Palestine”, on 21 October 2023 in Reading's Forbury Gardens. They followed that with a weekly rally in the main shopping street, and organising coaches for national rallies in London.

New elections for Police and Crime Commissioners, and their mayoral equivalents, will be held this May, on the same day as local elections, providing a chance to change police training.

Mark Drukker.

Reading, Berkshire

There is a Hebrew saying: “Who is wise? One who sees the future”. When Yitzhak Rabin reluctantly signed the Oslo Accords, he hoped that giving autonomy to the Palestinians would bring peace and security for Israel. He also said that the Accords would fail if these hopes didn’t materialise. They didn’t.

The Israeli right wing, including the “extremists”, vehemently opposed Oslo from the outset, correctly predicting its grim outcome. Similarly, Middle East experts have been warning the two-state solution will be merely an interim stage on the road to a complete elimination of the Jewish state.

Yet an array of politicians from all parties insists on it regardless, trusting that UN and international law formulated “down the line” will guarantee peace in the region. Are they not aware that there already is an international law regarding division of Palestine?

This law, drafted in 1922, allots the area east of the river Jordan up to Iraq (today’s Jordan) exclusively for Arab Palestinian self-determination.

Indeed, over 70 percent of Jordanian citizens are Palestinian. The rest, from the river to the sea, the law allots for the exclusive self-determination of the Jews. Today’s persistent use of the terms “occupied Palestinian territories” or “illegal Israeli settlements” makes a mockery of international law.

The timing of this renewed thrust for a two-state solution is highly suspicious and disquieting, as well as utterly disrespectful of Israel, who is in the midst of a difficult, existential war. Political opportunism should have no place within this context.

Eda Spinka

London NW4

I recently visited the Fashion City exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands which charts Jewish Londoners’ influence on global style. The exhibition was excellent in many ways, but there was one glaring omission: namely, anything substantive on Jewish engagement in the fur trade.

This was so despite , at the very end of the exhibition, a list of Jewish-owned fashion businesses containing several references to fur manufacturers and retailers. As the son of a furrier, I was disappointed by this. And I wondered whether some “woke” influences had contrived to cancel inclusion of an industry that was, I suspect, disproportionately peopled by Jews making and selling what was once a popular and perfectly acceptable garment.

Stephen Collins

Pinner, Middlesex

Mordechai Beck is wrong to write of Brian Epstein that all the Beatles “turned up to his funeral at the New West London Synagogue”, because the funeral took place in Liverpool (How the Beatles got by with some help from their little-known Jewish friends, 23 February). The Beatles attended the memorial service only. This was indeed held at Rabbi Jacobs's synagogue, but this is properly known as the New London Synagogue in Abbey Road.

Beck’s further reference to 'the local Reform Synagogue on Abbey Road St John's Wood ' is puzzling: which does he mean?

Dr A Summers

London NW11

The photo on last week’s letters page would be funny if the Yiddish were correct. Naches is ‘shepped’. I am sending this by email so I don’t need to ‘shlep’ round to your office.

Danny Allen

London NW11

February 29, 2024 16:51

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