The JC

Letters to the editor, 14 July 2023

Richard Hermer, Leo Dee and UJIA Green Line policy


Rabbi Leo Dee, who's two daughters were murdered in a terror attack a few days ago, holds a press conference in Efrat, on April 10, 2023. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/FLASH90

July 13, 2023 12:07

Dangerous and foolish

Your suggestion that the distinguished KC, Richard Hermer, gave partial and politically influenced legal advice to the Labour Party in relation to the anti-boycott legislation (Economic Activity of Public Bodies Bill) is both dangerous and foolish (Revealed, the pro-Palestinian activist past of lawyer advising Labour Party on Boycott Bill, July 7).

The paper is entitled to take a view on the legislation and the signatories to this letter will have different opinions on its merits. However, on one thing we are clear: attempting to discredit Richard Hermer by impugning his motives rather than addressing the contents of his advice is wrong.

Our system of law, indeed the rule of law in this country, is strengthened by the bedrock principle that lawyers are able to give independent advice to clients irrespective of whether they agree with their cause or not.  Attacking the lawyer is a well-trodden but lazy path, typically a ploy to avoid meeting the argument on its merits.

We would like to state our public support for Richard Hermer KC.

Anthony Julius Deputy Chairman, Mishcon de Reya, Professor, Faculty of Laws, UCL
Lord Pannick KC
James Libson Managing Partner, Mishcon De Reya
Sir Jeffrey Jowell KC
Adam Rose Partner, Mishcon De Reya
Anthony Metzer KC
Danny Friedman KC
Dinah Rose KC
Lawrence Radley Partner, Reed Smith LLP
Neil Kitchener KC
Rachel Crasnow KC
Richard Wald KC
Ronit Kreisberger KC
Sam Grodzinski KC
Sam Leek KC
Sue Prevezer KC
Tamara Oppenheimer KC
Nick Vineall KC

Tradition is right

Our tradition is right and Jonathan Romain is wrong (Our tradition is wrong. Legalise assisted dying, July 7). The sanctity of life is not the one-dimensional concept he suggests. It is a beautiful proclamation that life belongs to the category of the sacred; as such, it exists beyond the realm over which the state should have control.

Jews must pay close attention to the potential consequences of any law which sanctions death. We would love to believe that such permission will be used for benevolent purposes, however in reality there are no safeguards secure enough to prevent the possibility of malpractice. Will determining whether a relative should be euthanised involve analysing their quality of life or a balance sheet? Why make the most extreme option imaginable — death itself — the easiest to access?

Assisted dying makes a mockery of the idea that every life is sacred and that every human being is made in the image of God, a core principle of faith shared by all Judaism’s denominations. Suffering does not make a life less sacred. Though some of our traditions seem unusual at face value, the more deeply we interrogate them the more we realise that they exist for a reason.

Noah Max
London NW11


Louise Jacobs’ Schmooze: Why we had to bring in our ‘Green Line’ Policy (July 7), is an explanation of the UJIA’s new policy, but it is not a justification. And it is disingenuous.

Whilst Ms Jacobs is right to assert that this is not a political issue, in the sense that it is not about whether one believes that Israel’s policies in the areas captured during the 1967 war are right or wrong, it is political in the sense that it is driven by the UK government defining East Jerusalem as occupied territory. As a consequence, if UK charities support projects there, and organisations such as the UJIA visit there, they risk losing their charitable status and the valuable benefits that flow from it.

Ms Jacobs implies that the UJIA had no choice. But it does. If the UJIA really believes, as Ms. Jacobs asserts, that Israel tours are critical to the development of a young person’s Jewish consciousness, they must surely accept that a red line has been crossed.

If our young people cannot freely visit parts of Jerusalem that are at the very heart of our Jewish being, then the UJIA is doing them, and itself, a huge disservice.

The choice for the UJIA is to either contest the government’s policy on East Jerusalem, or meekly go along with it.

It is time for the UJIA to stand up for what it professes to believe in and tell the government that never again will Jewish people be told where we can and can’t go in our country.

Alan Curtis
Bushey, Herts

Unrivalled collection

If the recent correspondence on the merits of retaining or re-introducing traditional chazanut to shul services has stimulated interest, I’m pleased to say that the entire collection of Jewish liturgical and secular music of my father, Victor Tunkel z”l, is now on permanent loan to Leo Baeck College Library at the Sternberg Centre in north London.

As a boy, Victor sang in the choir at Raleigh Close shul in Hendon, and this sparked his love for the choral tradition, authentic nusach and accuracy in leyning.   In the 1990s, and semi-retired from his career as an academic lawyer, he published a book which charts all the musical rules of leyning.   

Apart from being an expert ba’al koreh, and generous teacher of many bnei mitzvah, with his light tenor voice and clear enunciation, he was also a delight to follow as a ba’al tefilah as anyone in Kenton and Bristol in the 1960s and Mill Hill in the 1970s to the 2010s will attest.

His style of chazanut proved that leading a service didn’t have to be with a pinched voice, exaggerated vibrato, or in the drawn-out self-indulgent manner unmissed by many, myself included.

Victor started collecting books, sheet music and recordings as a young man and was still doing so in his 80s.

According to his wishes, this extensive and unrivalled collection has been kept intact and in the UK, accessible to anyone who wants to use it for academic study or practical application.

Sarah Tunkel
London N3

Been here before

You report that Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the Jenin operation would “change the equation against terrorism”. I wonder, for there is nothing original about this claim.

In the summer of 1973, I spent several weeks immersed in the Jerusalem Post archives scrutinising six years of past articles (from the 1967 war onwards). Time and again, the decisive elimination of terrorist bands was reported. And so on to this day. So on what grounds should we believe, 50 years on, that the latest “military operation” in Jenin will eliminate terror rather than fan it?

It surely should be obvious by now that the principal recruiting sergeant for terror is the decades-long repressive military occupation and the sense of hopelessness it has inevitably produced, especially among young Palestinians. If Israel truly wanted to eradicate terror, a sane leadership would surely know what to do. A firm helping hand by the international community, including a strong nudge by the Jewish diaspora, would be an act of kindness to everyone concerned, including Israel’s own fretful citizens, who also have mounting reasons to despair.

Dr Tony Klug
London NW5

Breach of BBC charter

BBC News is certainly consistent.  Consistent, that is, with its inaccuracy and often libellous reporting of events connected with Israel and Jews (BBC ‘sorry’ for saying Israel was ‘happy to kill children,  July ).

According to Section six of the Royal Charter for the Continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation, the primary “public purpose” of the BBC is to “provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them”.

This it does not do.

The BBC apologised after news anchor Anjana Gadgil said “Israeli forces are happy to kill children” in her interview with Israel’s former prime minister over the West Bank raid. Furtheremore, no mention was made by Gadgil that the “children” were all gun-toting terrorists. She was therefore not only libellous but 100 percent  inaccurate, as Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, former battalion commander of Operation Fingal in Afghanistan will gladly testify to as he always does when it comes to the morality of the IDF.

When these falsehoods are stated by a reporter, the BBC are acutely aware that they cannot then be “unsaid”, and trotting out the usual thin, insincere modern excuse so beloved by organisations that fail in their endeavours to provide goods or services, that “they take ‘such and such’ seriously”, simply does not wash.

If the BBC break Section six  of their Charter on an almost daily basis surely that means they are not upholding their remit, which in essence means that we the public are not getting the service we are forced to compulsorily pay for (through the licence fee). And it is no good the thoroughly useless Capita and the BBC themselves using “the licence fee is for the receiving equipment” excuse.

Given the above, is it not time for a class action on behalf of the 271,327 Jews in England and Wales, (according to the 2021 census; Scotland has between 6,000 and 9,000 and NI some 80 souls) to either withdraw their payment of the licence fee as not being what what is being paid for under the Trade Description Act, or at the very least, stopping the majority proportion of that licence fee paid to the BBC that is not for “licencing the receiving equipment”.

Edward Moss

Kosher innovation

Shocked but unsurprised that the kosher food industry is lagging in standards (Kosher food producers lagging behind wider market in cutting out ‘harmful’ ingredients, July 7).

Doubtless to improve the quality of inputs would either put prices up further or (shock horror) require lower margins for producers and supervision agencies. Maybe supervision agencies should be lowering their prices and/or supervising more products (facilitating economies of scale, also increasing price competition of producers). This would allow higher quality ingredients within the current price point, assuming producers don’t just pocket the difference.

One could argue that the current model of kosher supervision and production is profiteering at the expense of the health of the very community that agencies are supposed to be serving, which is morally dubious even if the products are halachically kosher. Changes are needed urgently to encourage innovation. I recently overheard a manager at a major London kosher bakery dismissing a customer’s request for gluten free products: “They don’t sell, they are tasteless and there is no demand”, which I translate as, “They are more expensive for us to make, require innovation, and we can’t be bothered”.

Wake up industry, it’s time to be bothered — the health (and inclusion) of the community is being harmed by you.

Dr Michael Gilmont
London N12

Good and bad

I found the article by Rabbi Dee, in which he said that the “good” Palestinians hate the terrorists, very interesting (Ordinary Arabs silently thanked Allah for the operation in Jenin, 7 July). Perhaps instead of seeing the conflict as between Israelis and Palestinians, we should view it as a conflict between those who want peace, including the “good” Palestinians, and those who do not want peace, including the nearly half million Israeli Arabs who want to destroy Israel as a Jewish State. This mental realignment would reveal friends and enemies across both the sides as viewed currently and would hopefully allow an alternative path towards developing a peaceful solution to be identified.

Jeffrey Nakar

Oh so very Jewish

In his hilarious article about Jews and cricket,Howard Jacobson rightly identifies the cerebral nature of the sport and the wit it embodies, as what appeals to Jews (Jews playing cricket? Now you’re really creasing me up, July 7).

To which I would add not having to move around very much. The limitless potential for lampooning the names of fielding positions such as square leg and silly mid on, and the fun to be had with phrases such as “caught in the slips” or “bowled middle stump”, feed the Jewish propensity for words. My dear uncle Paul — who thought he was Len Hutton — infused me and my brother with a love of the game by taking us to see Yorkshire on windswept summer days, where we learnt another great cricketing metaphor: rain stopped play.

Stan Labovitch

July 13, 2023 12:07

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