The JC

Letters to the editor, 17 May 2024

Na’amod, Geoffrey Alderman and the Board of Deputies


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaker of the Knesset Amir Ohana and Israeli president Isaac Herzog at a state memorial ceremony for victims of terror, at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem (Flash90)

May 16, 2024 10:29

Brighton & Sussex Na'amod and B&H Jews Against the Occupation claim to be part of the Jewish community in Brighton and Hove and to be growing (Not a monolith, Letters, 10 May).

In their letter they do not even mention the hostages. I wonder whether any of them have ever stopped by the October 7 memorial in Palmeira Square, a short distance from two synagogues. Members of the Jewish community, of every denomination, visit it every evening to pray for the liberation of the hostages. We are not a monolith. We just care for the hostages.

The memorial has been vandalised 22 times in the last six months. Are these devastations part of the "peaceful calls to the end of the occupation" mentioned in the letter? Is this what the "welcomed and respectful partnership with local campaigns for justice for Palestinians" is about?

Not even mentioning the hostages? If these are Jewish values, Orwell was an optimist. Thankfully, the Jewish community of Brighton and Hove feels and pray differently.

Rabbi Dr Andrea Zanardo


We read with disdain the letter from Brighton & Sussex Naamod and B&H Jews Against the Occupation.

The views expressed about Israel do not reflect those of the Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation and the Hove Hebrew Congregation. Indeed, the former recently held a successful pro-Israel lunch on the weekend of the Chief Rabbi’s Israel initiative which was exceedingly well supported by the community, amongst other pro-Israel initiatives

It is neither correct nor accurate to say that “the growing number of Jewish Brighton and Hove for the end to the occupation, apartheid and violence perpetrated on Palestinians by the Israel Government.” These people may speak for themselves but for no others.

Jonathan Metliss, Vice Chairman Brighton & Hove Hebrew Congregation

Michele Cohen, Hon Life President, Hove Hebrew Congregation

Whilst it is right - and a point to celebrate - that the Jewish community has a diverse range of opinions, the move by a small but all too vocal minority to sever the inextricable link between the British Jewish community and our brothers and sisters in Israel is to all of our detriment.

These far left Jewish movements seem hell bent on redefining the very essence of our Jewish identity. Thankfully few in number, these groups are infiltrating our Jewish institutions. Recently we and others felt we had to resign after decades of membership and leadership at Leicester’s Progressive Synagogue due to the activities of a small group of vocal far left activists who wanted to disassociate the synagogue from Israel and silence any symbolism of it in the community.

To state that the British Jewish community supports the existence and the security of Israel is a fair and well researched assertion to make. It is important that the moderate majority of us who support democratic Israel do not allow the small but vocal minority to silence us.

Victor Kaufman-Bartfield

Richard Kaufman-Bartfield

Jeffrey Kaufman


Given that four out of the five newly elected honorary officers at the Board of Deputies election are active members of the Labour Party, with the fifth holding similar views, please can we finally dispense with the discredited notion that this is the democratic representative body of Anglo Jewry?

It has become a pressure group promoting a particular ideology, and now quite obviously that of one particular party, ironically the one of the two main parties with members holding views hostile to Israel.

The Board’s stance on Israel is largely out of step with mainstream Anglo Jewry, so it is time now to end the so-called “voluntary levy”, often embedded unnoticed in shul fees.

The money would be far better used supporting those organisations such as CST and CAA which are far more effective in protecting Jewish life than the Board, and UK Lawyers for Israel which stands up to boycotts and the hateful agenda of the anti Israel crowd

James R Windsor

Ilford, Essex

There were omissions from Geoffrey Alderman's obit of Sir Paul Fox (10 May).

I attended his funeral. Not so much a service, more a tribute with a gathering of friends including the great and good - David Attenborough (who spoke), Michael Grade, Alan Yentob and many other media people.

He took no part in refugee affairs, but quickly established himself as British, serving in the forces in the Second World War.

I got to know him when he joined Radlett Reform Synagogue, signed up by my late father-in-law, who rarely if ever left a house without capturing a new member.

His annual attendance at shul was Rosh Hashanah, complete with bowler hat, accompanied by Betty.Paul was a great host, and an unparalleled raconteur, which he manifested when I asked him to speak of his stellar career at the shul's 25 year party in 1996.

Barry Hyman

President, Radlett Reform Synagogue

A chazen out of practice, I was surprised when at the last moment the rabbi asking me to say the Prayer for the Royal Family during last Shabbat's service. But I've known it by heart since childhood. So I confidently began, "He who gives salvation unto kings...may he bless our Sovereign Lady Queen..."

Hearing laughs from the congregation, I belatedly realised that I was declaiming the old version, from before the passing away of our beloved Queen Elizabeth.

On the spur of the moment, I continued from "our Sovereign Lady Queen" by adding "Camilla”, paused, then added "and our Sovereign Lord King Charles."

Oy gevaIt! I had now compounded my lèse majesté by putting her, a non-regnant Queen, before HM the King. Oyoyoy!

I got so steamed up over this that I inadvertently added "Kate, Princess of Wales" and proceeded with "may He put a spirit of wisdom into their hearts" (the standard text reads "his heart”).

For these crimes, will I be confined to the Tower of London?

Andrew M. Rosemarine


When I first heard about the Israeli government claiming some UNRWA employees were linked to Hamas, I remarked to an Israeli that I wondered what the evidence was for these claims, as I had yet to see any reported. He shouted that governments around the world had accepted such evidence existed and so should I. Then it emerged that a number of governments that had stopped funding UNRWA following these claims, had re-started their funding due to a lack of evidence. The independent “Colonna Review” cited similar concerns. It further emerged that testimonies around such affiliations held up as evidence, had been extracted under torture.

Stephen Pollard’s article (UN has been captured by enemies of democracy, 5 March, echoed claims around UNRWA employees without giving explicit evidence, and, claimed a Zionist-funded organisation as an unbiased source. Where have we got to as British Jews, if we accept statements without solid independently verified facts behind them? Do we as Jews, also need to talk about how these claims appeared just after the ICJ’s interim decision stating an Israeli genocide of Palestinians was plausible? Finally, does the JV, which claims it speaks for Britain’s Jews, need to include the perspectives of those Jews who no longer identify with Israel? (37% of British Jews according to the latest JPR polling.)

As a Jew raised to care deeply about the strong moral pillar at the heart of Judaism, and, as someone who cares about the human rights of everybody on the planet, the killing of tens of thousands and threat of famine to millions in retaliation for 1500 Israelis dead or taken hostage, is horrifying, as are reports of Israelis impeding humanitarian aid delivery.

Leaving aside whether their governments stated aims of eliminating Hamas (an ideology with links across the region) are achievable, why are we as Jews rejecting the same international rules-based order designed to protect us (and human rights globally) after the Holocaust? And what does this mean for our world? As a human being I don’t wish to live in a world with one rule for some, and another rule for others. As a Jew I believe the integrity of Judaism is more important than Zionism. If the current keepers of Zionism have lost their way, we must tell them. Loudly.

Gillian Mosely

May 16, 2024 10:29

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