The JC

Letters to the editor, 23 February 2024

Conflating Israel with Jews,


London, UK. 16.02.2024. 10 to 4 Productions presents CABLE STREET, a new musical by Tim Gilvin (music and lyrics) and Alex Kanefsky (book), at Southwark Playhouse, London, UK. Directed by Adam Lenson, with musical direction by Tamara Saringer, set design by Yoav Segal, costume design by Lu Herbert, lighting design by Sam Waddington, and choreography by Jevan-Howard Jones. The cast is: Max Alexander-Taylor, Debbie Chazen, Danny Colligan, Sha Dessi, Joshua Ginsberg, Jade Johnson, Sarah Leatherbarrow, Aoife Mac Namara, Ethan Pascal Peters, Sophia Ragavelas, Jez Unwin. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

February 22, 2024 12:06

Utterly powerless

​Jake Wallis Simons is of course right that Israel and Jewishness are inextricably interwoven, historically because Judaism evolved in the land of the Old Testament, and more recently because of the state of Israel (It’s fine to “conflate” Jews with Israel ,let’s not deny our roots, 16 February). One could also argue that centuries of Yiddish culture means that Jews are inextricably linked to Europe.

But in asking us to unashamedly embrace our Israeli roots, Jake is posing the Finkler Question: how loyal should a diaspora Jew be to the state of Israel ?

Of course we should stand by Israel in its hour of need. It would be inconceivable not to. But how can we unreservedly support the settlement of the West Bank by religious and nationalist zealots with whom we have nothing in common? Or a Netanyahu government that plays fast and loose with Israel’s democracy?

As British citizens we can vote and influence how our country is governed. But we are utterly powerless to influence the government of Israel.

Stan Labovitch


No seal, please

​Last week you reported on a proposed government scheme to introduce a “seal of excellence” awarded only to universities that adhere to “the highest standards in dealing with antisemitism” (Government acts after campus death threats, 16 February).

This is a ridiculous and dangerous idea. It is fine for the universities who comply, but what of those who do not? Some may decide it is not worth the time or cost to attain the seal, and just deal with antisemitism on an ad hoc basis. There may even be a few who might not want to bother because they are coerced by some students to think it does not matter, or even support antisemitic attitudes.

When I applied to universities over sixty years ago one or two asked you to state your religion. In effect the “seal” would bring us back to that era. You knew then as a Jew where you could go and where you could not go and this is what the seal scheme would bring back. The term university ghetto would not come amiss.

Alan Schneider

London W13

No discomfort in 2003

​ It would be good for Mark Gardner to clarify his characterisation of the Iraq demo which took place exactly 21 years before his piece on (Last year’s astonishing wave of antisemitism was driven by a deep hatred of the West, 15 February).

Since I was 7 months pregnant at the time I managed less than a mile of that demonstration back in 2003, but from what I saw, in no way was the theme of that march, “No to war in Iraq”, a proxy for a protest about “Palestine”.

There was a family, community, mainstream and friendly atmosphere. Unlike many student loan demos I attended in the 80s which were often hijacked by an assortment of “Anti-Zionists”. I did not experience a moment’s discomfort at that event.

Having had direct, personal, timely and game changing support from CST for which I am profoundly grateful I am sorry to see Mark apparently muddle up the atmosphere at the iconic demonstration in 2003 with what we are seeing every Saturday in London now.

Ruth Bright

Eastleigh, Hampshire

Envy of the world

Karen Glaser laid out the genius of Israel with the even more remarkable reminder that everything was built up by the mentally and physically broken survivors of the Holocaust, exhausted Mizrahi jews hounded out of their homes, and many others arriving into a wasteland of sand, dust and baking sun, needing to urgently create a safe and secureJewish homeland alongside fighting for its very existence (What fuels antisemitism? A lot of it is sheer envy, 16 February).

Today this tiny nation stands proud. Having managed so much against such adversity shows that here is a true winner against all odds. Yes, the envy of the world!

Mrs Caroline Dascal

London E8

French deportations

​ It is regrettable that Anthea Gerrie’s highly informative article on “picture-perfect Paris” (16 February) contained a number of striking historical errors.

In her section on the Marais, Gerrie wrote of “a memorial commemorating the 2,000 Parisian Jews deported by the Nazis”. Given she invokes the “famous wall of names”, Gerrie is likely referring to the Mémorial de la Shoah, a memorial that commemorates all 76,000 Jews deported from France, the overwhelming majority of whom were arrested by French police, detained in French internment camps, and, later, loaded onto French trains, driven by French drivers. These Jewish victims of the Holocaust were not “deported by the Nazis”.

Gerrie’s incorrect figure of “2,000 Parisian Jews” is particularly curious when we recall that 12,884 Parisian Jews were arrested in one single roundup, the July 1942 Rafle du Vel d’Hiv.

Dr Daniel Lee

Queen Mary University of London

February 22, 2024 12:06

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