Letters to the Editor, December 1 2023

March against antisemitism, visiting Israel and Victoria Coren Mitchell

December 06, 2023 15:00

All credit to CAA

 All credit is due to Gideon Falter and his team at Campaign Against Antisemitism for the remarkable march, which provided an invaluable service to Anglo Jewry.

It not only unified our very diverse community in confronting the “oldest hatred”, but demonstrated to the British public the stark difference between us and the participants of the weekly hate marches which have blighted central London since October 7 — a fact remarked upon in leading articles and letters in the national press.

I was privileged to be there, and it was gratifying to see the union flags alongside the Israeli ones, in an atmosphere devoid of the hateful propaganda, face masks and calls for the destruction of a sovereign state that we have become accustomed to.

The march was dignified and good humoured, despite the circumstances which made it necessary, and the speeches excellent.

In particular, I was moved beyond measure at the turn out of so many of our non-Jewish fellow citizens, who felt the need to show their solidarity with us on a cold, wet November afternoon.

Some told me that it was a privilege to join us to express their repudiation of the antisemitism which made the demonstration necessary.

CAA deserves our gratitude and support for all that they have achieved in recent years.

Kol ha’kavod to them!

James R Windsor
Ilford, Essex

I had the great privilege of attending the March Against Antisemitism with my son. How wonderful it was to be surrounded by Jewish people of all ages. My eyes filled with tears as I looked down Whitehall at the sea of Israeli flags.

How proud to be a Jew in these challenging times.

Helen Leon


Please visit Israel

 I decided to visit friends and museum colleagues across Israel for five days last week.

I was shocked to find Ben Gurion airport empty of travellers and was met with surprise and kind interrogation at passport control as to why on earth I was visiting.

I appeal to the community to reinstate your visit plans, or book anew. I discovered personal presence around a table is a real morale booster to our people who understandably feel unnerved, insecure, sad, angry and, in some ways most of all, isolated and on their own.

My unanticipated conclusion is that Israel is as safe as anywhere right now and no email, zoom, cheque or supplies match the benefit of a “you are not alone” hug in these terrible times.

David Glasser

London NW3

Illuminating definition

You kindly published my modern definition of antisemitism as someone who condemns the Hamas massacre and, in the same sentence, then uses the word “but” before condemning Israel at greater length and with more emphasis (Letters, 27 October).

It has been illuminating, if not surprising or edifying, to note how many, who should know better have since done exactly that. Indeed, on 22 November, Lord Green of Deddington, a former Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, had a letter published in The Times in which he covered two lines on the October 7 massacre, then wrote “but”, and proceeded to condemn Israel over nearly 13 lines.

Many of the Palestinian deaths have resulted from misfired Hamas rockets, and these nihilistic assassins, unlike the Israelis, use their own people as human shields. Significantly, the figure also includes numerous terrorists taken out by the IDF. Is it not the case that the deaths of such people who, for example, deliberately butcher innocent civilians, including a pregnant woman, who died with her baby, after it had been extracted from her ripped open stomach, have no equivalence with the murder of Israelis, who do not stoop to such depravity?

Once Hamas is destroyed, and the hostages have been released, the Gaza war, with its tragic loss of life, will be over.

Gavin Littaur

London NW4

Antisemitic Witches

I was surprised to read John Nathan’s review of The Witches (Witches hidden among us in Dahl’s dark family show, 24 November). He rightly praised young Jewish actor Bertie Caplan who deserves all the plaudits he gets. But he completely failed to understand the nuance of this work given the wider context of the source material.

We all know Dahl’s abhorrent antisemitic views. I went confident that the National Theatre and the Roald Dahl Story Company were sophisticated enough to remove the horrors that are so present in the original — the wig-wearing evil witches symbolise Jews who want to take over the world and kill all the children, with nods to the blood libel being implicit, but for me they didn’t remove these horrors.

The Witches in this production can still be perceived to be Jewish. This is most acutely articulated in the Grand High Witch. I was shocked by her solo number Wouldn’t It Be Nice. The orchestration has many musical tropes of Klezmer sounds— and it is as though they are nodding to Fagin’s You’ve Got To Pick a Pocket Or Two. Furthermore, her European accent, which I read is supposed to be Norwegian but just sounds like an Ashkenazi Jew, is unnecessary. Likewise, she wears a turban when she is in her bedroom.

I am not saying the production is intentionally antisemitic but they are playing with tropes that — given the source material — they should not be, so the production is culturally insensitive and feeds into the narrative that Jews Don’t Count.

There is no doubt this musical will have a long life so they can make changes and stop it being a piece will alienate Jews. When The Witches goes to the West End and they plaster the Jewish Chronicle’s four stars on the poster it will be incredibly uncomfortable for many of your readership who then see this production.

Rachel Katz


Good for Victoria Coren Mitchell. For the second time in the current series of Only Connect she called out Roald Dahl as an unapologetic antisemite. A wonderful follow up to the weekend’s protest march. Hope the BBC allow her to enjoy the latitude given to a certain football commentator and crisp advertiser.

Barry Hyman

Bushey Heath

Please note: we normally only accept letters by email. Individual letters cannot be acknowledged. Letters may be edited. Email address for correspondence is: Please supply postal address.

l The JC takes complaints and corrections seriously. If you have a complaint please email complaints The JC is regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation  which can be contacted on 0300 1232220.

December 06, 2023 15:00

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