The JC

Letters to the Editor, November 24, 2023

Jonathan Freedland, hostages and the BBC


11/25/2023 Tel Aviv, Isreal. The weekly rally of families of hostages and their supporters, on Saturday evening at the "Hostages Square" in Tel Aviv. This time, the rally was held in mentioning 50 days since the hostages were taken by Hamas, while in the background, a first deal to release at least 50 hostages is underway. According to estimates, 50,000-100,000 people gathered at the rally. (Photo by Ori Aviram / Middle East Images / Middle East Images via AFP) (Photo by ORI AVIRAM/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images)

November 24, 2023 00:00

Marcher motives

Jonathan Freedland argues that most on the streets marching for Palestine are not antisemites but motivated by images seen on TV and grieving, especially for the children (These are dark times but we mustn’t let fear cloud our judgment, November 17).

I would be more willing to accept his argument if those same people had come out in force when Jewish children and women were brutally raped and sadistically murdered.

Dr Eli Jaldow

London NW11

Jonathan Freedland urges us not to panic over the worldwide surge in antisemitism, not least in this country. He forgets that there are times when panic is the only rational response to a situation where tens of thousands are allowed to march against Israel, many proclaiming the most vile antisemitism, while the police, who are supposed to protect us, just look on.

If that isn’t a reason for panic what is?

True, as he says, not all the marchers may be antisemitic. But how does he know how many are? By allying themselves with antisemitic extremists their position is compromised, to say the least.

And how many of them marched in sympathy with the Israelis after October 7, or called for the captives to be released?

Mr Freedland goes on to attack the author and journalist Douglas Murray, one of the few friends that we Jews have, as having his own agenda. Could that be his stance against Islamism? With due respect, Mr Freedland is in no position to write about Mr Murray’s agenda when he himself writes for the Guardian, a newspaper whose anti-Zionism spills over into antisemitism, as for example its reproducing the Bin Laden letter vilifying Jews.

With the ratcheting up of antisemitism, and the inaction of the police, we surely have reason enough to be very worried, notwithstanding Mr. Freedland’s assurances.

Lionel Blumenthal

London NW11

Jonathan Freedland writes that not all the pro-Palestine protesters should be considered antisemites. It does beg the question as to why when the Syrian army and its Russian ally were bombing hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo in 2016, and starving its civilian inhabitants; when in 2017 the Burmese persecution of the Rohingya Muslims resulted in over 740,000 having to flee their homes and seek sanctuary in Bangladesh; when there have been over one million victims of Chinese repression of the Uyhgur Muslims, we have heard nary a peep.

And all these examples refer to a deliberate policy of killing civilians. Yet only when Israel sets out to protect its citizens from barbaric terrorists, and regrettably innocent civilians are killed, suddenly do the protesters become exercised by the death (note, not deliberate murder) of civilians, such that they are prepared to demonstrate week after week.

Perhaps Mr Freedland is correct. However I would love some of the demonstrators to explain why in no other example of civilian casualties did they feel it was incumbent upon them to demonstrate and protest.

Martyn J. Wolff

London NW4

Offensive ruling

Almog Meir Jan, aged 21, was taken hostage by Hamas and last seen in a video taken by them at 12.30 pm on October 7, following the Supernova desert rave.

Before his mother, Orit, was permitted to enter the Houses of Parliament to draw attention to his plight and canvass support for his release, she was required to remove the T-shirt that she was wearing, which bore a photograph of her son.

Rules of entry to parliament forbid the wearing of clothing bearing “political or offensive slogan materials”. When a mother tries to draw attention to the fact that her son was kidnapped by what the British government refers to as a terrorist organisation, that is apparently “political or offensive”.

Have the British lost their moral compass?

Rabbi Michael Boyden

Hod Hasharon, Israel

BBC pledge

I will vote for whichever party pledges to abolish the TV licence fee and make the BBC a subscription service. It is an affront to human decency to force people to pay the wages of the likes of Jeremy Bowen and Gary Lineker against their will.

David Miller

Chigwell, Essex

We do have friends

I read David Angel’s reflections with a sense of growing sadness (October 7 left me feeling more Jewish than ever, November 10). He described the effect of the unfolding of events after October 7 on his identity and his perceptions of, and reactions to, the world around us. I think it’s time we as Jews both dig deep into our reserves of strength and engage more with the world by partnering with the many good friends we have out there.

Rabbi Sacks wrote in Future Tense that, “The problems faced by Jews today are faced by everyone who believes in freedom, democracy and the dignity of the individual.

The idea that Jews alone are threatened by terror, hate and the attrition of identity is simply misplaced. In the battles that lie ahead they have allies, but only if they seek them and are willing to work with them, with humility and a sense of global responsibility.”

Israel and the Jews have seen leaders of the world take moral stands at great personal political risk, particularly in the UK. The importance of this cannot be understated.

We are grateful and we must strengthen and build on these coalitions. To quote Rabbi “Sacks again: “Now, when every instinct is telling Jews to turn inward, to fear and be defensive, is the time to do precisely the opposite.”

Simon Cadranel


November 24, 2023 00:00

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