The JC Letters Page, 11th January 2019

Gordon Kay, Dt Stanley Jacobs, Jeremy Zeid, Harry Bibring BEM, Barry Hyman, Ben Savery share their views with JC readers

January 10, 2019 11:01

It is un-Jewish to move money to avoid taxes

Your recent articles on the theoretical impact of a Corbyn government (Change has to come, but will it be a collapse?, January 4; Thought of Corbyn has Jewish investors running for the hills, December 28) suggest that people are looking to leave the UK, or move their money, for fear of paying more tax. 

But this really only concerns the well-off, who even in our economically successful community, are a minority. These articles are a classic example of focusing on a potential fear for some, rather than looking at the wider impact on the whole community and finding a solution that works for all. This is more question of ethics rather than economics. 

Do these wealthy individuals realise their obsession about paying less tax and a smaller state has been the contributor of the must disruptive period on our socio-economic and political history since the Second World War? 

If they had any ethics, they would stay here, use their money to stabilise the ship, invest in people and services and avoid a hideous result of Brexit. They could use their influence to support leadership campaigns of decent moderate candidates for both parties in the Major and Blair models, to drive our country back from the abyss.

Cowards run when the going gets tough, running their finances to a safe little bolthole, until the storm is over and then cash in when prices are low and the country is deprived. For Jews, this is the antithesis of a just society. 

I am reminded of what the JC said at the start of WW1 about remembering what Britain has done for the Jews and what the Jews must do for Britain. 

While not under the same threats, these difficult times with the fear of a no-deal Brexit, risk much that we have come to appreciate.  

It is time for the most wealthy and politically influential to come forward with the rest of the Jewish community and fight to make a better society. For Jews, wealth equals responsibility to use it build a stronger and more meaningful society for all, not to hide it away in Belize. 

Gordon Kay 

Alas, Lionel Salama’s concern that our children and grandchildren may not celebrate the milestone of 1000 years of “Jewish presence in Britain” in 2070 is well founded — but not for the reason he gave. They will be long dead, for nearly 400 years.

For that was the period during which the Jewish presence in Britain (actually England), was officially eliminated.  

While the French Norman King, William the Conquerer, did indeed invite Jews to England in modest numbers in 1070, they became devilishly reviled by notorious antisemitic tropes and were never protected by the Magna Carta of 1215.  

By 1218 all Jews over 7 years old were forced to wear a badge of yellow taffeta over their hearts and by 1290 they were formally expelled, all their property and wealth being forcibly requisitioned. 

Only in 1657, after considerable opposition, was Oliver Cromwell able to revoke the “English Edict of Expulsion”. During this prolonged period of exclusion a few eminent and “useful” Jews were given special dispensations to enter, while a number of cryptic Jews fleeing Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions in the late15th century were also able to settle, but not without further persecution.

Thus, we can hardly “celebrate” such a prolonged historical period of vicious antisemitism and expulsion which, in modern times, comes closest to that of early Nazi Judenraus policy - harsh as is the comparison.  Moreover, this millennial Jewish presence cannot refer to Scotland, from which reliable records of settlement date only from the late 17th century; or to Wales whose Jewish presence was virtually non-existent.  More relevant, however, would it be to the small number of Irish Jews, who suffered least persecution.

Dr Stanley Jacobs 
London SW18

Dose of its own medicine

Belgium has again shown its true colours not just by banning shechita but by lumping it together with less than humane halal.

Perhaps it is now time for the Jewish dominated diamond trade to reciprocate in kind and leave Belgium, taking with it a very large slice of the economy and relocating to Jerusalem or more conducive climes.

I am sure the vibrant, active, mainly young, fighting age, male, new community in Molenbeek so beloved of the EU elite are sure to fill the resultant now halal-free economic void.

Jeremy Zeid
Kenton, Harrow

Get on with memorial

Barbara Weiss (This is in the wrong place, December 28) has got everything upside down. Victoria Tower Gardens is the perfect place for the new Holocaust Memorial Centre, largely for the reasons she gives not to build it there.  

The fact that the Rodin’s sculpture ‘Burghers of Calais’ and the ‘Buxton Memorial Fountain’ are already there will make excellent bedfellows for the memorial. The former commemorates the 100 years’ war and the latter is a tribute to the emancipation of slavery.  Both already remind us of man’s cruelties to man. 

It will stand in the shadows of the Mother of Parliaments where so much is debated on this topic.  Not least, as we were recently reminded on its 80th anniversary, the Bill debated on 21st November 1938 at 7.28pm that made the Kindertransport possible - saving my sister, me and nearly 10,000 others from certain death.  No other country in the world did anything like this.  Instead they sent refugees back to their death sentence.

The suggestion that the Imperial War Museum (IWM) was discarded as a suitable site for this memorial because it is “on the wrong side of the river” is preposterous.  To consider that its current upgrading of its Holocaust Galleries, which is to be applauded in every way, would be sufficient as a new memorial indicates that Ms. Weiss has not absorbed the full horror of the Holocaust.

The IWM is a war museum.  The Holocaust has not much to do with WWll as it would have occurred if there had not been a war - and indeed was already in progress before 1939. It was part of the plan by the Nazi regime to wipe out all ‘Untermenschen’ of which the Jews were the greatest part, along with Romanis, black people, disabled persons, communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many others who were not pure Aryans.  

Had there been no war, or had the allies lost the war, this would have been applied to all of Europe - including, of course, the UK. 

Then there is her fear that the excavations will  killing off the majestic plane trees.  This is not going to be built by amateur gardeners! Yes it will change the unique character of the park. But it will be an improvement.

The site, the design and its funding has been agreed and put to public scrutiny.  It is now at the planning permission stage. Let’s get on with it and look forward to its completion without further ado. 

Harry Bibring BEM
Bushey Heath, Herts,

Couldn’t be any worse

It’s party time in Israel with every possible expression of view forming a new party.  The latest appears to be yet another ex-military man setting up what may yet be called the Gantzer Macher Party.

I wonder if we in the diaspora might try this at home as our own parliamentary system crumbles?  We have a lot to contribute. I’d suggest the Shmomentum Party, for disillusioned ex socialists; the CalamiTory Party for downhearted conservatives dis’May’ed at the turn of events, and the Eurowasteoftime Party for 2nd referendumers.  

I doubt we could do worse than the current shambles.

Barry Hyman
Bushey Heath

Searching for Norman

I have recently come across a Hertz Chumash beautifully inscribed with the words, “Presented to Pte. Norman Harrison RAMC by the Shepherds Bush Synagogue on his safe return after three and a half years as a prisoner of war in Germany. 14 November 1943”. 

The books belonged to an old family friend who died without relatives, and whose executors were throwing them away. 

It is of no surprise that, after the miracle of his return, the Shepherds Bush Synagogue wished to honour this Jewish prisoner of Nazi Germany in this way. I would like to discover whether Pte Harrison is known, or even related, to any of your readers.  

Ben Savery

January 10, 2019 11:01

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