The JC letters page, 12th January

David Kaye, Barrington Black, Rabbi Michael Hilton, Rabbi David Hulbert, Barry Hyman, Diana Mohr and M Schachtershare their views with JC readers

January 12, 2017 12:29

McMafia overreaction

UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) should learn to keep their powder dry for real issues and not shoot from the hip every time the BBC mentions Israel, as in the production of the excellent serial, McMafia ( JC January 5). 
It is well known that Russian/Israeli gangsters operate there and understandable that many, or at least some, of them are Jewish. So I do not see any “gratuitous slur on Israel”.
UKLFI embarrass themselves by objecting to the well-known phrase, “by deception we will do war”, Mossad’s motto, and preferring the King James translation of Proverbs 24.6 substituting “deception” for “wise guidance “. I suspect Mossad would regard “deception” as a compliment.
In other versions, JPS has “stratagems” and even ArtScroll has “strategies”, both implying something shady. I am no grammarian but I do know how to use the standard Hebrew-English Alcalay dictionary which gives tachbulah as “trick, cunning, artifice”. 
UKLFI is a fine organisation but on this occasion has fallen for the common fault of protesting too much 
David Kaye 
I think my fellow Lawyers for Israel are uber-sensitive. After all, have they never come across the odd Israeli business man who is, shall we say, “overenthusiastic”, or untroubled but certainly not “unroubled” by Russian ethics, and perhaps the odd Israeli beauty in a night club with similar levels of enthusiasm?  
Perhaps they would prefer the fiction writers to stick to fiction. For example, a totally imagined saga about a prime minister constantly under interrogation, a president in prison, senior army officers who take night manoeuvres literally, and the odd  member of the clergy who dips his hand in the till.  
Completely implausible, but what a story. Oh, and I do love Israel, warts and all.
Barrington Black
London NW3

Coroners’ powers

Your report ( JC, January 5) on how hard it is to dismiss a coroner is only one example of the inadequacies of the system. 
My dear sister sadly took her own life in 2014. The West London Coroner, Chinyere Inyama, did an excellent job of holding the NHS to account, bringing to light at the inquest many disastrous errors. But, afterwards, I discovered that his powers to make improvements were unbelievably limited. All he can do is issue a notice on preventing future deaths, which is nothing more than a polite exchange of letters. The powers to inspect and probe further do not exist. This is because an inquest is just an inquiry with no powers to apportion blame.
In the past, and still in high-profile cases, publicity provided the incentive for follow-up. But, with the decline in local reporting and in coroners’ juries, very few inquests get publicity. There is no easy way to find out what inquests are coming up, and no available transcripts afterwards. 
Every coroner’s court is wasting millions in public funds going through detailed evidence that the relevant authorities never get to hear. No inquest records are available online. If a relative requests a recording of an inquest, it comes with a warning that it is prohibited to publicise it.
Coroners are running an antiquated system which does not meet today’s needs.
Rabbi Michael Hilton
London NW7 
As a friend of Barry Davis k’z,  I was distressed that his funeral had to be delayed by 10 days because of the Christmas holidays and an unfriendly and obstructive coroner.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. I have worked as a community rabbi in the London Borough of Redbridge for over 28 years and over that long period I have met nothing but understanding and co-operation from local GPs, hospital doctors, coroners and registrars. They have generally leant over backwards to help grieving Jewish and Muslim families secure the signed death certificate, then speedily register the death to allow the funeral to take place. 
The other signatories to this letter have in recent weeks had the responsibility of arranging the funeral of a close relative. They can confirm my positive experiences and are very grateful to our local officials in Redbridge and Waltham Forest.
May you live to 120, but if you are going to die, and want a speedy funeral, then I recommend that you die in Redbridge!
Rabbi David Hulbert  
(Warran Rolnis Elaine George Michelle Levy).
East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue
I often disagree with Melanie Phillips’s views but in her article, Time to shame those who spread prejudice ( JC, Jan 5), she hits the nail on the head.
The Israeli government is far from blameless and criticism of it is entirely justified but, to single out Israel time after time while turning a blind eye to so many countries that perpetrate unspeakable atrocities, restrict or persecute religious beliefs, restrict freedom of the press and political opposition and persecute gays and lesbians must be recognised as pure and simple antisemitism.
Rabbi David Hulbert  
London SW19

Stella performance

Stella Creasy MP faces unpleasant opposition in her own constituency from hard-left Momentum activists. She takes further risk in coming to speak at Limmud.
What is her reward? A shameful headline:  Why Creasy was disappointing at Limmud ( JC, Jan5). She deserves better than Marcus Dysch’s nit-picky piece and she certainly doesn’t need his sympathy. So some people “got up and drifted away”. What were they expecting? A promise to run Corbyn and his claque out of town? 
Labour MPs prepared to put their heads above the parapet — John Mann notably another — do not need to have their performances and objectives traduced. A better and more honest headline would have read: “Stella Creasy at Limmud continues to fight our corner”.
Barry Hyman
Bushey Heath

Affront to democracy

Rabbi Bassous ( JC Letters, Jan 5 and passim) just does not get it. The reason for the collapse in central Orthodox synagogue membership (as reported in the JPR Report, July 2017) cannot be blamed on either Chief Rabbi Mirvis or Rabbi Dweck but on the activities of the Charedim who have steadily pervaded central Orthodox communities with negative consequences. 
Thirty to forty years ago, the United Synagogue could have been described as a “broad church”. But not any more, with its rabbonim spending too much of its time looking over its shoulders for Charedi approval. Consequently, US members have voted with their feet in the direction of Reform, Liberal and, more particularly in London, the Masorti, whose membership has doubled in the past 25 years. 
Furthermore, Rabbi Bassous’s intention to create “a safe space” in Hendon by organising a demonstration against Rabbi Dweck’s lecture programme on Maimonides at LSJS before knowing its content, is an affront to the democratic society in which we all (including Rabbi Bassous) are lucky to live, an important tenet of which is freedom of speech.
Diana Mohr 


Archers and Cossacks

The Archers, facing Pip’s unexpected pregnancy by an undesired man, would do well to comfort themselves with the old Yiddish proverb, zoll zein f’n a Cossack a bie zum leben. Roughly translated, this states: “even if the baby has been fathered by a Cossack it is entitled to a life”. 
Ruth Soetendorp
(via email)

Same old song-sheet

Some 100 so-called artists have signed the open letter supporting Lorde’s participation in the BDS movement. They include such “surprising” names as Waters, Loach and Margolyes. 
These individuals would sign anything anti-Israeli as a spinal reflex response, no mental activity involved. Why do you dignify this as news?
M Schachter
London NW6
January 12, 2017 12:29

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