The JC letters page, 18th May 2018

Samantha Neumann, MS, CGC, Rona Hart, Bina Gardens, J D Norman, William Philpott, David Lederman, Dr Anthony Isaacs, Betty Bloom and Michael Wegier and Simon Johnson share their views with JC readers

May 18, 2017 15:25

Parkinson's risk

In last week’s article on why Jews are more at risk of Parkinson’s disease and research towards a cure, the woman interviewed said she doesn’t see the point in presymptomatic genetic testing.

As a genetic counsellor, I try to help patients learn about their various options from genetic testing and there was one very important point left out of the article.

First-degree relatives of an affected individual have a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the same genetic mutation. Knowing this, allows the option of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). PGD is the creation of an embryo via in vitro fertilisation, biopsying a few cells, and testing the DNA for a heritable genetic disease with the purpose of avoiding passing on a condition to the next generation.

For late onset neurodegenerative diseases, like PD, the current technologies allow for blinded testing of embryos so that future parents do not have to know their disease status if they are presymptomatic. In 2016, LRRK2-related Parkinson’s Disease was approved for PGD in the UK. Although most individuals will not be diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease until after they have had children, PGD provides a potential opportunity for their children to be reassured this will not continue for future generations.

PGD is accessible through the NHS if the couple meet certain criteria (

Of course, this is not the right decision for everyone but, just as it is important to make the public aware of potential progress towards a cure, it is also crucial to educate about other options with the current knowledge we do have.

Samantha Neumann, MS, CGC

Certified Genetic Counsellor

The Bridge Centre

Nakba: the wide gulf

As Ehab Naser, the student from Ramallah,  in his article,  Our Nakba is every day, not just once a year, (JC, May 11) rightly notes, there is a huge difference in the narratives that Israelis and Palestinians tell their respective sides.

It is rather sad that, in his narrative, he omits any mention of the Arab nations’ wars against the Jewish people and the state of Israel, or their widely proclaimed genocidal war aims,  both in the past and, in some cases, up to the present.

Without facing facts, or looking at cause and effect, there can be no meeting of minds, no realistic peace settlement. Perhaps you published such an item to show just how wide a gulf there is between the Palestinian view, as set out in this article,  and the complete picture.

Rona Hart

Haifa, Israel

I am dismayed  that the JC saw fit to platform Palestinian propaganda while ignoring the much greater “Jewish Nakba.”

More Jews than Arabs were made refugees and robbed of their property and ancient heritage. Hundreds were murdered. Many Arab cities —Baghdad was once a quarter Jewish — are today Jew-free. Mizrahi refugees and their descendants  today comprise over half Israel’s Jewish population.

The Palestinian leadership must be held to account, not just for dragging the Arab League into war with Israel, but for inciting violence — such as in the 1941 Farhud (pogrom) in Iraq — against Jews in Arab lands.

No solution can be found to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict unless a permanent exchange of refugees is recognised to have occurred.

Lyn Julius

Harif UK association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa

Bina Gardens

London SW5

Ehab Naser should know by now that “Palestine” was an Ottoman possession for 400 years and yet there is not a single record of an Arab Palestinian call for independence during that period. Greece freed itself from Ottoman rule after 300 years of occupation. The Armenian people were massacred wholesale (it is now recognised as a genocide) in their attempt to free themselves from the Ottoman grip. Yet, still no call from the Palestinian Arab population for an independent state.

The League of Nations did not specifically promise the “Palestinian” people a state of their own. It promised the Arabs independence, which they attained at the end of the League of Nations mandatory period. Following partition, Arab fury turned on their Jewish subjects, subjected to dhimmitude for nearly 1,400 years of Muslim rule. Jews from Arab and Muslim lands were deprived of citizenship, possessions and property, and were forcibly thrown out of lands they had inhabited for hundreds of years or longer.

Has Mr Naser ever given that Nakba a single thought or tried to understand what the experience meant to the Jews of the Mashreq and the Maghreb?

J D Norman

London N12

All credit to the JC for publishing an article, by Ehab Naser, which offered an alternative (if unsurprising) perspective on the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel.

However, I searched in vain for even the slightest criticism of past and current Palestinian leaderships for their rejectionist attitude towards Israel.

As for the freedom of the press, I can only wonder whether any newspaper in the disputed territories would be open-minded enough, not to mention dare to print an alternative view suggesting that Palestinians might in some way be victims of successive Palestinian and other Arab leaderships rather than playing the standard “blame Israel” card.

William Philpott

Daventry, Northamptonshire

Some “Palestinians” (a word reportedly coined only in the 1960s to conveniently describe the Arabs living in Palestine) will do anything they can to blame the Jews for their predicament.

Four hundred Arab towns and villages were depopulated, not “ruined”, circa 1948, when about 700,000 Arabs left their homes, not millions. 

Mr Naser is so short of factual evidence and so indoctrinated with myth, prejudice and rhetoric against Jews that he doesn’t ask himself why the Jewish State is so wary of a section of his society that the consequences become widespread. 

Could it be that Jews just didn’t adapt to being blown up over pizza or taking a bus ride?

In utter contradiction to the picture Mr Naser paints of a population living in IDF-created rubble, with no hope, the footnote states that he is a university student (presumably at an institution not in ruins) and he lives in Ramallah, which a Google image search shows to the a populous, modern, thriving, bustling city, not in ruins.

David Lederman

London NW11

Local elections

The results of the May 4 local elections reveal a complex picture. The increased attention paid to allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party undoubtedly galvanised an increase in the Conservative vote in some areas of significant Jewish population such as Barnet, though it is noteworthy that the Labour vote there also increased, albeit to a lesser extent, even in those wards gained from Labour.

Elsewhere, the position was reversed. In the Hampstead area, in the four wards with a Jewish population of around 10 per cent, there was actually a swing from the Conservatives to Labour, amounting to over eight per cent in Swiss Cottage, where Labour gained three Conservative seats.

For Labour to make further progress and win back the support withheld by Jews and others concerned by the allegations, it is crucial that the detailed recommendations of the Chakrabarti report are implemented rapidly.

It has been less remarked, however, that repeated allegations of racism have been made about members of other parties, with no consistent procedures for addressing them at all.

From the period just prior to May 4, at least a dozen Conservative candidates and councillors have been reported or suspended for alleged racist statements and associations with extremist groups, two of whom were reinstated immediately after the election and remain councillors.

With the Conservatives absorbing much of the UKIP vote, the hostile environment policy objectively disadvantaging immigrants and the economic consequences of a hard Brexit being likely to produce further rises in far right populism, those giving conditional support to this party should be careful what they wish for.

Dr Anthony Isaacs

London NW3

Cycle hero

In connection with your article on the Giro d’Italia, your readers may be interested to learn that the winner of the race in 1936, 1937 and 1946, Gino Bartali, was posthumously recognised  as a “Righteous  Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem for helping Jews during the Second World War. 

According to a survivor, Bartali saved a Jewish family by hiding them in the cellar of his home in Florence.

Throughout the war years, he used his fame, cycling from Florence through Tuscany and Umbria, and as far as Rome, to carry messages and documents to the Italian Resistance. Wearing the racing jersey emblazoned with his name, neither the Italian Fascists nor the German occupiers were prepared to risk public discontent by arresting him.

Betty Bloom

London NW3

Princely presence

As last week’s JC editorial highlighted, we will be welcoming His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, to the community’s major event to mark 70 years of Israel’s independence, Platinum, on Thursday May 24, at the Royal Albert Hall. As a community, it should make us proud that our special anniversary will attract such an honourable presence.

It is a further sign of the enduring support that His Royal Highness has for the UK’s Jewish community and the relationship between the Royal Family and the Jewish people.

This will be a night of exhilarating music and dance and, most importantly, a coming together of thousands to mark this extraordinary occasion. We hope that you will join us. Visit for tickets from £15.

Michael Wegier,

Chief Executive, UJIA

Simon Johnson,

Chief Executive, JLC

Chutzpah vision

That a people who produced Mahler, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Weill, Gershwin, Bernstein, Rubenstein, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein, Berlin, Streisand and Barenboim achieves world acclaim for a clucking cacophony shows that chutzpah conquers all. 

Barrington Black

London NW3

May 18, 2017 15:25

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