The JC Letters Page, 25th October 2019

JC readers share their views

January 10, 2020 14:13

Climate controversies at the heart of Judaism 

We write to express our support for our colleague Rabbi Jeffrey Newman (Arrested rabbi praised for his climate message, October 18) whilst leading Succot prayers in an act of non-violent direct action protest as part of Extinction Rebellion. 

Succot reminds us of our dependence on nature. Scientific evidence shows the threat to natural systems that endangers humanity. As rabbis and cantors we have turned to Jewish wisdom to encourage engagement with the climate crisis over the High Holy Day period. 

Whilst we have not chosen to express ourselves through non-violent direct action as Rabbi Newman did, we thank him for his unwavering dedication and we admire his bravery. We encourage all to continue to raise their concerns and to work together for the future of humanity.

Rabbi Daniel Lichman
Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers
Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky
Rabbi Alexandra Wright
Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu
Rabbi Professor Tony Bayfield CBE
and 27 other rabbis

It is a pity that Anne Garvey’s review of Naomi Klein (Logical, ration and passionate, October 18) spent so many column inches on controversies that there was no space to precis her eight proposals for heading off climate change. Similarly you completed the page with Jonathan Foer’s green puritanism objecting high meat content diets, but little else (Climate change creates need for ‘a new kind of hero’, October 18). People need hope from practical suggestions or they just revert to soap opera and spectator sport.

Prof Crowther of Zurich has calculated that planting a trillion trees (a million million) will take up all the carbon emitted by industry etc these past two centuries by a third increase in trees.  If the JNF can do so for Israel — half in her first decade — the rest of the world can.

Flying is berated fpr its 8 per cent of total emissions but we and the media miss that cement and concrete also emit 8 per cent. This can be changed quickly (within the decade) by switching from carbonate (limestone) to silicate (sand) raw material. As for flying:  tax the fuel for internal flights to make rail fares competitive. For liquid vehicle fuels in general Antwerp, or Amsterdam, wartime buses ran on ammonia (NH3). Please invite Colin Shindler to revive his chemistry to explain the bottlenecks in such a switch and why any inefficiency — still exuding NOx — would even so pay for avoiding carbon use.

We have the engineering to stop the climate upset by the above besides a “salad” of wind, solar and tidal electricity;  insulating buildings and heat pumps — an adjusted fridge or air conditioning mechanism,  for heating space and water — or cooling in hot latitudes.  All jobs for our children.

Frank Adam

Last week’s JC contained two book reviews on climate change and one report from the Extinction Rebellion protest. All put forward the ideas that climate change is a recent phenomenon due to mankind’s activities and that we can reverse or slow down these changes.

Geologists tell us that there have been several Ice Ages, each lasting thousands of years, when there were no or very few humans around. These Ice Ages ended by the Earth warming up, melting the ice caps which were several km thick and raising the sea levels. 

What caused this warming? Not humans. Some scientists claim we are still in the remains of the last Ice Age and the Earth is still warming up naturally.  

We humans may only have speeded up the process. It is only recently that we have been able to observe and measure this warming. How do we know that this  has not been going on for hundreds of years?  How do we know if the Polar Ice Caps have  been shrinking for centuries? Satellite pictures, ice thickness measurements, global sea levels, world temperature records are truly last minute advances.

As an individual I do many of the things mentioned in the articles and I could do more. However, we all use some sort of fuel to heat our house in winter.  Most of us need transport of one kind or another to get to work.

Eating less meat is only a drop in the ocean compared to China opening a coal fired power station every month.

The real problem for the climate is the ever growing population. Perhaps climate change is nature’s way of correcting the balance.

By all means do what we can to slow down the warming but I do not think it will have any significant effect.  

Anne Redwood
Hitchin, Herts

Ideological myopia

In his anthology The Best Poems of the English Language, the great American critic Harold Bloom opens his Keats selection with The Fall of Hyperion: “Fanatics have their dreams wherewith they weave/ a paradise for a sect”. These fanatics, afflicted with idealogical myopia, as Colin Shindler points out (Ideological myopia has delivered hate, October 18), may “weave a paradise for a sect” but they build, also, nightmares for others, regardless of the facts of history.

These facts, such as the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the city of Jerusalem in 1948, of the ethnic expulsion of Jews from Arab states and Iran in the years following Israel’s independence (some 750.000 according to Lyn Julius), should question their ideological mindset. 

No matter, for them, these facts must be contested or denied but at no time may they be accepted. 

Just as their ideological mindset once denied the murder of 20,000 Polish officers at Katyn or the deliberate murder by starvation or execution  of some 7 million Ukrainians in the 1920s and 1930s, or the Nazi-Communist collaboration in the invasion of Poland in 1939, so today, Ken Loach, Ken Livingstone and Seumas Milne deny the right of Israel to exist and the Jewish people a right to an independent state. Does Ken Loach truly believe that, “All history is our common heritage to discuss and analyse”? Or does he find that it is only the Holocaust and the Holocaust alone that must remain open to question via the “ideological myopia” of the Bourbons of the hard left who have learned nothing of the past or choose wilfully and perversely to ignore it?

JD Norman
London N12 

Unfulfilled mandate

Apropos the interesting story about Josiah Wegewood (The MP who spoke out to help Jewish refugees, October 18) who attempted to open the gates of Palestine it is worth noting that ‘His Britannic Majesty’ as trustee of the League of Nations took upon itself to “facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish agency… close settlement by Jews on the lands, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes” [Article 6 of the Mandate]. But even when it was a question of life and death this duty was not fulfilled.

Dr Yair Sternberg

Keep it simple, please

What is it with your recipes? Most weeks they include obscure ingredient such as cured lemon paste, rose harissa and date syrup — these are examples just from this week’s two recipes!

Let’s make it a bit more simple — we are not all a stone’s throw away from Soho’s delis. Not all your readers live in London.

Paul Gilbert

But what about the policies?

In your excitable reporting on the possibility of Lucianna Berger becoming the Liberal Democrat MP for Finchley and Golders Green (Shock poll puts Berger on top in Finchley seat, October 18) you omitted any mention of the policies often attributed to her new party on circumcision and shechita. As I am soon to take up permanent residence in the constituency I wrote to Miss Berger on September 27 asking her to clarify the Lib Dems’ position on these issues. 

I have yet to receive a reply. 

Bernard Oster
Cheadle Cheshire

January 10, 2020 14:13

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