The JC Letters Page, 26th April 2019

Barbara Weiss, Shimon Cohen, Gary Mond, Laurie Rosenberg, Dan Alder, David-Hillel Ruben and Kay Bagon share their views with JC readers

May 02, 2019 11:50

Justified objections

In highlighting — most appropriately — the totally unacceptable nature of antisemitic comments on Westminster’s Planning Portal, your article (MPs urge council to act over Shoah memorial hate, JC, April 19) doesn’t sufficiently convey that these are attributable to a mere handful of writers.  The overwhelming majority of objectors to a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens are totally committed to seeing this project built — on a more appropriate site. 

Furthermore, your article fails to fairly represent our campaign’s collective position in relation to deeply felt, personal and professional opinions regarding the protection of London’s precious public green spaces; nor does it mention the growing numbers of Jewish supporters, united in asking that this park should not be destroyed in their name.

In searching for support for a project with such high moral ambitions, the UK Holocaust Foundation needs to become much more forthright about the following facts: 

The core of the dispute is only to do with saving from destruction a unique corner of historic London; better alternatives exist, including the Imperial War Museum or College Green, the latter adjacent to Parliament, the former one of the original sites. 

Save VTG has been extremely pro-active in obtaining prompt removal of antisemitic comments. It is therefore totally unfair that your article should cynically lead your readers to associate our campaign with such odious, mad remarks.

For the UKHMF not to convey these points deliberately confuses a planning dispute with antisemitism.

Finally, the statement: “Most Westminster residents have expressed support for the project” is untrue.  The real level of objection to this site is proven by the huge majority of negative comments accrued at Public Consultations, 11,500 signatures to our petition, and nearly 800 objections on WCC’s Planning Portal.

Barbara Weiss
Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign

Rebirth in Krakow

Museums and memorials are of course important. We must never forget. Ambassador Rzegocki (JC, April 19) highlights some remarkable sites that are most certainly must-sees on any visit to Poland. 

However, the present must not be overlooked. The Jewish Community Centre in Krakow, founded by World Jewish Relief and established by UK philanthropists led by Leo Noé, is a shining light of rebirth and regeneration. 

Situated in the heart of Kazimierz, JCC Krakow, provides a full range of Jewish religious and cultural activities for all ages including weekly Shabbat dinners for local Jews and visitors, a senior club for 60 Holocaust survivors, teen programming, and a student programme with more than 50 participants. 

It recently established the first community Jewish pre-school in Krakow since the Holocaust and is a meeting place for Jews and non-Jews both local and visiting. Hundreds of local Krakowians learn Hebrew, Yiddish and Arabic at the centre as well as attend films, workshops and lectures. The JCC welcomed 140,000 visitors in 2018, who witnessed first-hand the remarkable rebirth of Jewish life in Krakow, which the JCC spearheads.

I have been proud to serve on the JCC’s Board since its inception more than a decade ago and visit regularly. Each visit moves me far more than memorials and museums. 

Shimon Cohen
London N2

Who’s enabling whom?

V In recent months, the word “enabler” has crept into our language when talking about those people who are happy to support Jeremy Corbyn and help him into government in spite of knowing about the antisemitism that courses through the veins of the Labour Party.  The contempt with which the word is sometimes deployed is at times not dissimilar to that which one hears when the expression “kapo” is used.

Those who decided to remain members of the Labour Party, in spite of the antisemitism, have been called enablers. In my view this is going too far, as such individuals would argue that they are fighting to change the Labour Party from within. 

While I don’t believe they have much chance of success, at least their stance can be respected.

Yet, last week, the new Jewish Labour Movement chair, Mike Katz, announced that his organisation would not campaign at a general election for Labour candidates who have backed the leadership its handling of antisemitism, thereby seeming to imply that it would back other Labour candidates who have not.  

Yet all Labour candidates at a general election would, if elected, take the Labour whip with a view to delivering the keys to 10 Downing Street to Jeremy Corbyn. If my implication is correct, then the Jewish Labour Movement is, indeed, a group of enablers. Perhaps Mike Katz might like to clarify the position?

Gary Mond
London NW7

Real peaceful protest

While agreeing with the need to save our planet, it’d be a more effective protest if everyone kept the spirit of Shabbat for one day, which has sustained our Jewish continuity for three millennia.

So, choose a day, encourage everyone to turn off everything non-essential, put away all social media and switch off the laptop , mobile phone, tablet or TV. Don’t shop or drive but spend quality time with family and friends. And who suffers? Power companies and the greedy corporations that profit from carbon spend. 

More importantly, it would have an immediate impact on reducing emissions by up to 14 per cent every week.

Surely a much more intelligent protest than contributing to pollution by causing traffic chaos or glueing yourself to a train.

Laurie Rosenberg
Woodford Green

Too much to swallow

Noting Clive Rosen’s letter (JC, April 19) about inexplicable price hikes for kosher-for-Pesach food products, I’d also question why so many of the products are simply inedible. I don’t profess to know how to manufacture yogurt but I know that it shouldn’t have the consistency of water.  Equally, I don’t know how to make cheese but in this age of advanced food technology, why does Pesach cheese taste of bland plastic — i. e. nothing.  

As for ketchup that (if lucky) has passed a tomato in the factory, orange juice that tastes like a 1970s throwback and potato crisps that have enough salt to give the eater instant high blood pressure, I wonder why we accept the sort of food that would not pass muster in any decent shop at any other time of the year.  

I understand that a number of the products are imported from the US, thus explaining the extravagant use of artificial colours and flavours  (or flavors). It’s one thing being ripped off financially — it’s another when both the taste and the price leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Dan Adler
London N20

‘At last, we can kvell’

In the sentence below your front-page picture of Notre Dame’s west façade (Amid Notre-Dame’s tragedy, a happy couple, April 19), you refer to a carving in the façade, which pictures “the marriage of Virgin Mary’s Jewish parents, Anna and Joachim”. 

How odd for the JC to refer to the mother of Jesus as “the Virgin Mary”. Her name was Mary (Miriam, presumably); the addition of “Virgin” is a title, and inappropriately (for us, at any rate) imports a bit of Christology into the story. 

Anne (Chana) and Joachim were of course Jesus’s bubbe and zayde. I’m sure they would have been thrilled to be mentioned in the JC, along with their daughter and grandson. 

David-Hillel Ruben
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
The University of London
London NW4

The Funny Party

Following in the footsteps of the recent Ukrainian election, which David should replace Theresa May?

Miliband, Baddiel or Schneider?

Kay Bagon
Radlett, Herts

May 02, 2019 11:50

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