The JC letters page, 6th April

Peter Gerner, Mr M Hilder, David Sherman, Malvyn A Benjamin, Professor Roland Littlewood, Agnes Kory, Ruth Keller, Jewish Voice for Labour, Lady Daniela Pears, Robert Dulin, Martin Newman and Colonel M Newman, share their views with JC readers

April 06, 2017 15:25

Left-wing antisemitism

In his thoughtful article (JC,  March 30), Oliver Kamm suggests that the anti-Jewish racism within the far left stems from its conflation of Jews with Israel and with its notion of colonialism.

I first heard this idea some two years ago at a meeting in Westminster organised by the Labour Friends of Israel. The decent folk at that meeting were desperate to find a way to sanitise and thus to justify the sudden animosity of their erstwhile colleagues in constituency parties and the idea that this was just a case of mistaken anti-colonialism provided the necessary answer.  I even heard people talk about “good antisemites”.

There may be an element of truth in this explanation for the loathing of Jews in parts of the far left.  However, based on my personal observations, I believe there is a far deeper explanation.  In my experience of talking to people on the left, I have been struck by how often their prime motivation has been a visceral desire to bring down the wealthy, rather than a concern for the well-being of the majority.  Not so much a love of the many, rather a hatred of the few.  

People with this mentality loathe those whom they see to be more successful than themselves because, they believe, they are equally worthy.  And, as they are equally worthy, the success of others must be down to some unfair advantage.  With this resentment-fuelled mind-set, blaming this unfair advantage on some conspiratorial group is an easy next step.  And we all know where that leads.  

I don’t know if the disease of antisemitism in the Labour party is curable but I am sure it’s a mistake to tackle it as some form of mistaken anti-colonialism.  As David Baddiel has pointed out, “conspiracy theory is how idiots get to feel like intellectuals”, and idiocy and hate aren’t easy to fix.

Peter Gerner
Barnet EN4 

Corbyn declares he is the ally of the Jewish community. I say prove it by:

1: Remove known antisemites from the Labour Party,

2: Publicly cease supporting Hamas and Hezbollah,

3: Stop speaking on a TV channel sponsored by Iran, one of the world’s most anti-Israel states. By implementing these actions, I may start to think his words are genuinely felt. I have a feeling I had better not hold my breath.  

Mr M Hilder 
Weymouth, Dorset

Howard Jacobson reports Jeremy Corbyn as having said that there are “more than a few bad apples” in the Labour Party.

I well remember Sir Mark Weinberg saying many years ago in a different context — crooked life assurance salesmen — that “it only takes one bad apple to contaminate a whole barrel.”

David Sherman, 
London N3

I am usually an admirer of Barrington Black and his letters.  However, I regret that he seems to have joined the League of Trembling Israelites.

The rally was neither “ill-conceived or badly timed”. It actually represented an enormous depth of feeling across the community and the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council are both to be congratulated. 

Both Jonathan Arkush, who has been an inspiring President of the Board, and Jonathan Goldstein deserve all our best wishes.

An irreverent thought: is Jeremy Corbyn working closely with the Aliyah Department because in the event of his winning the next election the figures for aliyah will break all records. 

Malvyn A Benjamin 
London NW4

I have known Jeremy Corbyn for some years through his support of the Refugee Therapy and  Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centres. The notion that he is antisemitic is absurd.

(Professor) Roland Littlewood
University College London

I am a Holocaust child survivor, Jewish from top to bottom and reasonably intelligent (with several university degrees). 

Because of my background — and a very special request by my mother — I have been exposing and fighting antisemitism all my life.

I have not come across any antisemitism in the Labour Party. However, I see non-balanced media reports that increase fear of antisemitism in the Jewish community. 

The Parliament Square rally against alleged antisemitism in the Labour party was accompanied by a rally of Jewish people who are opposed to false antisemitism charges. 

Newsnight covered half of the event: they showed the anti-Corbyn group and two MPs leading the charge but totally ignored the counter-rally where a group of pro-Corbyn Jews protested that the antisemitism charge was false. There were two groups of Jews arguing but the BBC and the media seems to have noticed only one group. 

As far as I know, the media continues to ignore the other side of the coin. Whatever happened to balanced journalism?

Weaponising  “antisemitism” is a deeply upsetting insult to the six million who were murdered.  

It is also an insult to those who are concerned about the resurgence of real antisemitism across the EU and thus are determined to expose and, if necessary, fight it.

Agnes Kory, 
London NW3

Last week’s JC devoted seven pages to antisemitism in the Labour Party and half an inside page to a racist comment by an Israeli Chief Rabbi, a comment which could be seen as reflective of a xenophobic, anti-democratic trend in Israel, which, it seems, is not considered to merit anything like the same examination.

This is somewhat ironic but, more seriously, can hardly be considered balanced journalism and will not encourage an honest discussion of difficult issues in the wider Jewish community.

Ruth Keller, 
London NW4

Voting Labour 

We are Jews in the Labour Party actively campaigning for Labour in local elections. We are appalled by the actions and statements of the Board of Deputies. They do not represent us or the many Jews in the party who share Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for social justice. Jeremy’s consistent commitment to anti-racism is all the more needed now.

As the British people call time on the Tories, they are getting more desperate.

We would hope any organisation claiming to represent Jews would be calling them to account when, to cite two examples in the past two months, the Prime Minister‘s ex Chief of Staff uses a national newspaper to dredge up an antisemitic conspiracy theory, and Havering Conservative party issues a dog-whistle leaflet hoping to mobilise racism in their local election campaign.

The Board of Deputies has been silent on both. It also says nothing on the global rise of the far right and the toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric of the tabloid press.

The Board of Deputies and those supporting them must be aware that this is an attempt to influence local elections and has nothing to do with the real task of challenging racism and antisemitism at all levels of political life. We call on them to stop playing politics and start representing what our community needs. We believe that is best represented by the politics we hope to see win on May 3.

Sue Lukes Labour council candidate, Islington North CLP

Joseph Finlay Enfield Southgate CLP

Lev Taylor Camberwell and Peckham CLP

Stephen Marks Oxford District Labour Party

Richard Kuper Holborn & St Pancras CLP

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Chingford and Woodford Green CLP

Cllr Mike Howard Hastings & Rye CLP

Glyn Secker

Dave Rosenberg Islington North CLP Convenor Cable Street 80

Julia Bard Islington North CLP

Ian Saville, Brent Central CLP

Lara Johnson. Bracknell CLP

Ivor Dembina Vauxhall CLP

Pam Laurance, Brent Central CLP

Pauline Laurance, Finchley and Golders Green CLP

Miriam Yagud Stroud CLP

Miri Franklin Dorothy Macedo Worthing West CLP

Alice Bondi, Penrith and the Border CLP

Sue Hughes Hornsey & Wood Green. CLP

Angie Mindel Nottingham East CLP

Paul Halas Stroud CLP

Ruth Appleton, Holborn & St Pancras CLP

Daniel Vulkan, Hornsey & Wood Green CLP

Susan Pashkoff, Leyton and Wanstead CLP

Professor Lynne Segal Islington North CLP

Brian Warshaw Labour International

John Goodman Rugby CLP

Mica Nava Islington North CLP

Professor David Epstein, FRS. Kenilworth & Southam CLP

Diana Neslen Ilford South CLP

Roland Rance, Walthamstow CLP

Eran Cohen, Finchley and Golders Green CLP

Annabelle Sreberny Islington North CLP

Mark Findlay, Brighton Pavilion CLP

Inbar Tamari Walthamstow CLP

Rebecca Lissak Bristol East CLP

Cllr Barry Lewis Thanet North CLP

Professor Judith Suissa Finchley and Golders Green CLP

Ivan Wels, Nottingham East CLP

Riva Joffe, Holborn and St Pancras CLP

Ruth Lukom Walthamstow CLP

Mike Gerber Walthamstow CLP

Sue Shaw Henley CLP

Deborah Maccoby Leeds North-East CLP

Alex Scott-Samuel Liverpool Wavertree CLP

Professor Andrew Samuels Islington North CLP

Rosamine Hayeem Harrow East CLP

Abe Hayeem Harrow East CLP

Cllr Barry Kushner Liverpool Garston and Halewood CLP

Professor Miriam E David Hornsey and Wood Green CLP

Shlomit Ferguson Enfield CLP

Jay Blackwood Bristol East CLP

Councillor Barry Buitekant Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP

David Goldberg Twickenham CLP

Frances Rifkin Holborn and St Pancras CLP

Dr Rachel Garfield Tower Hamlets CLP

Nina Lyndon Tottenham CLP

Dee Howard Hastings & Rye CLP

Jenny Manson and Leah Levane co-chairs of JVL, on behalf of Jewish Voice for Labour

Looking for love

It was with mixed feelings that I read that the founder of JSwipe is “still searching for love” (JC March 16). Technology is obviously not able to provide all the answers. Maybe Mr JSwipe would like to move to London to meet us, and maybe his future wife!

We Go Together is a volunteer-run matchmaking service providing a free, old-fashioned face-to-face values based interview, whereby we match a person with someone like-minded. Sure, we share a photo, but it’s far deeper than that. We have lots of wonderful women on our database waiting to meet their perfect match so, come on, Mr JSwipe and all those other Jswipers out there, if online dating has not brought you “love”, the old-fashioned introduction way just might.

Lady Daniela Pears, 
Chair, We Go Together.


Double standards

Last week in the Gaza strip 15 Palestinians, egged on by the callous terrorist Hamas organisation, were killed by the IDF, who were doing their duty defending the Israeli border.  

As usual, the world went into meltdown, hurling vitriolic abuse in blaming Israel for a conflict that was not of their making.

As usual, where Israel is concerned, the UN immediately convened the Security Council and condemned the Jewish state, without any condemnation of Hamas duplicity

The media followed suit spewing out their usual anti-Israel mantra, as did Muslim countries, whose records on human rights are some of the worst in the world. 

A few days after the border clash, I was listening to the BBC news and a 21-second item was about Indian security forces killing 20 demonstrators in Kashmir.  

No UN emergency meeting, hardly anything in the press, or anger from world leaders. Hypocrisy of the highest order, which sadly showed that the Jewish state will always be treated differently to any other country around the globe.  Perhaps we will have to wait for the Messiah to come and redeem the world, before that despicable state of affairs changes. 

Robert Dulin, 
London N21

Jewish chaplains

I was delighted to see your report (March 22) of the military communal service held at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, Bevis Marks to confirm the installation of the Jewish armed forces chaplains.  Sadly your article was inaccurate and did not reflect the press release issued by the Ministry of Defence or the magnitude of the event.

The chaplains were not the first to be commissioned and have been in post for some time.  They are, however the first Jewish chaplains to be appointed to minister to all faiths and attached to units in addition to their obligation to provide pastoral services to Jewish personnel.  This was an historic occasion where the service was led by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy and the three principal chaplains of the Royal Navy, the Army and the RAF, a unique event in itself.  Rabbi Reuben Livingstone was commissioned six years ago and is the senior chaplain with specific Jewish faith responsibility but also ministers as regimental chaplain to a Royal Logistics Corps Regiment.

The synagogue was packed with over 400 guests including the Earl Howe, Minister of State for Defence, a number of senior military leaders including the General Officers commanding London District, Regional Command. Major General Paul Nanson, commandant of the Royal Military Academy, Sandurst also attended in his role as Colonel of the Royal Fusiliers which raise the Jewish Battalions of WWl, known as the Judeans.

At a time of increasing anti-Semitism, the event sent out a strong message that Jews have served this country in proportionally high numbers and continue to do so today.

Martin Newman
Colonel M Newman DL
Chairman Jewish Committee for HM Forces


April 06, 2017 15:25

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