The JC Letters Page June 2 2017

Lyn Julius, Jeffrey Newman, J Fluss, Dr Kosta Manis, Henry Clinton-Davis Stephen Brownstone and Adrian and Marlies Haselton share their views with JC readers

June 09, 2017 17:05

Six-Day War had far-ranging impact across many countries and for many Jews

Congratulations on your Six-Day War supplement. Allow me to point out, however, that your coverage omits one significant aspect: the war’s catastrophic impact on the remaining Jewish communities in Arab countries.

Popular anger at the humiliating Arab defeat by Israel was turned against local Jews. There were mass demonstrations in almost all Arab countries as Jewish citizens were taken for Israelis.

Jews were arrested in Morocco on fabricated charges. In Tunisia, a mob set fire to Jewish businesses and to the great synagogue in Tunis. In Aden, where the Jewish school was burnt down, and in Libya, where 18 Jews were killed, violent riots caused the remnant Jewish communities to be evacuated for their own safety.

In Egypt, 400 male Jews were imprisoned as “Israeli PoWs”. Some were tortured and abused for up to three years. In Iraq, the government launched a witch-hunt accusing Jews of being Zionist spies. Show trials culminated in the execution of nine Jews on 27 January 1969 and the disappearance of dozens of others. 

Half-a-million Iraqis came to celebrate the hangings in Baghdad’s main square. 

All in all, the Six-Day War ushered in a period of unprecedented repression and terror and hastened the demise of ancient, pre-Islamic communities.

In Morocco and Tunisia numbers have drastically diminished. 

Elsewhere in the Arab world, Jews are today either extinct, or can be counted on the fingers of one or two hands.

Mrs Lyn Julius 
Harif , UK Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa
London SW5 

There is a small post-script to your coverage of the Six-Day War. In late May, all the Jewish Youth Organisations came together and worked to provide whatever support we were able, in particular, gathering blankets and medical supplies in three vast storage facilities.

When hostilities ceased Awraham, now Rabbi, Soetendorp and myself approached the Consul-General, Ra’anan Sivan, to suggest that since the six-day victory had seemingly miraculously left few Israeli casualties, we should like the supplies to be distributed among the Palestinians, who had been left with so many wounded. 

The Consul-General was enthusiastic and said he would immediately wire Jerusalem and that we should return the next day for the answer.

When we did so, he regretted to tell us that the response had been negative on the grounds that it might be construed as an admission of guilt suggesting that Israel had been responsible for the war. 

That moment confirmed for both Awraham and myself that we were to be rabbis and not politicians. 

Jeffrey Newman
Emeritus Rabbi Finchley Reform Synagogue

However much we rejoice on the 50th anniversary of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, I feel a tinge of sadness because it was the last time that Israel unequivocally won a war.  Every war since then has ended either in stalemate or a very short-lived victory as in the First Lebanon War.

Israel needs to relearn to win wars and establish deterrence, not just to “manage” a stalemate until the next war breaks out.  To quote US General Douglas Macarthur who fought the Korean War to stalemate “in war there is no substitute for victory”.

J Fluss 
London NW4

Screen dangers

Chana Kanzen lists the benefits of screens (Education June 2), but omits the deleterious effects omnipresent screens have on children’s physical and mental health. 

Public Health England, the government agency responsible for the prevention and management of obesity, acknowledges that, in children, television viewing is strongly associated with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. 

In contrast to harmful screens, reading improves sleep patterns and reduces depression. The importance of reading to children and teaching them to read cannot be over-emphasised. It boosts their reading potentials, strengthens relationships and increases their concentration.

Dr Kosta Manis, 
GP-Principal.  Obesity Lead Bexley Medical Group,
Sidcup, Kent, DA15 

Dweck’s bravery

I do not feel I am alone in feeling considerable disquiet at the silence of our Modern Orthodox leadership in the face of the vitriolic attacks on Rabbi Joseph Dweck emanating from certain sections of the Charedi community (Rabbi attacks Sephardi leader for ‘dangerous’ gay love speech, June 2) . 

Rabbi Dweck has shown considerable bravery and compassion in expressing support for an unfairly marginalised and stigmatised section of our community. 

An Orthodox rabbinate that either supports the demagoguery expressed by Rabbi Aaron Bassous, or is scared into silence in case they are themselves labelled “not Orthodox” for not sharing his intolerance, may well find that some of their less narrow-minded congregants, particularly among the younger generation, no longer look up to them as leaders.  

Henry Clinton-Davis 
London N3

Anger and sadness

As residents of the Isle of Sheppey, we want to express our intense anger and sadness at the way the family that visited Sheppey was  treated (June 2). We want to apologise to them, while recognising that this should rightly come from the perpetrators. 

Obviously this is unlikely to happen unless these ignorant people are caught. We condemn their appalling behaviour. They are not representative of the island . 

We love the fact that many Jewish families come to the Isle of Sheppey to enjoy some seaside fun together and hope they will still do so for many summers to come. Please don’t be put off by a few people who have not learnt to respect others. We are deeply sorry this family had to go through this and hope they will recover from this painful experience.

Adrian and Marlies Haselton
Sheerness, Kent

Football pioneer

David Bolchover’s article (Football’s greatest comeback June 2) is a welcome addition chronicling successful Jewish football coaches but I was surprised not to see any reference to Ernö Egri Erbstein. 

Besides being one of the greatest football coaches of his time, Erbstein was an officer in the First World War and he and his family became victims of the Holocaust. In football terms, he was a visionary whose teams went from strength to strength as he mixed motivational tactical planning and shrewd transfer dealings.  With Il Grande Torino he won the Scudetto five times. 

In spite of being a celebrated national manager his reputation was marred by rumours of being a communist spy as detailed in Dominic Bliss’s book Erbstein:

The triumph and tragedy of football’s forgotten pioneer”. Surely Erbstein must rank alongside Béla Guttmann as one of the great pioneers in modern-day football.

Stephen Brownstone
London NW11 

June 09, 2017 17:05

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