The JC Letters Page March 31 2017

Arthur Oppenheimer, Alastair Falk, Jeffrey Nakar, George Donath, Stanley Jacobs, Tony de Swarte and Avril Milner share their views with JC readers

April 01, 2017 13:27

Make Lord Dubs our memorial

Both Baroness Deech (JC March 10) and Stephen Games (March 24) raise significant issues about the advisability and lack of public debate connected with the proposed Holocaust Memorial.

If the area of Westminster is extended to cover Whitehall and St James Park then there are currently over 185 statues and memorials in this area. There may in fact now be 186 as another memorial to honour those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan was unveiled this month in Victoria Palace Gardens.

Most regretfully, memorials to the Shoah do not seem to prevent genocide and holocaust education has not stopped prejudice or anti-Semitism. 

Perhaps a longer lasting and more effective memorial would be to extend the work of Lord Alfred Dubs and persuade our government to allow unaccompanied destitute refugee children to be offered safe refuge in the UK and give free entry and supported education until the age of 21 for (say) 250 children annually. 

These children could be allowed entry under a special ‘Holocaust Memorial Visa’ – surely a more fitting living tribute than a monument in concrete, glass or brick – however well designed.

Arthur Oppenheimer, Hove BN3

Never changing story

It is somewhat ironic that despite our stringent Passover avoidance of foods that rise, the price of Pesach food itself never dips. Whether the pound is weak or strong, inflation low or high, in every generation , it seems, Pesach prices are always higher than the year before. Indeed, Jewish tradition has it that the Messianic era will truly be here only when the JC carries two weeks of consecutive headlines  : 'Pesach prices crash ' and 'JFS welcomes the idea of a new school.'

Alastair Falk, London NW4

Home did not fail

I want to express our disappointment at the headline in last week’s JC about the Rubens House CQC report. The headline implied the home had failed an inspection. This is not the case. The regulators determined that the home requires improvement. This means we need to make changes to secure a good rating. We have already actioned a plan to ensure the necessary changes are made to secure a good, or better still outstanding, CQC rating.

Simon Morris, Chief Executive, Jewish Care

Read a fuller response from Simon here

Our Father age 101 recently passed away in Rubens House Jewish care home.

The wonderful attention he received from the carers and management staff was exemplary. Without these carers his last few months would not have been as meaningful and fulfilling as it was.

It was just amazing how they all got on like one big happy family.

Two of the carers on their day off even made the schlap to Rainham for his funeral.

We will always be thankful to Jewish care for providing the warmth and care to all its residents.

Tony de Swarte and Avril Milner, Elstree, Herts

Sensitive side

I do not understand why Ken Livingstone is making so much fuss just because somebody exercised his right to freedom of speech and called him an antisemite.

Surely he is being much too sensitive, after all, it is just banter.

Of course, the whole thing may simply be a Labour Party plot to silence legitimate criticism of antisemites.

Jeffrey Nakar, Surrey KT5

“Kasztner’s Crime”

I was most interested to read in Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky’s comments (your issue 13/1/2017) on Paul Bogdanor’s “Kasztner’s Crime” that Dr Pinto was saved by Kasztner from the Budakalasz Brick Factory. I was similarly saved from the same place, for which I am still grateful, the only difference being that whilst he was just a year old I was, and am, some 14 years his senior and do have vivid recollections of those fateful months. He quotes a definite number of rescued which I did not have and would very much appreciate learning the origin of that figure and any other detail he may have.

Mr Bogdanor in his most biased publication does mention “a few hundred” souls in the Columbus Street Camp, where we ended up.  We were the last group to arrive and found hundreds already there rescued by Kasztner from other provincial centres. Mr Bogdanor in his book does not state how and from where these hundreds got there. This may well be because he is unable to find an argument to gainsay Kasztner’s merit in achieving this further rescue. Clearly if he is not aware of the details this could be an opportunity for original unbiased research which, though advertised, is absent from his work.

In connection with the claim for an original open mind it would be interesting to know how this can be reconciled with Mr Bogdanor’s adverse remarks about Gaylen Ross’s film, praising Kasztner, from 2009 on.

George Donath, London SW1

Best for the Jews?

I am somewhat puzzled by Mr Yehuda Bauer’s assertions that “Antisemitism grows in monotheistic societies only…and Jews can live peacefully only in relatively liberal societies.” (JC March 24).  The realities are surely more complex.  

Modern liberal societies still have predominantly monotheistic religions and cultures.  And is it correct that polytheistic societies have been more tolerant to Jews? Certainly some have, but these have had minuscule Jewish populations relative to the indigenous ones, for example, of China and India, while the polytheistic societies of ancient Persia, Greece and Rome were hardly benign landlords of Judea. In addition, how “liberal” were these polytheisms to the enslavement of their own and other peoples?  

As to Western liberal societies "striving towards democracy” they festered some of the most persistent antisemitism in Jewish history. While, to the contrary, the middle period in monotheistic Islamic history gave the Jews, albeit as second class citizens, great security and unrivalled opportunities for the period.

Ironically, while Western liberal democratic societies were agonising how to keep as many Jews out of their countries as possible, totalitarian Japan, for its own reasons, was making the strongest proposals to welcome Jewish refugees in from Nazi Germany. They protected their own Jews, with crucial help from their Chief Rabbi, from Nazi demands for their extermination.  But in today’s liberal democratic Japan we find a surprising amount of antisemitic literature.

Despite its many blemishes it has been the slow growth in tolerance of an inclusive Anglo-Saxon monotheism that has given the greatest freedom to Jewish life. The Hebrew Bible has long punctuated its history, from King Alfred, to the Magna Carta, to the Protestant Revolution, to the re-entry of Jews in Cromwell's England, and to the “new Israelites” sailing out to the "new Promised Land" of the nascent USA

Stanley Jacobs, London SW1

April 01, 2017 13:27

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