Our weekly Readers’ Letters page, now published online and in print
- Would Moses have backed two states?
The problem with Brian Gordon’s assertion that “events unfolding are part of a greater master plan” (Jewish News, 14 August) is it enables him to deny any possibility Palestinians have been unjustly treated. After all, if it is the will of Hashem, who are we to argue?
History is filled with examples of religious people who believed knowing the mind of God entitled them to disregard the rights of people of different persuasions. The ISIS fanatics are just the latest manifestation, but Jews are not immune. Indeed, there are examples in Tanach where these sentiments are encouraged.
However, the Tanach also commands us to ‘love the stranger’. Admittedly, this is difficult when he is bombarding you with rockets. Nevertheless, the tragedy of Israel/Palestine is that both peoples have rights and entitlements and simply holding a military advantage is no guarantee that we enjoy a monopoly of justice.
It’s unlikely Moses would have endorsed a ‘two-state solution’. However, being prepared to discuss it while keeping our powder dry might turn out to be a rational solution even we have to wait for Moshiach to find out who was right!
Thank you Brian for expressing your opinion so passionately. Unfortunately, some of your Conservative colleagues on Barnet Council may not be so impressed by your grasp of facts when, referring to world opinion, you write: “It was acceptable for Western countries to annihilate hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan after 9/11.”
Which al-Qaeda manual did you get that from?
Lawrence Cohen, By email
- A very illuminating tale of two rallies
Interesting article by Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (Jewish News, 31 July) on anti-Semitism, but he glaringly omits Hamas and its rockets and blames Israel’s government for the latest conflict.
He is offended by a placard stating: ‘The Jewish people never send suicide bombers to London or behead a British soldier.“ Dr Shafi, it’s true. We saw many banners of hate at the pro-Palestinian rally, some reading: ‘Hitler was right’, and other hateful comments and chants. In contrast, at the pro-Israel rally the following day, we sang songs and waved banners calling for peace.
There is no doubt the rise in anti-Semitism here and in Europe has grown with the growth of the Muslim population. I wish Dr Shafi well in his efforts to combat that and Islamophobia and hope the differences we have are not imported into this country, which has given many of our people refuge and safety.
Sidney Sands, N12
- Be clear: Miliband is no friend to us
I read in Jewish News from time to time how Ed Miliband is a friend to Israel. Let’s be honest – he is no such thing.
In an article headlined Miliband opens fire on PM over Israel,The Sunday Times of 3 August writes: “He describes himself as Jewish”. Yes, he is a Jew by birth, but his behaviour is not Jewish. Eating a bacon sandwich in public is not exactly the Jewish way.
But what can we expect from a person who has been raised by a mother who is a long-standing supporter of left-wing pro-Palestinian organisations and a signatory to the founding statements of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and a supporter of Independent Jewish Voices?
By that, he joins the line of anti-Zionist British Jews like Edwin Montagu, Claude Montefiore and others, who tried to prevent the signing of the Balfour Declaration as they were worried their political status might be threatened and stamp them as Jews as strangers in their native country, England.
I quote: “Can the leopard change its spots (Jeremiah 13, 23)?
Those who destroy you and those who lay you waste shall go forth from you (Isaiah 49, 17).
A Redeemer will come to Zion (Isaiah 59, 20)”.
D. Ben-Zvi, SW9
- Eyes on election, not Israel’s plight
We should not wonder why Ed Miliband voiced his opposition to Israel’s response to the rockets rained down by Hamas.
As Henry Kissinger said: “There are no friends in politics, only interests.” Miliband’s eyes are focused on the general election next year in the UK.
Paymaster of the Labour movement is Unite, the largest union in Britain, which gave Miliband its maximum backing for the leadership of the Labour Party.
Unite has voted unanimously to boycott, divest and sanction Israel.
Miliband knows by whom his bread is buttered if he is to stand a chance to become prime minister of Britain, and he will not disunite himself to threaten that ambition.
Leila Cumber, Hendon
- Has UJIA really changed focus?
I refer to the story in the Pulse community section of Jewish News on ‘A Wonderful Braai’, which was, apparently, held for the benefit of the South African community in London and sponsored by UJIA.
I was puzzled by this as I was under the impression the UJIA’s main purpose is to fund projects in Israel. I would be interested to know whether it has changed its focus, which would surprise me.
According to the caption, the event marked the launch of UJIA’s engagement with the South African community. Does this mean South Africans here in London need financial support? Again I find this surprising.
Taking it further, there are large Israeli and American ex-pat communities in London – could they also benefit from the UJIA? I would be grateful If anyone can answer these questions.
Matt Suher, Stanmore
- Hebrew in school: the real story
I refer to your article on Michael Gove’s departure from the cabinet in which, I would suggest, there was some rewriting of history (Jewish News, 24 July).
You claimed: “Under his leadership, plans many feared would make it nigh-impossible to find time to teach Hebrew in primary schools were scrapped’.
The list of prescribed languages to be taught in primary schools, which excluded Hebrew, was a Gove initiative in the context of his extensive changes to the national curriculum.
It was only as a result of a concerted effort over about four months by the Partnership for Jewish Schools and the Board of Deputies that the threat to the teaching of Hebrew in our Jewish schools was averted.
Susy Stone, Headteacher
- Limited ability of Baroness Warsi
Once again Israel and the Jews have been used as scapegoats for the failings of others. I refer to the resignation of Baroness Warsi, who claimed her action was in protest at David Cameron’s lack of condemnation of Israel’s defensive action.
Political pundits, who are well informed, have more than hinted this was really in revenge for her lack of promotion during the recent reshuffle. Her own limited ability filling a created office has proven a farce.
Can you imagine what would have happened if, as was rumoured to be her hope, she were given the Foreign Office? William Hague was never sympathetic to Israel and I am sure she would be antagonistic to say the least.
Cameron should learn the lesson that tokenism and being patronising should not replace ability. Time and again, his judgment of his colleagues’ intellect has been a disaster, not only for him but the country.
Martin Greenberg, Redbridge
- My letters to the media about Gaza
As readers will be aware, I have been writing to the press for many years.
From time to time and, especially in the light of recent events in Gaza, several people have asked me why I bother writing to the Jewish press when there is a much greater need to present Israel’s position in the general non-Jewish media.
My reply has been that I do but, unfortunately it is, in my experience, virtually impossible to get such views published in the national press, either in the UK or Ireland.
Some papers are fairly broad-minded and publish letters reflecting both sides of the debate, but others seem to have a much more agenda-based policy and publish few, if any, in support of Israel.
During the current crisis, I have written, among others, to: The Guardian – 6 letters, 0 printed The Independent – 8 letters, 1 printed The Irish Times – 7 letters, 0 printed The Irish Independent – 5 letters, 1 printed. I would not be surprised if others have fared similarly.
Many newspapers seem to have the policy of only printing anti-Israel letters, with the only exception an occasional one from an [Israeli] embassy spokesman. This creates the impression that ‘ordinary readers’ are all against Israel and its only supporters are those ‘paid to lie abroad for their country’.
Also, it gives pro-Palestinians the opportunity to write against them. While one cannot infer that this is the editor’s intention, it certainly appears to be so. As many people have asked me what I have written, and not had published, I have listed the ones to the Irish Times of Dublin, one of the most pro-Palestinian publication whose letters column is filled daily with innumerable letters, many of which make highly tendentious statements implying Israel’s deliberate “murder of innocent women and children” and similar libels.
Though I have tried to challenge some of these, none of my efforts have managed to get past the editor’s selection process.
Martin Stern, Salford
- It’s do-do-do-do… not do-do-do!
Your recent Simcha supplement referred to a Chic song lyric as ‘Everybody dance, do-do-do, Clap your hands…’. For the record, four ‘do’ notes can clearly be heard at each refrain. In the 2012 BBC film Nile Rodgers: The Hitmaker, Rodgers, the song’s co-writer, repeatedly states it is ‘do-do-do-do’.
James Levy, Golders Green
- My poem about what is happening in Gaza
I have composed a poem on the current situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip,that I’d like to share with readers…
“Israel is once again under attack from Hamas, not the Palestinians who live in Gaza.
Hamas’ aggression causes injuries and deaths to civilians, don’t believe their propaganda.
The truth is that Israel is battling to prevent her extinction, as a homeland for the Jews. One built upon Western-style values and a democratic tradition, this should be the headline news.
In place of Israel, Hamas seeks militarily to establish a Muslim state. Is this what the world wants? If not, then compel Hamas to cease all hostilities before it’s too late, and fully back Israel’s response.
The ideology of all extremist, Islamic terrorist organisations, not just Hamas, don’t threaten only Israel. But any country embracing different faiths and basic human rights, so alas, they could sound your death knell.
Wake up all nation states; these terrorist groups know no boundaries and are definitely rife. Across the world, intent on installing regimes in line with their decrees, at stake is our whole way of life.”
J D Milaric, By email
- So maybe Facebook should be censored
I was recently made aware of a Facebook page called ‘Death to Israel’. I decided to report the page as Facebook provides the option to do so. I would think that a page entitled ‘Death to…’ should speak for itself and a complaint against it upheld.
However, lo and behold, Facebook replied a day later stating: “We reviewed the page you reported for containing hate speech or symbols and found that it doesn’t violate our Community Standards.”
Naturally, I found that odd. Let’s face it, if someone was walking down the street carrying a plaque saying: “Death to Israel”, and was reported to the police for inciting hatred, he is likely to get his collar felt at the very least.
I’m not surprised cyberbulling takes place on Facebook. It seems unable to police itself and does not have people you can speak to who are accountable.
I don’t believe in censorship, but if Facebook can’t police itself honestly, maybe it is time for our Government to step in.
Joseph Benaiah, Kingsbury
- Ok students, time to hand in your mobile
Dear Sir So the National Union of Students voted to adopt an anti-Israel boycott.
Fine. Let them go the whole hog and immediately hand in their mobile phones and computers which use Israeli chips. If they don’t comply, they are a bunch of hypocrites.
Maureen Shapiro, Ilford