Jewish leadership must speak up more on Israel
One word glaringly absent from Jonathan Goldstein’s article in The Sunday Times on 1 October was “Israel”. Yet that’s the hook Jeremy Corbyn and his cronies use to couch their underlying anti-Semitism.
Only when the leadership of British Jewry states universally and unequivocally that singling out Israel for criticism equals anti-Semitism will things start to change.
Otherwise articles like this, which neatly avoid using the “I” word, only help to fan the flames. They support the notion that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are disconnected and by doing so enable anti-Semites to perpetrate the former under the guise of the latter.
It’s obvious. It’s certainly clear for Jewish students on campus or any of us who has ever witnessed a pro-Palestinian demonstration.
I fail to understand why Jewish leadership in the UK finds it so difficult to speak resolutely on behalf of its connection to the world’s only Jewish homeland – a thriving
economic, multicultural, multi-ethnic, liberal democracy.
The non-Jewish world will respect us more if we show more respect for ourselves.
Jacob Lyons, By email
Rejigged definition is absurd
You report that “Brent Council has voted to adopt an extended definition of anti-Semitism that includes Israel criticism” (jewishnews.co.uk, 19 September).
First, this is not correct. The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism states that mere criticism is not anti-Semitic (as is obvious).
Second, the rejigged definition passed is an absurdity. For example, in Brent it is now only ‘sometimes’ anti-Semitic to justify the killing of Jews in the name of a radical ideology. I called Councillor Shafique Choudhary (the Labour proposer of the amendment) to find out when I should avoid entering the borough. He wasn’t able to say. Maybe as a service to the Jewish community the council will publish the blackout days on its website?
The councillors also inserted a completely irrelevant phrase about a Palestinian state into their faux definition.
You note that the director of public affairs at the Board of Deputies called the vote “a tribute to the commitment of Brent to come together to supporting all of its communities”. Seriously?
Jonathan Hoffman, By email
‘Fundamentalist views’ not imposed
You report that the Jewish Life Advocacy Centre ‘is arguing that the rabbinical courts have no legal authority to investigate or reject an Israeli citizen’s Jewish status, especially since the state has already recognised it” [jewishnews.co.uk, 18 September].
Presumably this refers primarily to immigrants from the former Soviet Union who came under the terms of the Law of Return, which only required them to have at least one Jewish grandparent.
While its director, Rabbi Seth Farber, may be correct that “one must take at their word a person who says they are Jewish”, this only applies if there is no reason to be suspicious. There is so large a proportion of these recent immigrants whose maternal grandmother was not Jewish that the rabbinic courts are forced to check all of them.
If this is so, the courts cannot perform their marriages since they are not halachically Jewish. They can, of course, convert, but most are unwilling to take on mitzvah observance, so this is usually not an option. In view of these facts, it isn’t true that “a small group is imposing its fundamentalist views on the Israeli immigrant population”.
Martin D. Stern, Salford
End perversity of rabbis and their ‘inclusive’ ketubot
The disgusting perversity of the ineptly-styled ‘rabbi’ displaying his ‘inclusive ketubah’ as if he were launching a new brand of kosher pork sausages is explicitly addressed by the Talmud Chulin: ‘Ulla says these are the 30 commandments which the sons of Noah accepted, of which they only keep three – they don’t write a ketubah for males.. etc’ [Jewish News, 28 September].
Can there be any doubt about the direction such misleaders are following?
Geoffrey Niman, Stamford Hill
We are not scared!
In relation to recent reports and statistics on anti-Semitism in Great Britain, let’s be quite clear. The vast majority of us are not fearful of anti-Semitism. Rather we confront it. We do not run away. We are not intimidated by anti-Semites. We have never, and will never, feel unwelcome in Great Britain owing to being Jewish.
Harry Levy, Pinner