JPR report does us a disservice

Your article on the Institute Jewish Policy Research’s latest research on anti-Semitism, quoted several statistical estimates (Jewish News, 14 September).

Unfortunately, these all understate the extent of anti-Semitism, because the definition of anti-Semitism in the report excludes all Israel-based examples – unlike the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition, which is accepted by the government. Take one estimate quoted in your report: “The existence of strong, sophisticated, perhaps internally coherent and at times even ‘learned’ anti-Semitism… does not exceed 2.4 percent of British adults.”

If one includes Israel-based anti-Semitism data, the correct figure is five times as big, at 12 percent. Notably, the report underestimates the prevalence of anti-Semitism on the left. It says: “All political groups on the left are no more anti-Semitic than the general population.”

But the data in the report show that the proportion of the “very left-wing” holding at least one anti-Israel attitude (seven out of eight of which are anti-Semitic) is around 78-79 percent, way above that for the general population (47 percent).

This report does a vast disservice to the Jewish community and is an open goal for the Corbynite far left, where anti-Semitism is concentrated. It should be pulped and rewritten.

Jonathan Hoffman, By email

Let’s celebrate Kurdish aspirations

On Monday, the Iraqi Kurds held a historic referendum that will almost certainly result in an overwhelming endorsement for political independence. There are several reasons why we should celebrate their aspirations.

Jews and Kurds have ties that go back many centuries and both have suffered long periods of statelessness and persecution. For decades, they have also had shared enemies, especially the regime of Saddam Hussein, which butchered thousands of Kurds in the 1980s.

The resurgence of this beleaguered minority in an otherwise hostile region would be truly inspiring for all the region’s minorities.

An independent Kurdistan would be a setback for Iran, which seeks a contiguous arc of influence stretching from Tehran to the Levant.

For this reason, Israel has a geo-political interest in a powerful Kurdish state. There are obstacles to the achievement of independence, not least from Iraq, which fears Kurdish secession will threaten its territorial integrity and Turkey, which is worried about its own Kurdish population.

Nonetheless, in the year when we celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, let us also be hopeful for the future renaissance of the Kurds.

Jeremy Havardi, B’nai B’rith UK

We are here to help

I would like to comment upon the various articles recently published by Jewish News on the subject of mental illness.

Since the beginning of time humans have suffered from mental illness in some form or another, including Hippocrates to Sigmund Freud with their own interpretation of melancholia.

However, the Torah describes various individuals being (plagued) with mental health issues, none more so than King Saul, whom young David Hamelech would soothe with his sweet-sounding melodies.

Today there are many organisations and individuals who work within the arena of mental health and the ‘stigma’ of those who suffer this plight is being vastly reduced every year.

The NHS is very well equipped to deal with the myriad of issues that can arise, whether this be within a primary or indeed secondary care setting, as well as wonderfully empathetic private organisations and charities that are at hand.

It is in fact stated within the Shulchan Aruch that it is a great mitzvah to relieve the mentally distressed and comfort the bereaved, but those souls who are afflicted really do need to recognise that they require support and psychological assistance and must seek us out and commit to the programme.

For those who have found the emunah (faith) to come to therapy, the results have been worthy of that journey, which has increased their gevurah (power) to cope.

We are here as empathetic and non-judgmental therapists, so do
seek us out if you feel troubled by the afflictions of our historical
monarchy.

Nasanel J Black, NHS counsellor

Clarification on ‘Knit and natter’

Regarding the Blanket Bonanza story in Scene (Jewish News, 31 August), I’d like to point out that although tenants of Jewish Blind and Disabled live at Milne Court, the Knit and Natter afternoons are organised by two members of the Chigwell and Hainault League of Jewish Women. 

Sanara Ziles and Evelyn Camp organise a weekly tea and were recently given an unexpected treat as they were presented with certificates for all their good work. 

The blankets are now only donated to AGE UK, as WJR is no longer able to send them to Eastern Europe owing to the trucks being blocked.

Chigwell & Hainault League of Jewish Women also knit hats for Israeli soldiers, and many other projects.

Rosalind Greenberg, Chigwell & Hainault League of Jewish Women

Israelis’ everyday optimism

There are so many critics of Israel, so praise must be given when praise is due about the sheer optimism of our people.    

As someone who frequents Israel for a large part of the year, I regularly witness with great admiration the resilience and perspicacity of the country’s people.

Although living in uncertain times, never knowing what the day may bring in terms of attacks, the attitude is one of hope and joy.

My husband and I experience daily an extraordinary amount of kindness from strangers.

The sheer joy of living in Israel is self-evident, and the persistence and optimism of our people shines through.

Flora Frank, By email