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Please, tell us what is proportionate
So the “Clegglet”, leader of the Israel- hating Lib Dems, is unhappy about anti-Semitism and the disproportionate response by Israel to rocket attacks from Gaza (Jewish News, 15 October) . His own party contains enough Jew-hating members and, happily, they will not remain much longer in Parliament. Does he not see, like others who criticise Israel, that their unjustified attacks only help the Jew-haters? Next time anyone complains of “disproportionate response”, can they please be asked: what do they consider proportionate? Should Israel have fired the same proportion of missiles and rockets indiscriminately against Gaza? No, that is not want they require. Instead, they want to see the same number of Jews murdered by the war crime of firing at metropolitan areas as those killed in Gaza. Come on Jewish News. Please be harder on these sanctimonious spokespeople and pin them down so they are forced to explain exactly what they really think.
Evelyn friedlander should have a role
Am I to be excited by the fact that Rabbi Mirvis is to see the rescued Czech scrolls, now that they will be at the Jewish Museum and not at their home, the independent Progressive Westminster Syngaogue, which has dutifully cared for them for decades? He could have come to a moving ceremony earlier this year at Westminster, when scrolls still in use were brought back from synagogues in the UK, Continental Europe and the USA. Sadly he felt unable to set foot in Kent House. His loss, not theirs. The presence of a selection of the community will be a tribute to the work of the Scrolls Trust. But I’d suggest the person opening the occasion should be Evelyn Friedlander, trustee of the scrolls and widow of the late and much-loved Rabbi Albert Friedlander. They were the people who played a major part in the scrolls’ survival.
Man-made global warming is a worry
Dear Sir Kay Bagon (Jewish News, 8 October) claims “humans are responsible for only 3.2 percent of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”, as a reason to doubt we are causing global warming. If it were as easily refuted as that, why is man-made global warming affirmed by 97 percent of published climate scientists, successive chief scientists, the Royal Society and equivalent science academies of all leading economies, as well as famous physicists such as Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking? In fact, measured atmospheric CO2 has risen by 25 percent since 1958, and even more since pre-industrial times. She also claims that scientists “adapt their theories” of global warming to account for extreme weather and “tsunamis”. Exactly which scientists have blamed recent tsunamis on global warming, then? Rabbi Paul Freedman had been highlighting the alarming proportion of Conservative MPs unconvinced of man-made global warming. Worse still, it is UKIP policy to ban the teaching of it in schools. Thankfully, UKIP don’t seem to be attracting many Jewish voters.
- Prejudiced charedi: set up on your own
Dear Sir Letter writer Martin Stern identifies the problem of accommodating Orthodox men who fly El Al but don’t wish to sit next to women (Jewish News, 8 October). Presumably any self-respecting Charedi man would rather sit next to a skinhead reading Playboy than an impeccably dressed woman of 90 reading the Jewish Tribune? Mr Stern suggests that the solution is segregated seating, for which he deserves congratulations for two reasons. First, he clearly has the interests of women at heart, wishing to separate them from a class of men to whom a woman’s mere proximity would ignite a paroxysm of lust. Second, Mr Stern commendably advocates freedom of choice for the customer, which he would surely extend to all passengers. Thus, anyone should be able to book a seat that was not adjacent to a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian or (and this clinches it for me) Martin Stern himself. In case El Al rejects Mr Stern’s idea, I have a counter-proposal. Why don’t the Charadim set up their own airline, which would allow them to exercise all their antediluvian practices, prejudices and superstitions without bothering the majority of us who don’t mind whom they sit next to?
- We jews shouldn’t blur anti-semitism
I presume that Richard Millett (Jewish News, 8 October) is not the only Jew who absurdly believes that the “anti-Semitism” we are suffering today is caused by the hatred of Jews rather than the political decisions taken by them. While a Jew cannot relinquish his Judaism, he certainly can choose if he wants to be a Zionist. For the past few decades, the majority of attacks against Jews indisputably originate from the existence of Israel and the political Zionist ideology most Jews have chosen to believe in. Calling the recent wave of attacks “anti-Semitism” when they were perpetrated in response to the actions of the Zionist government is an appalling distortion. People such as Mr Millett happily accuse those who blur the distinction between Jews, Zionists and Israel of “anti-Semitism” (eg MP David Ward referring to Israelis as “the Jews” and Sainsbury’s removal of kosher food to protect it from anti-Israel protestors), but are quite content to fuse all three things together when it can elicit sympathy for Jews and their widespread support for Zionism. Would Mr Millett call the politically motivated assassination of Jacob De-Haan by the Haganah an anti-Semitic attack? Of course not. Mr Millett should concede that those who sympathise with the Palestinians and attack those who sympathise with Israel are not anti-Semitic. That such attacks involve manifestations of anti-Semitism has more to do with so many Jews choosing to associate themselves with a political institution than the religion to which they belong.
- Liberal view on hamas is terribly misguided
Your special report on 15 October introduces us to the president of the New Israel Fund, Talia Sasson, who visited London to criticise the Israeli government and its policies. She says Israel has it wrong on Hamas, calling the Gaza Strip an open prison which is breeding tomorrow’s terrorism. But she forgot to mention Hamas kills its own people, demands a caliphate Sharia state across Israel and death to all the Jews. Why does she and the left not get it? A recent poll shows 79 percent of Israelis are against a two-state solution if it means dividing Jerusalem and giving up the Jordan Valley. She also criticises Israel over the way it treats Palestinians in general. No other country in history sends flyers, texts and maps telling the people of its enemy to get out of the area. Indeed, the daughter of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was allowed to be treated in an Israeli hospital. I am proud of how Israel is the only Middle East country that treats Palestinians with respect and dignity. But the left needs to wake up to the reality that with Hezbollah and Al Nusra in the north, ISIS cells inside Jordan, Hamas to the west and radical Salafists in the Sinai, there is not going to be a two-state solution.
- Going backwards …and forwards
In a recent Desert Island Texts column, Lucian Hudson asserts that accepting our “just desserts” (I quote precisely) is itself liberating. He then continues to note that “desserts” is “stressed” spelt backwards. However, “desserts” in this phrase is spelt with only one ‘s’! Its etymological origin is actually the French “deservir” – one gets what one deserves.
- Help Give housebound The shabbat feeling
The entire community embraced last weeken’s Shabbat UK – especially The Great Challah Bake in Hendon. I would like to remind readers that there are many incapacitated people who wistfully look at their front door every Friday morning knowing that they can no longer go out to buy a challah, but that they still have that special Shabbat feeling. I would like to suggest ‘challahs for the housebound’ as a follow-on from Shabbat UK. If you know someone who can’t get out and buy his or her own challah, perhaps you can drop one off. Lots of people do a challah run with their neighbour as part of the school run. Let me say it’s not about paying for someone else’s challah. Housebound folk, many of whom are elderly, have pride and dignity and want to get the money ready so as not to hold you up, and they certainly don’t want a free challah from you. A quick exchange of money for a fresh challah and a speedy “Shabbat Shalom” would do more for the morale for people stuck at home who very much miss the social interaction and going out and about that they did when they were actively involved in their communities. If you don’t have time to drop off a challah, just saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ even over the phone to people who probably wouldn’t hear those words for months on end would really brighten their day. I think this is a much more vibrant interactive option, which would make a person feel worthwhile, more so than the annual honey cake dropped off by the shul. Please think about this and what a difference it would make if you are able to pick up a challah (and even the Jewish News) for people who cannot get out on their own.
- Masorti gay marriages a ‘blasphemous farce’
The brazenness of Rabbi Wittenberg beggars belief (Jewish News, 23 October). Can he really believe that the vote of his Masorti organisation to recognise gay marriage – which he endorses and grandiosely proclaims historic – does not oppose the code of the timeless Torah? It is significant that this was reported in the very week that we read in the sedra about the flood which occurred because “man debauched his way”. In last weeks sedra, moreover, the prohibition of homosexuality for all humanity [“and he shall cleave to his wife”] is unequivocaly set out. By sanctioning the trappings of “kosher style”ritual to celebrate the proscribed act he perpetrates a blasphemous farce. The function of a rabbi is to teach torah, not breach it. Geoffrey Niman By email