LettersOur weekly Readers’ Letters page, now published online and in print

  • Should step aside

Dear Sir

At what point will the Board of Deputies lose its status as representing British Jewry?

It is quite extraordinary how it lurches from one calamity to another. We have suffered the inactivity and lack of leadership over the past few weeks while rabid anti-Semitism has been growing. If ever we needed the Board’s leadership, the time is now.

The swelling protest of people looking to the leaders resulted in the hastily arranged ‘Town Hall meeting’ – the first Jewish meeting I‘ve been to that ended early. More than an hour of the one hour 50 minutes was wasted by speakers saying how well they were doing and pretending we were there to show support for Israel rather than to express our criticism of the woeful leadership.

Guillotined speeches by some in the hall were responded to (I nearly said ‘answered’ but that would be the wrong word) in batches. Promises were made of a rally. It hasn’t happened. When is it? Where is it?

Look at the turnout for the Campaign Against Antisemitism; thousands of people united; no budget, no professionals just determination. They did it, the Board hasn’t. The lack of leadership has resulted in hundreds of groups forming.

It is time to co-ordinate their actions. The Board of Deputies has gone from doing nothing to doing damage. The latest joint statement with the Muslim Council of Britain surpasses all else.

Sadly, I now realise that having seen the Board’s actions, its inactivity was actually better. For the sake of the Jewish community, Mr Wineman, you and your colleagues should do the honourable thing and resign.

It is time for a representative body to represent. Step aside and let’s have action.

Mark Lewis, WC2

  • Mensch and the rise in anti-Semitism

Dear Sir

There was great irony in the full-page article by Louise Mensch about the need to combat the increasing anti-Semitism resulting from the Gaza conflict (Jewish News, 21 August).

Anyone with half a brain knows the current increase in anti-Semitism is the direct result of the hysterical anti-Israel media and political narrative of the Gaza conflict and, in particular, the repetition of the Hamas propaganda and blood libel that Israel is deliberately killing hundreds of Palestinian children.

Indeed, the picture Jewish News used in Mensch’s article to illustrate the anti-Semitism is of a screaming mob holding placards that state this very libel. The irony is Mensch not only regurgitates it in the article, but makes it clear she believes Israel has no right of self-defence other than to use the Iron Dome.

She says: “I do not support the Israeli action in Gaza. Let’s get that out of the way. There is not much prospect of convincing any readers here, so I don’t propose to try. (Iron Dome already kept Israel safe and defended and there are better ways to punish for rockets than killing hundreds of children). Rather I want to concentrate on the revolting stream of anti-Semitism the Gaza war has unleashed.”

Mensch has made quite a name for herself in the past few weeks by writing a stream of hysterical anti-Israel pieces (such as the one mentioned) along these lines.

Any attempt to stop the current wave of anti-Semitism that fails to address the blood libels is doomed to fail. Anyone who says “this has nothing to do with Israel” is not helping.

It is also why people who say Jews should not be punished for what Israel is doing are actually part of the problem. Any attempt to stop the anti-Semitism by bringing on board those who actually propagate the blood libel will lead to increased anti-Semitism.

That is why it was so wrong of the Board of Deputies to issue its joint statement with the Muslim Council of Britain and why it was wrong for Jewish News to give a full page to Louise Mensch.

Edgar Davidson, by email

  • Liberal left unable to face realities

Dear Sir

It’s not so long ago that Rabbi Miriam Berger in her attack on Pamela Geller was berating us for not understanding the true peaceful philosophy of jihad. Such a shame she didn’t have the opportunity to explain this to the Christians and Yazidis and other Muslims before they were beheaded or shot.

Now she’s at it again. Showing all the tolerance for which the liberal left is renowned, she pours scorn on those of us who were offended by the DEC advert which appeared in the Jewish Chronicle.

In doing so, she displays a complete lack of understanding of why people were outraged. Was she not aware – or did she not care – that many of the charities featured in the ad (eg Oxfam and Islamic Relief to name but two) have proven anti-Israel political agendas?

Does she not know – or care – that some of the monies gathered by these charities will be used to further these objectives? Is she not aware – or does she not care – that many people object to being asked to fund the anti-Israel propaganda spouted by these groups?

She could answer these questions. She also claims to have heard among those objecting to the ad the voices of people rejoicing and singing at Gaza’s destruction.

Perhaps the good rabbi could provide substantiation for this allegation, because I have heard nothing but compassion for the citizens of Gaza who have suffered as a result of actions taken by their democratically-elected government.

It seems Rabbi Berger embraces the ‘if-we’re-nice-to-them-they’ll-learn-to-love-us-and-stop-trying-to-kill-us’ philosophy. She implies that our failure to respond to this charity appeal will help breed the next generation of rocket launchers and suicide bombers.

I have news for her. This next generation has already been bred in UNRWA schools and on PA television – funded in part by our taxes ­– where hatred of the Jews and Israel is taught and where killing Jews and Israelis is glorified.

If Rabbi Berger is really concerned about building bridges towards peace, perhaps she and her fellow travellers might focus their efforts and energies on persuading Hamas that its objectives – ie the total destruction of Israel and death of all Jews worldwide as stated in its charter – are incompatible with liberal and humanitarian values.

Somehow I don’t see this happening. Much easier to sit in ivory towers in London, think high-minded thoughts, wallow in the self-satisfaction of doing so and castigate those in touch with the real world who don’t buy into their fantasy philosophy.

Clive Hyman, N3

  • UJIA’s work helps in so many ways

Dear Sir

Matt Suher asked about the focus of UJIA (Jewish News, 28 August). UJIA continues to support the people of Israel, mainly in the disadvantaged Galil, but also elsewhere when there is the need.

For example, during the recent war, we raised £211,000 for hot meals and respite activities for children in southern Israel. We also continue to be the key backer of informal Jewish and Israel education for young people in the UK, helping to secure a passionate and committed future community.

We support 12 Zionist youth movements, as well as activities in mainstream schools and on campus. This summer, together with our partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel, we pulled out all the stops to ensure that 1,400 young people could safely experience Israel on life-changing educational programmes, namely Israel Tour and UJIA Birthright.

In recent months, we have launched groups aimed at the South African, American and French Jewish communities in London, to engage them with our vital work and to fundraise so that we can continue these programmes and projects.

Michael Wegier, UJIA Chief Executive

  • Ice challenge ‘a form of bullying’

Dear Sir

Although the ice-bucket challenge is presented as only a bit of fun and has undoubtedly raised a considerable sum for charity, it is ultimately a form of bullying.

There are many good reasons why a nominee/victim might be unwilling to participate and I hope community leaders will reconsider their position.

Keith Gordon, WC1