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The right words in the wrong order
Reading recent newspaper columns and listening to discussions on the Israeli government’s bill which sets out to confirm Israel as a Jewish state governed by democratic principles has been truly painful. The debate has become twisted into so many knots it becomes impossible to unravel. First, it is agreed everyone, with the exception of its enemies, accepts Israel is the nation state of the Jews. Yet if the Israeli government seeks to confirm this many, including diaspora Jews, find it unacceptable. Pardon? They go on to say that Israel has a de facto constitution, but a legally affirmed constitution is unacceptable. Sorry? Israel’s Declaration of Independence affirmed Israel as Jewish and democratic.
As Eric Morecambe might say: “The right words but not necessarily in the right order.” Nobody has suggested it is necessary to place “Jewish” before “democratic”, or “democratic” before “Jewish”. Or in any order of importance. Why? The answer is simple. Judaism is a religion – democracy is a form of government (or, if you like, management). The suggestion that an individual, or nation, cannot practice a religion (any religion) and a democratic form of government (or management), is patently absurd. So, why all the fuss about Israel? After all, assuming that at some stage the Palestinians and Arab nations will declare they are no longer at war with Israel – and an independent Palestinian State is negotiated and formed, is there any doubt that it will be a Muslim State, with not a peep out of anyone about it being democratic?
Common sense Must prevail in schools
Dear Sir Letter writer Martin Stern asks a number of questions about how OFSTED tries to instill British values in schools. Anglo-Jews wholeheartedly support values such as fair play, tolerance and respect for those who differ from us. Our schools take as basic starting points that man is created in God’s image, that ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’, and in Hillel’s words: ‘What you would not want others to do to you, do not do to others’.
Jewish schools should not be required to teach about the Eucharist and trans-substantiation. In The Telegraph of 19 November there was a report that a countryside primary school in Lincolnshire was downgraded ‘for effectively being too English’. There appear to be too many white faces and not enough blacks and Asians. British society in the 21st century must be multi-ethnic and multi-racial, even if very few blacks or Asians live in the school’s rural catchment area. All British schools should stress British values, but there must also be an element of common sense and discussions within the teaching profession to get it right.
Was liddle right about Wheatley?
I enjoyed last week’s column by Rod Liddle on anti-Semitism and football (Opinion, 4 December). It was a good piece, but I’m not sure he is entirely correct about his negative references to author Dennis Wheatley. It’s many years since I read a Wheatley thriller, but my recollection is that he had some sympathetic Jewish characters. Checking the Wikipedia entry on Wheatley, I find this: “His work is fairly typical of his class and era… His main characters are all supporters of Royalty, Empire and the class system… His strong attachment to personal liberty also informs much of his work. This, as well as a sympathetic attitude toward Jews (as shown in the ‘Simon Aron’ character introduced in Three Inquisitive People) caused him to criticise the Nazi system mercilessly, in those Gregory Sallust thrillers set during World War II”.
Reminder about MP Diane Abbott’s views
I notice Diane Abbott MP is putting herself forward as the Labour candidate for London Mayor. I would like to remind the community of the stance she took during the conflict between Israel and Hamas [the terrorist organisation of Gaza] this summer. I think the community will respond to her quest by ensuring she does not receive our vote since she clearly does not speak on behalf of the Jewish community in London. I will certainly not vote for her and hope that someone with her attitude and narrow minded, ill-informed stance against the only true democracy in the Middle East will not be elected to represent the people of London – who deserve better.
Remembering when Israel had support
Regarding British attitudes to Jews and Israel, I also remember the Six Day War in 1967. The entire UK media, more or less – even the BBC – supported Israel. My dear first wife, who I met at Oxford, said at the beginning of our relationship (because my mother was a Lebanese Protestant Christian): “Look, I warn you! I’m terribly, terribly pro-Jew!… As if it mattered to me one way or the other… The jubilation in the voice of the BBC Home Service newsreader the morning after Eichmann was hanged had to be heard to be believed. Europe is now returning to its centuries-old pattern of generalised anti-Jewishness.
Fond memories of Solomon Wolfson
Further to Jack Clarfelt’s recent letter (Jewish News, 4 December), I had the pleasure of attending the delightful Solomon Wolfson Jewish School reunion he refers to. I was a student at the school from 1948 to 1955 and remember Mr Mendoza and Mrs Goldenberg, plus a host of others, including Mr Mendoza’s immediate successors as headmaster, Mr Shenfield and Mr Somper. My last visit was to attend a reunion prior to its closure in 1981, when the hall was filled to capacity with hundreds of past pupils, and when we had the pleasure of seeing all three heads referred to above together on the stage. Happy memories of a truly great school!
Star of david next to Ukip Logo is a no-go
On the UKIP pound sign appearing beside the Star of David on the party’s Friends of Israel group logo, I find it amazing it took them three years to realise this. No one outside UKIP “friends” had seen the logo until now. But with friends like these…
Who will fill in the missing key words?
Dear Sir Does anyone have the chutzpah, head for heights and a ladder to add the missing words to the slogan below, daubed on a building on Shoreditch High Street? They are, of course: “…From Hamas.” Barry Hyman Bushey Heath mother was a Lebanese Protestant Christian): “Look, I warn you! I’m terribly, terribly pro-Jew!… As if it mattered to me one way or the other… The jubilation in the voice of the BBC Home Service newsreader the morning after Eichmann was hanged had to be heard to be believed. Europe is now returning to its centuries-old pattern of generalised anti-Jewishness.