Our weekly Readers’ Letters page, now published online and in print
• When it’s time to finally step aside
Jerry Lewis and I have known each other for too many years to mention, and I know that he has a keen interest in British political history. So perhaps he could take heed of the following: When British prime ministers step down or lose an election, they tend to leave parliament or, in the case of Harold Macmillan, Anthony Eden and Baroness Thatcher, are kicked upstairs. More than anything else, they tend to leave the arena and let those who have succeeded them get on with the job in hand.
Perhaps Jerry, Lionel Kopelowitz and Eldred Tabachnik should take a leaf out of Churchill’s, Atlee’s, Blair’s and Major’s book and depart with dignity. He should remember that those who stayed – such as bitter old Ted Heath – became a joke.
The Board of Deputies is so much better than it ever was, more respected and more professional – witness the manifestos for the European elections just gone and next year’s general election. The Board is certainly more representative and diverse than it ever was, with young people and women taking the helm.
It could, of course, be more diverse, and the proposed acceptance of Yachad and hopefully British Herut and the Chareidim will address that. I have a suggestion: perhaps, like serving Honorary Officers, Deputies could have term-limits, too. I am the deputy for Bromley Reform Synagogue and I’ll know when to step aside and let it go – and that will probably be three terms.
• Help get galloway removed as an mp
Many, if not most, of your esteemed readers probably have little time for the rantings and ravings of George Galloway, the MP for Bradford West.
Given that Mr Galloway was investigated by the West Yorkshire police and I believe is currently under investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service for incitement to hatred as a result of his inflammatory remarks directed against Jewish people, I believe he is unfit for purpose to hold the prestigious office of, and the benefits that accrue from being, a Member of Parliament.
I am currently compiling a petition at http://tiny.cc/yzvplx (URL shortened for convenience) to have him removed as an MP.
Now, while in practice the process for the removal of an MP is more complicated than just via a petition, the 1,000+ signatories to date will each have generated an email to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, something I am sure the commissioner cannot fail to notice. For this reason I urge readers of Jewish News to sign it.
I have cited the following reasons for his removal:
1) Galloway’s website for the Respect Party is nothing short of a pro-Hamas, anti-Israel tirade, adding no value, which it should as the website for a British political party, to the lives of the Bradford constituents he represents.
2) There is nothing on the front page of his political party website that either represents or assists the welfare of his constituents.
3) His publicly-expressed hatred for a country and its people who are many miles from his constituency means that he is not fit for purpose to represent some of his local constituents (which is what he is paid by the taxpayer to do), namely those of Jewish faith.
4) By encouraging a boycott of Israeli products, in particular medical products, he seeks to deny his constituents potentially life-saving or life-enhancing products that have been invented in Israel.
This cannot be seen in any way as being of benefit to his constituents and does not represent the manner in which an MP and public representative should behave. He should therefore be removed as a MP immediately for both his unbridled racism towards Jewish people, for wishing to deny his constituents life-saving medical products and for bringing the Houses of Parliament into disrepute.
• Don’t be fooled by gaza backlash
In the wake of Israeli actions in Gaza, our leaders, communal bodies and press are all labelling the surge of attacks against Jews as acts of “anti-Semitism.” This is, of course, a grave misconception.
We may like to tell the world that Jews and Israel are distinct entities, but we all know this is a deceptive tool used to claim that Jews are being irrationally targeted for Israeli actions, while simultaneously allowing British Jewry to continue their staunch support for the Jewish state.
When will it click that we can’t have it both ways? If a person’s Jewishness is expressed by identification with Israel, then all aspects of a person’s Jewishness will be attacked by those who hate Israel.
UK Jews are not being attacked because they are Jews per se, but because the majority of Jews in this country pledge total allegiance to the Jewish state, defending it when it slaughters hundreds to avenge the lives of three boys snatched from a location they had no right to settle in.
When thousands of British Jews gather in central London protesting against anti-Semitism, gleefully brandishing Israeli flags, the message conveyed is: “We are Jews and we support Israel; how dare you attack us for being Jews who support Israel.”
It is clear that recent attacks against Jews do not originate from the traditional hatred of Jews, they stem from unswerving Jewish support for Israel. Such attacks are in fact instances of anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism. This is the reality in Israel itself. It should be acknowledged here too.
• The hasbara special goes round & round
The train leaving the station is belching black smoke and grime. The wheels are not so much turning round as groaning as if gasping and spluttering for air. Like an old war horse fit to pack it in. There are very few people on board this train. But they seem happy enough and oblivious to the rows of empty seats around them, all of which are marked “reserved”. On the platform people are trying unsuccessfully to board.
It’s the “Hasbara Special” and in all truth it’s going nowhere – just round and round in circles until it eventually returns to the very self same platform and station where it started. Dusted down, it’s then filled with the same bloated promises of yesteryear as it awaits the next crisis to befall the Jewish community, when no doubt it will react in the same tardy fashion. Be it the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council or Zionist Federation, the reaction remains between muted and silent.
Individuals and small groups take to the streets and the airwaves and write to the press expressing their exasperation at the bias of the coverage. But when the fires are cooled, the statuesque returns and nothing changes.
The particular target of my frustration is the Zionist Federation which, to be fair, was the only Jewish communal organisation to lift its head above the parapet and gauge the awful PR carnage out there.
But why should fairness count when incompetence reigns. I have carefully studied the ZF adverts in the Jewish press. I commend it for placing the adverts. The Jewish press, by definition does not have a large potential audience and any payment to the coffers is no doubt welcome. The ZF was naturally upset, and made it known, that it was left out of a community meeting to discuss the recent crisis. To me, this action seems very odd but I would have more sympathy for it if they did not display the same exclusivity in protecting its own patch as the other Jewish communal organisations do in protecting theirs.
In 1980, in between leaving the Evening Standard to join, whisper it quietly, the News Of The World, I met at the House of Commons with Greville Janner and a senior Jewish executive from the Daily Mirror, long since dead.
The topic was how to move on the old guard who knew very little but said a lot when it came to Jewish affairs in general and Israel in particular. After a couple of meetings this community fixer decided nothing could be done and the meetings ended.
Now, more than 30 years later, nothing has changed. It’s still Groundhog Day. Although I am not impressed with the ZF’s action, at least it decided to take some. However, a training day held alongside a biennial conference might seem like a good idea, but should people willing to give up their Sunday for training be asked at the same time to pay for it? The training day is to be followed by an advocacy day in December. By then the Martians might have arrived or Putin, if past actions are any guide, might well be occupying London to protect the ever growing number of Russian speakers living there.
Squeezed somewhere in between these events is a proposed picket of Channel 4 News – and boy does it deserve it! I have always thought the best demonstrations are, or give the impression of, being spontaneous. In the case of Channel 4, the bird has flown.
The Hasbara train still has the same old faults. It chugs along to nowhere with new people making the same old mistakes, with the first rule always being to fiercely protect your patch. The last thing any outsider can do is climb aboard and grab a seat. They are all taken.
• No question of a take over of land
Stephen Oryszczuk reported (Jewish News, 3 September) that “Britain strongly condemned Israel’s decision to expropriate almost 1,000 acres of Palestinian land on the West Bank as a response to the kidnap and murder of three teenagers in June”.
It is unfortunate that an Israeli army spokesperson should have announced that on the instructions of the political echelon, 4,000 dunams at Gevaot (a small Jewish settlement) is declared as state land, giving the misleading impression that it was a “political” decision.
What actually happened was that, after several years of investigations, it had been determined that the land in question was not privately owned and so, by virtue of the Ottoman law still operative in the territory, it was “state land”. There is no question of takeover of any privately owned Palestinian land whatsoever, despite the IDF spokesperson’s reference to “giving Palestinian landowners 45 days to appeal” – it is merely a clarification of the land’s long-standing legal status.
Furthermore, it in no way substantiates Peace Now’s assertion that it was could “dramatically change the reality in the Gush Etzion and the Bethlehem areas”.
Perhaps that organisation should be renamed “Peace in our time” to reflect its true nature.
Martin D. Stern
• And now comes the propaganda war
So Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas now wants the UN to replace the USA as the leading peacemaker between Israel and the Palestinians. PA negotiator Hanan Ashrawi, meanwhile, intends to take Israel to the ICC for war crimes. According to her, Hamas is not guilty of war crimes.
Both the UN and ICC are puppets of Muslim countries and the outcome of both investigations would be anti-Israel. They now claim to want Israel to “withdraw” to the 1967 borders, which even President Obama in his wisdom also advocates, making Israel indefensible.
The relentless propaganda and the incessant flow of misinformation seems to be more virulent than ever.