We should invest in faith schools
I read with interest Rabbi David Meyer’s assessment of the impact of Ofsted inspections on Jewish schools [Jewish News, 9 April]. I agree it is important that we treat the reports as a vehicle to support improvement – improvement that is evidently necessary. I’m also grateful to the excellent teachers working in quite tough conditions under the current Ofsted system.
I note that two schools downgraded in recent assessments are not criticised for neglecting the teaching of British values. Indeed, both schools are described as preparing their pupils well for life in Britain. The criticism in the reports was directed specifically at aspects of teaching and management.
Could PaJeS provide information about the overall picture of schools? Is it just Jewish schools (or even just faith schools) that have been downgraded in this fashion, or is it across the board with regards inspections? How many of the Jewish schools that have been downgraded were downgraded on the grounds of teaching quality and how many were criticised specifically for their poor teaching of British values?
It is wonderful that PaJeS has funds to support schools and I’m sure some of the less open schools have received a wake-up call that state funding brings with it some responsibilities, which they neglect at their peril, traumatic or otherwise.
At the same time, perhaps we are learning as a community that faith schools are not a free alternative to private schooling, but something to invest as a community.
Rabbi Neil Janes
Hypocrisy of the anti-Israel brigade
Thousands of Palestinians’ lives are under threat in Yarmouk in Syria from ISIL, which has besieged the area for more than 700 days and has already murdered many Palestinians.
However, as Brendan O’Neill’s excellent article (Yarmouk exposes callous double standards of ugly Israel bashers, Jewish News, 9 April) showed, there has been little outcry from the Palestinian Authority and anti-Israel groups such as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, which are more focused on trying to punish Israel than caring for Palestinians.
In doing so, they ignore the unfolding tragedy happening before their eyes. They should be absolutely ashamed of their deafening silence. This shows the complete hypocrisy of the anti-Israel movement, which despises Israel more than it cares for the Palestinians it claims to support.
Parliament Street’s Director of Middle East Studies
Hasmo’s response to UKIP candidate
I write in response to UKIP candidate Richard King’s letter (Jewish News, 9 April), in which he claimed: “It was a pleasure to talk to around 80 sixthform students from Hasmonean Boys’ School who attended their Q&A-style hustings on 26 March… At the end, more than 60 percent of the boys came and shook my hand and said they would be voting UKIP.”
As one of the boys who attended, I can tell you this is simply not the case.
While there were maybe 40 boys in attendance, not the quoted 80, perhaps only five to 10 went up to Mr King to shake his hand, while only two of whom promised to vote for UKIP. That’s five percent, not 40.
In fact, having spoken to these students since, they will not be voting for UKIP owing to their vote being wasted on a candidate who has no chance in winning; they will vote for Mike Freer instead to keep Mr Miliband out of Number 10.
Perhaps if UKIP rethinks its anti-shechita policy this number will increase.
If 60 percent of Hasmonean boys shook Richard King’s hand and told him they’d be voting UKIP, they can’t be as bright as he suggests [Jewish News, 9 April]. Naive, superficial, and gullible is more like it.
UKIP has easy answers to difficult questions, plus some decidedly dodgy candidates and members.
If this is the outcome of giving 16-year-olds the vote, I say leave it at 18.
Real reason for Israel’s survival
Sidney Sands asserts that Jews who distance themselves from Israel have not learned the lessons of the Holocaust; presumably, that Jews can rely only on themselves to ensure their survival [Jewish News, 9 April].
He ignores the fact that during the Second World War, millions of non-Jews died defending their homelands from the Nazi onslaught. Simply having a nation state does not guarantee survival.
Just as independent Judea failed to prevent the catastrophic Roman genocide, which brought a swift end to the second Jewish commonwealth, had the modern State of Israel come into existence 20 years earlier, it’s highly conceivable that the Germans, together with their Arab allies, would have invaded the Jewish state and marched its population to death camps on the outskirts of Tel-Aviv. That Israel still exists today is not thanks to self-reliance and its population’s containment inside a hermetically fortified ghetto, but to the ongoing financial and diplomatic support of non-Jewish politicians in America.
In the 1930s, many European Jews ignored the warning signs, yet today it is the Jews in Israel who naively reassure themselves they are an invincible entity capable of fending off the jihadi menace which has brought neighbouring states to their knees.
Equally, they assume that the Iranian threat will pass and that the world will never allow a second Holocaust to occur.
Can Israel count on its sole US ally indefinitely? If the lessons of the Holocaust are to be learnt, instead of thousands of European Jews flocking to Israel like sheep to the slaughter, ominous pronouncements by a regional power promising the destruction of Israel should actually have triggered a mass emigration of Israelis. We in the west will welcome Israel’s Jews with open arms should they ever decide to escape the impending conflagration before it’s too late.
My poem to mark Israel’s birthday
I’d like to share with readers my poem for Israel’s 67th anniversary:
To Israel’s friends, foes and detractors,
this timely poem honours,
the creation of the modern nation state,
of the Jewish people in 1948.
Aged 67 years young,
Israel has at great cost won, e
very war waged against her,
since no government will ever surrender
Israel’s right to exist.
Independence was declared on 5 Iyar,
which falls on 23 April this year.
A true miracle of our time, when God gave us the sign,
that following the pogroms and Holocaust,
Jews would no longer be forced,
to live outside of their homeland,
as promised to our forefather, Abraham.
Now a thriving country to the chagrin of many,
Israel represents for us a sanctuary,
which we can visit, work or live in,
free from persecution and enjoy just being Jews.
On this joyous day in the Jewish calendar,
may all of us in the Holy Land and Diaspora,
celebrate this day proudly, and in our lifetime see,
our nation enjoying peace,
with nations worldwide easing to demonise,
and instead, recognise,
J D Milaric
Mike Freer’s logic is completely skewed
As Jewish elected representatives in London, we are concerned by the statement made in Jewish News [16 April] by Mike Freer, the former Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green. Mr Freer says that as a non-Jew he is better able to represent the Jewish community than someone who is Jewish.
I’m afraid we don’t follow his logic. Does he also believe that a man would be better to represent women, straight people better to represent the gay community, etc? Like any political representative, we are elected to represent all of our constituents to the best of our ability, whatever their gender, faith, race, age or sexuality, whether they are able or disabled, and whatever their political allegiances might be.
It is obvious why Mr Freer has made this statement and who he is comparing himself with.
We happen to be in the middle of an election and Mr Freer wants to persuade Jewish voters that the Labour candidate Sarah Sackman would not represent them as well as him, because she is Jewish. We hope that voters of all faiths and communities will give their judgement on his views when they vote on 7 May.
Cllr Rebecca Challice, London Borough of Barnet
Cllr Natan Doron, London Borough of Haringey
Cllr Joe Goldberg, London Borough of Haringey
Cllr Adam Langleben, London Borough of Barnet
Cllr Peter Mason, London Borough of Ealing
Cllr Neil Nerva, London Borough of Brent
Cllr Alon Or-bach, London Borough of Barnet
Cllr Alan Schneiderman, London Borough of Barnet
Cllr Adam Swersky, London Borough of Harrow
Let’s talk about Track record of all Parties
Last week’s Jewish News editorial opining about UKIP once again takes the frankly lazy and now boringly predictable route of reducing everything to race while ignoring the track records of the other political parties.
As I have said and written on several occasions, no political party is flawless, most others considerably less so, especially on matters pertaining to Israel, to Judaism, to liberty and to culture, although my main worries concern the lofty ‘intelligentsia’ Jews, the self-appointed New Ghetto Council, who have such disdain for us ordinary ‘Pleb Jews’, especially if our politics don’t chime with theirs.
It is even more worrying when a widely circulated newspaper, seemingly wilfully, says little or nothing about the anti-Israel/Zionist/Jewish agendas, in varying levels of rabidity, of parties such as the SNP, the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the LibDems, Labour, the Tories and the wholly misnamed ‘Respect’. Some, especially those on the ‘Left’, make the ghastly BNP look positively tame.
Instead of going into a long analysis, readers could do a lot worse than to check out Edgar Davidson’s excellent blog, posted on 12 April, entitled Which British Political Party is the most anti-Semitic? – http://edgar1981.blogspot.co.uk
It is a real eye-opener. I particularly like Mr Davidson’s take on the star system of rating.
The constant carping about UKIP is not only irritating; it is disingenuous to your readers.
Hopefully, in the interests of balance in the run up to the elections, you will print this letter and thereby allow Jewish News readers to make up their own minds.
Most Pesach essentials are the same price as usual
In answer to ‘Corrie’s’ question, “What is wrong with tap water or normal toothpaste [on Pesach]?” (Ask the Rabbi column, Jewish News, 16 April), Rabbi Schochet wrote: “Kosher food in general tends to be more expensive, but on the whole it must be said that Pesach need not be that much more expensive than any Shabbat or Jewish festival”.
There is one aspect of the perceived extra cost that he omitted. He wrote: “However, if you shop around you will find that you can get kosher for Passover Colgate for virtually the same price as regular Colgate”. This is no doubt true, but is no consolation for those who use supermarket own brand toothpaste that is considerably cheaper.
There is no problem with tap water. I am amazed at the number of people who buy bottled water at grossly inflated prices the whole year round.
It may be justified to use many unsupervised products apart from on Pesach, when the minutest amount of chametz (widely used in manufacturing) may not even be owned, but this makes price increases more noticeable. However, meat, fish and vegetables are no more expensive.
Finally, the cost of ground almonds is considerably higher than flour so Pesach macaroons or cinnamon balls are inevitably far dearer than ordinary biscuits even if made at home let alone the commercially produced ones.
However, unlike wine, matzah and maror, they are not essentials so, if one cannot afford them, one can manage without.
Martin D Stern
Mike Freer and rudi vis – a correction
You refer to Mike Freer “beating Labour’s Rudi Vis” in 2010 to become MP for Finchley and Golders Green (Jewish News, 26 March). However, his late predecessor Dr Vis did not stand for re-election in 2010. The Labour candidate was then Alison Moore.
Staines and District is closer to Heathrow
As someone with friends who are Ealing Shul members and who has attended a number of events there over the years, I am well acquainted with its location.
In your 2 April edition, the first ‘interesting fact’ featured in the ‘Welcome to our Shul’ column states that Ealing Synagogue is the last shul before Heathrow Airport. Well, this depends from which direction one is coming! It is certainly not the closest. That honour goes to Staines and District Synagogue.
Shul Chairman (guess where!)