Letters

It’s a pity Gordon fell for the propaganda

Dear Sir,

Your columnist Gordon Smith opened his opinion piece entitled ‘Hidden side of the occupation’ (Jewish News, 11 June) by stating: “I come from a family of Zionists”. “I’m not a Zionist” would’ve been more informative!

‘Hidden side’? The West Bank is prowled by cohorts of militant non-governmental organisations, biased journalists, foreign diplomats, professional activists and ‘concerned Jews’. Perhaps ‘hidden in plain view’?

While describing the plight of the West Bank Bedouin settlement Susiyeh, Mr Smith omitted to mention that the case has been tried in Israeli courts of law, with every facet examined and every appeal exhausted. Israel’s Supreme Court ruled (as did all the lower courts) that Susiyeh was established illegally on an archaeological park boasting one of the oldest known synagogues.

The authorities have therefore refused to issue a retroactive building permit. Israeli courts often rule against the government and in favour of West Bank Palestinians. Yet in this case, the court found the authorities’ position entirely reasonable.

Mr Smith has been fed disinformation while on a propagandistic ‘tour’ organised by Yachad and Breaking the Silence (BtS).

Despite describing itself as an Israeli NGO, BtS is funded by foreign governments. However, at least its handful of activists are Israeli citizens, entitled to focus disproportionately on their country’s deeds and misdeeds.

But nothing justifies Yachad’s obsessive, exclusive focus on ‘Israeli occupation’. Surely even Yachad would agree that the Jewish State’s 1967 occupation of Hebron (ancient Jewish city 40 miles from Tel Aviv) was slightly more justified than the 2001 British occupation of Helmand in Afghanistan (former British colony 4,000 miles from London). Why is it, then, that Yachad has (for years now) been taking people on ‘tours’ of Hebron, but never of Helmand? As British citizens (who live, pay taxes and vote in the UK – not in Israel), Yachad’s activists surely have more to do with the British occupation than with the Israeli one!

Had he also been ‘touring’ British-occupied Helmand, Mr Smith could have compared occupations and their respective ‘hidden sides’ – which would have
lent more credibility to his highfalutin pronouncements.

BtS is just a fig leaf for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; as for Yachad, it shares with Palestine Solidarity Campaign an obsessive, single-minded focus on Israel’s faults – real or imaginary. And you know what? When ‘humanitarian concern’ is concerned with just one variety of humans – I call it persecution.

Noru Tsalic
University of Warwick

Standing together against the hatred

Dear Sir

The wording of your recent editorial opinion (18 June, Jewish News) on Saturday’s Nazi march left us shouting at your newspaper.

Let us say loud and clear, an anti-Semitic demonstration is by its nature nothing to do with peace. Moreover, such a demonstration that is provocatively taking place within an area with a substantial Jewish population is anything but peaceful. Bizarrely, the Nuremburg Rally held by the Nazis could have been given the same description ‘peaceful’.

The childhood mantra of “sticks and stones” is wrong; names do hurt, they incite violence and death, they lead to the sticks, stones and worse.
It is bemusing that people seek to justify the non-opposition to the Nazis because the risk from Islamic fundamentalism is worse. Simply, just because you have one enemy does not mean that you should be complacent about another enemy. To paraphrase, “we have to fight the Nazis as if there were no Islamo-fascists and vice versa”.

Anger dissipated to sadness with the comments attributed to Jonathan Davies, the Board of Deputies, representative of Golders Green Synagogue, by all means disagree with the tactic, but to justify that by effectively saying “be quiet you might provoke the Nazis” is the defeatist talk that leads to expulsion and, sadly, much worse.

Giving publicity to this issue is not adding oxygen; rather it is highlighting the danger to the majority of the population who are not aware of the rise of the far right. In the past week, a supporter of National Action has been convicted of attempted murder in Wales; before that, the communal Menorah was desecrated in Birmingham by a bunch of Nazis, and nine people were killed by a white supremacist in America.

This is not to downplay the attacks in Tunisia, France or Kuwait, but to say don’t be distracted from all dangers, be they far right, far left, or Islamist.

If we are to learn any lessons from history, it is that the tactic of ignoring doesn’t work. When the handful of lunatics formed the German Workers Party, it was dismissed when the German Government’s agent Adolf Hitler investigated. No oxygen of publicity, no challenge, and consequentially nearly no Jews in areas that once had thriving communities much bigger than that in Golders Green.

This is not just a demonstration that affects the Jews of Golders Green, or even of the UK. It affects everyone.

Everyone must protest that thesethugs are demonstrating; it does not matter whether you are part of a group or an individual, just be there to oppose the Nazis.
We will be demonstrating and hopefully thousands of others will stand up and shout at the Nazis: “You aren’t welcome here or anywhere”. This isn’t Cable Street, it’s why we should oppose now, so that Cable Street is not necessary. We hope you’ll be there too. Speak out while you can.

Mark Lewis and Mandy Blumenthal
N6

Dear Sir

I wholeheartedly agree with Lady Levy and the Barnet Women’s Interfaith Network, that the rally by the far right, Golden Dawn, etc, are completely unwelcome in Golders Green (or anywhere for that matter).

Equally unwelcome are the far left rabble-rousing Unite Against Fascism (UAF), which has a record for stoking up violence. Members are no friends of the Jews or Israel as can be seen from its leaders and supporters, Len McCluskey, Peter Hain, Ken Livingstone, Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn. The UAF, Hope not Hate and the Jew-hating hard left are exactly the same as the Jew-hating extreme right. They are not coming to defend Jews, they are coming for confrontation.

I am not convinced that nothing can be done to stop the demo, and although it’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut, perhaps this is one time that the Civil Contingencies Act should be invoked. Perhaps Mike Freer MP can get this done or maybe Barnet Council should enact emergency powers and declare the area to be a dispersal zone.

However, it is Shabbat and no Jew should attend, not just because this defiles Shabbat, but because if any trouble occurs, we Jews/Zionists will end up getting the blame, guaranteed.

If you are going to shul, then use a route away from the station area. We should have no press, no cameras, no counter demo, no Jews, shops closed, a ghost town and let the Nazis and Commies stand around looking at their feet. And for those yearning for the ‘romance’ and the ‘good old days’; this is not a ‘Cable Street’.

The police are going to have enough on their plate and from a community point of view, the last thing we need are images and reports of Jews being arrested, injured or worse in the papers on our screens and plastered all over social media.

To use an old quotation. “Imagine if war was declared and no-one turned up”. This is precisely that time.

Jeremy Zeid
Harrow

Dear Sir

We at Barnet Green Party are shocked and appalled that a small group of neo-Nazis have called an anti-Semitic demonstration in Golders Green on Saturday.
This is an act of deliberate provocation against the Jewish community, which has lived in and provided an important contribution to both the local area and the British way of life since their arrival along with the Normans in 1070.

It is particularly repugnant in the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

This is not solely a matter for Jewish people, but for all who believe in democracy, tolerance, freedom of faith, and who oppose Nazism. In a climate of growing anti-Semitism across Europe, we urge all communities to come together to roundly oppose their presence.

For this reason, Barnet Green Party and our members – many of whom are Jewish – will be among those joining the counter-protests next weekend, including Adele Ward, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Finchley and Golders Green in the general election.

We stand with the Jewish community at this time and reiterate our opposition to all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and oppression. We will meet at midday outside Golders Green Tube station so do join us.

We are reminded of the slogan used by British anti-fascists who came out onto the streets to successfully prevent Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists from marching through the East End of London in a similar act of intimidation against its Jewish community in 1936.

Barnet Green Party
By email

[Letters received prior to police announcing that Saturday’s neo-Nazi rally is to be relocated to central London]

We’re a community of worried parents

Dear Sir

As a parent of a lone soldier living abroad, I have sympathy with Lisa Sanders’ piece (Jewish News, 11 June) and found it moving to read.

My son decided to make aliyah and serve in the IDF following his gap year and waited four years to fulfil his dream.

I am fine as long as things stay quiet, but I know if it all kicks off, I will be a nervous wreck. But I could no more stand in his way than fly.

It is a huge tussle between wanting to keep them close and protect them and let them go despite the dangers of doing so.

There is a whole community of worried parents out there but it is tempered by huge pride in what they are doing.

Sally Halon
Via jewishnews.co.uk

You can be a proud jew without a kippah

Dear Sir

Regarding Ann Cohen’s letter entitled “No proud Jews among the Forty Under 40?” (Jewish News, 18 June) criticising those pictured on your front page for not wearing kippot and thus not being “proud Jews”, I was one of those pictured.

I work full-time as a youth worker for a Jewish movement and in my spare time sit on the Board of Deputies, volunteer for the UJS and support a Holocaust education project.

While at university, I was JSoc president and headteacher of a cheder.

I take pride in my Judaism and prefer to express it through my life and the use of my time than wearing a kippah.

I hope this reassures Ms Cohen about “what hope [there is] for the future” of Britain’s Jewish community.

Gabriel Webber
By email

Lord Sacks has got it so wrong on BDS

Dear Sir

Your report of Lord Sacks’ comments on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) at the Herzyliya conference is yet another example of the man’s inability to grasp the facts.

His tenure as Chief Rabbi was marked by a sequence of gaffes and great costly mistakes, which did nothing to enhance the community of which he was looked upon by the establishment as its titular head.

This recent statement is simply an extension of his continuing criticism of Israel and provides further ammunition for the BDS movement.

I find it extraordinary that he is still invited to address such an audience and be able to make inflammatory and absurd statements.

Philip Platt
Finchley