Letters

We are critics of Israel… not jews

We are Jews and Israelis who work and study in York. Some of us were in the audience for last week’s performance of Caryl Churchill’s 10-minute play Seven Jewish Children at the University of York; others were involved in its production and acted in it. All of us are committed to seeing a just peace in Israel and Palestine.

Some of us have only attended Palestinian Solidarity Society events, others are ordinary members and committee members of this university society.

It is clear to us that the society is committed to fighting racism and prejudice in all its guises, in particular intolerance of Palestinians in Israel as well as Palestinian prejudice against Jews.

As Israelis and Jews, some of us have personal experiences of being labelled anti-Semitic because we have expressed criticism of the abusive and intolerant attitudes of many Israelis, or of Israeli policies, towards the Palestinian people.

Our support of an occupied, oppressed people is often mistakenly perceived, particularly by those Jews who identify as Zionist, as anti-Semitic sentiment.

To equate criticism of Zionism with anti-Semitism is not only dishonest, it also has an adverse effect for those Jews who do suffer actual intolerant, anti-Semitic abuse which should be taken seriously. Moreover, this misplaced accusation calls into question our own Jewishness, which we find an offensive gesture.

Finally, we would like to make it clear that Tommy Corbyn, son of the leader of the Labour Party, had nothing to do with organising, producing or even promoting the play.

Maddie Boden, Evie Brill Paffard,
Eran Cohen, 
Edmund Dable-Heath,
Hagar Geula, 
Juliana Morrison and Adrian Tellwright

By email

Judge Khan by his deeds, not words

The Labour Party’s latest friend of the Jews, Sadiq Khan, is running for London mayor. Let’s not look at what he says but his record – what he has done.

Mr Khan, like his leader Jeremy Corbyn, has appeared at meetings with fellow guests that are beyond the pale. He did not press the flesh at these meetings – in fact he said he did not even know of the attendance of some of the undesirables as he breezed in, made speeches and breezed out.

Perhaps that’s understandable, but it’s careless nevertheless. He also met some of the same people during the course of his work as a human rights lawyer.

He has travelled to Israel and the territories under the auspices of the Friends of Palestine, hardly a neutral group, and at the time of the Gaza War publically supported Baroness Warsi when she resigned from the cabinet. The crime of the government was to declare it supported Israel’s right to defend itself.

So when Ed Miliband attacked Israel for its actions after declaring himself a Zionist, Khan very much jumped on the bandwagon in support of his leader, which included a request for an arms embargo.

Perhaps Sadiq Khan is a new man and now sees Palestinian violence as an ingredient in the never-ending troubles. If so, he has kept quiet about it.

Adrian Needlestone

By email

Israel deals fairly with offenders

I take issue with the assertion made by Martin Saffer in his letter (Jewish News, 11 February) in which he claims “Israel is not yet a light unto the nations”. The opposite is the case. Allow me to cite just a few of the may salient facts available to back this contention. • Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and functions as such with a judicial system that can convict and imprison a former prime minister and president of the country. • Basic human rights and religious freedoms are accorded to citizens of all faiths, together with gay people and those following other doctrines. • This small state boasts a record of economic growth that is second to none in the world and the envy of many other, longer-established and larger states. Not for nothing is Israel often referred to as the ‘start-up nation’. All of this while the country has no natural resources – other than her people. All of this is achieved while having to maintain a very expensive defence budget, being under constant terrorist attack, vilified at the UN and other international gatherings, subject to intermittent BDS campaigns and surrounded by enemies.

J D Milaric

By email

We must help those affected by war

Noach Bright (Jewish News, 11 February) is right in his letter to highlight the importance of helping Jews from regions where Jewish communities have been decimated. Jews who were caught in the Bosnian civil war were often trapped between opposing sides and felt terrified that history might repeat itself. Luckily, many were airlifted out. Some 130 Jews found refuge from the conflict in the UK. World Jewish Relief was instrumental in this. In 1994, Jewish Care took responsibility for the programme, which WJR continued to support. We must never forget the legacy of war and persecution in Europe and continue to support those affected.

Stacey Swimer

World Jewish Relief