Letters to the editor: Apathy is our greatest enemy
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Letters to the editor: Apathy is our greatest enemy

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Apathy is our greatest enemy

Last weekend I joined a counter- demonstration against the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)’s rally outside the Israeli Embassy [pictured]. The PSC event was being held to mark the one-year anniversary of Hamas’ so-called Great March of Return.

I feel despondent at the apathy of the Jewish community. Our counter-demonstration numbered no more than 50 (which included non-Jews) and our voices were easily drowned out by the megaphones and much larger numbers of the PSC supporters.

I don’t know how well this was advertised on social media (since I do not participate in social media myself) and I know it was Shabbat, but it appears so many secular Jews would have found any excuse not to join us. 

Maybe fear is part of it, but that is completely unfounded. Many of us there were in our
70s and we had a very strong police cordon separating us from the PSC.

What really sickened me was the sight of Charedim in their Shabbat best, standing with the PSC with placards condemning Israel.

What will it take for the Jewish community to wake up and hear the things that are being shouted at us simply because we are supporting Israel, our ancestral homeland? A Corbyn-led government?

Janet Maltz , Enfield

Our history needs to be told

Two letter writers on 28 March, Angela Goldstein and Mervyn Smith, reached the same conclusion: today’s youth are ignorant of the facts surrounding Israel’s birth and current situation.

The charity Middle East Education exists to fulfil this need. Its speakers, a Muslim and a Jew, give balanced talks together about the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict but demand from schools around the country, Jewish and non-Jewish, has grown so much during the past year that the charity has had to curtail its work due to lack of adequate funding.

While imparting knowledge about Israel’s inventions such as the USB and cherry tomato is important, telling the facts of Israel’s history is even more urgently needed.

Nomi Benari, By email

Did New Zealand churches close?

If Y C Ornstein is “dumbfounded” regarding my email (Jewish News, 21 March),
I can only assume he or she has a very low threshold for being dumbfounded.

I did not say or even intimate we should not show support and empathy for another creed, I merely criticised the arbitrary closing of synagogues in New Zealand to demonstrate that.

Did churches close?

Russell Ballen, By email

Orthodoxy and LGBT+

In the interview with Jonny Benjamin (“More important than ever to teach our children it’s OK to be different”, Jewish News, 28 March), he says: “Children and young adults who identify as LGBT+ are hugely more likely to suffer mental health issues, self-harm, or even take their own lives. Trans pupils, in particular, have enormously high levels of suicide.”

This is tragic but, if readers will excuse my political incorrectness, their self-identification may well be a case of psychological dysfunction rather than social pressure. Mr Benjamin admits as much when he refers to the “obvious link to mental health issues and LGBT+ identity”.

Any form of bullying must be stopped, but other groups perceived as “other” suffer from it without these distressing outcomes to the same degree.

His solution, “that teachers and schools talk to children and tell them it’s OK to be different to be gay, or non-binary” may, therefore, not be the best solution.

Orthodox Judaism certainly considers certain activities unacceptable but that does not mean it condemns as intrinsically evil those who feel drawn to them, as opposed to engaging
in them.

It sympathises with their struggle with their inner desires. If making children aware that some people have certain temptations was all that was required, it might be acceptable if presented in a maturity-appropriate manner.

After all, the matter is mentioned in the Torah and it
is discussed in the Talmud.

Martin D. Stern, Salford

Licoricia a role model for today

Further to your coverage last week of sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley’s statue of Licoricia of Winchester, anyone interested in supporting us can donate via website www.licoricia.org.

We believe this will be the only named statue of a Jewish woman in the UK. She will promote religious tolerance and the knowledge that Britain had a significant medieval Jewish community, and her achievements should inspire women today.

We will be unveiling the maquette at the Art Workers’ Guild, London WC1N 3RB on Thursday, 11 April between 12.30 and 2pm. Readers are invited (please RSVP to mail@licoricia.org if you can come).

We are all looking forward to bringing this unique project to fruition.

William Carver , Trustee, The Licoricia of Winchester Statue Appeal

Against a divided state

Columnist Jenni Frazer writes against Binyamin Netanyahu’s statement that “the state of Israel only belongs to the Jewish people” (Opinion, Jewish News, 11 March).

What she does not understand, or perhaps chooses to ignore, is the phrase “a state of all its citizens” (medinat klal ezracheha; Rotem Sela used the virtually identical medinat kol ezracheha, although contested, is generally understood as code for either a non-Jewish or a bi-national state.

Sela, an intelligent woman, no doubt knows the import of the phrase. In his response to her post, Netanyahu reiterated his long-standing position that although Arab citizens of Israel are full citizens with equal rights, the state of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people only.

Regardless of what Rotem Sela or Jenni Frazer would like to think, this is the view of the overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis.

Nor is this incompatible with the position of the (smaller) majority of Jewish Israelis that there should be two states: the State of Israel for the Jewish people and
a Palestinian state for the Arabs.

Some on the left want to dilute or even eliminate the Jewish character of the State of Israel while at the same time promoting an exclusively Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

If that is Ms Frazer’s position, fine, but she should come out and say so explicitly.

Bernard Schneider, By email

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