Respecting our differences
Your front page story last week contained a call for civility from Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism.
We endorse this.
Like many in our community, we were appalled by the ill-conceived ‘Kaddish for Gaza’ protest, particularly when it had become clear that most of those who had died were from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
While the decision to hold such an event merits strong criticism – even rebuke – the tone and tenor of some comments have bordered on hateful and abusive. Such ferocity does nothing to advance the argument, but rather discredits the point being made, and leaves our community in a less civil place.
As Rabbi Janner-Klausner noted, our statement supporting Israel’s right to defend itself also occasioned a lot of abuse but, as a central communal institution, we fully embrace our accountability.
Yet we should also retain concern for individuals who have made a poor decision and now face obscene comments from people who should aspire for better.
As the outgoing and incoming presidents of the Board of Deputies, we are proud of our community’s diversity. But we call on our community to ensure our debates are less angry and personal, but more constructively vibrant, and ultimately guided always by high standards and the greater communal good.
Jonathan Arkush and Marie van der Zyl
Jewish music at royal wedding
Last week’s Jewish News asked: What was so Jewish about the Royal wedding? You then gave examples of Jewish connections. May I offer three musical omissions:
1. Immediately after the couple were pronounced man and wife, the Hebrew Priestly Blessing, The Lord Bless You and Keep You, was sung in English by the St George’s Chapel Choir. It appeared with almost perfect timing in the Torah Sedra Nasso the Shabbat after the wedding.
2. The Gospel Choir sang Stand By Me, co-written by (its original singer) Ben E. King, plus Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, both American Jewish guys. Stoller is still alive, aged 85.
3. A little looser connection is that the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, although he did not play this tune at the wedding, features on his debut album (and he performed at this year’s BAFTAs) Evening of Roses, which we also know as Erev Shel Shoshanim, composed by Yosef Hadar and Moshe Dor.
Leslie Tobe, Ilford
I applaud the statement made by the Board of Deputies, following the Hamas inspired attack on the border fence. It is high time the Board speaks its mind, after many years of sitting on the fence.
What is, however, upsetting are the comments made in your newspaper by ‘left wingers’ and do-gooders who have succumbed to the many years of lies fed to them by Palestinian sympathisers.
While we should all agree that loss of any life is tragic, there is no ‘circle of violence’, and Hamas clearly stated that it was its objective to break through the barrier and, to quote: “rip out the heart” of Jews!
Israel has every right to protect its citizens and, from independent witness statements, the IDF followed recognised “rules of engagement” in acting in self-defence.
Perhaps these naysayers would like to put themselves at the border fence, rather than to criticise our brothers in our own land.
David Freeman, New Barnet
Why do Jews who rightly claim to care about the civilians in Gaza not care enough to take the trouble to listen to their leaders to find out what is really going on?
Hamas leaders admitted they urged their civilians to tear down the fence, go into Israel with weapons and ‘tear their hearts from their bodies’, and that they hide their operators, who are armed with lethal weapons among the civilians.
Are these caring Jews so ignorant of the facts, or do they really think that by blaming Israel instead of the real perpetrators, they will alleviate the suffering of the poor Gazans?
Nomi Benari, NW4
People are in such a rush to criticise…
An incident involves Israel – so what happens? A United Nations chief accuses the country of a “disproportionate response” in Gaza. Community leader Sir Mick Davis asked: “What of empathy for the innocents among the dead?” Some British Jews signed an open letter criticising the Board of Deputies for its one-sided statement on the border killings. However, like the rest of the world (which can’t wait to criticise Israel when it turns a blind eye to others), they only needed to wait 24 hours to hear most of the dead were Hamas. So were is the “crime against humanity”?
Russell Ballen, By email
Teaching bad lessons
A few dozen young people recited Kaddish for those killed in the violent riots in Gaza, organised by Hamas, whose stated goal was to breach the border fence, cross into Israel and murder as many Jews as possible.
One of the attendees is due to lead Israel tour for one of these youth movements. How can someone who says Kaddish for terrorists be expected to inspire and excite our young people about the Israel?
The state is an oasis of civilisation in the midst of a desert of savagery. That is the lesson we need to teach our youth. How can we allow such people to pollute the minds of our young?
Steven Blumgart, Chair of Mizrachi UK