Readers letters: 07/12/2014

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Readers letters: 07/12/2014

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Wish you all well over the fast!
Wish you all well over the fast!
  • Open letter to the Board of Deputies

Dear Deputies

It is in despair and anger that I find myself writing this public, but very necessary, letter. As has been clear for some time, the Board of Deputies has become a cosy ‘gansa macher club’ that’s more interested in bolstering the illusion of a non-existent status quo.

Consequently, the Board has not only become an irrelevance but an impediment to public discourse. You call yourselves the voice of British Jewry. Sorry, but your increasingly lamentable record on standing up for Israel and lack of a robust public voice defending British Jewry against Judeophobia speaks volumes.

On the other hand, you make a great play about tackling ‘Islamophobia’, so here is a question: what is ‘phobic’ or ‘irrational’ about fearing being killed, robbed and enslaved just for being a Jew? Quote from the Koran: ‘Strike at their necks where you find them’.

By logical progression, would you be fighting against ‘Naziphobia’? Not a squeak about Ed Miliband’s three-line whip on Labour to recognise a Palestinian state. And where were your and Yachad’s voices at the disgusting slaughter of four peaceful rabbis and the heroic Druze Israeli police officer who gave his life? I don’t recall any major outcry or condemnation of the other recent murders in Jerusalem, one of a three-month-old baby. But still you want our money.

I’m reminded of many of the ‘ghetto elders’ who were charged by those hostile to us with keeping the ‘lid on things’ and ‘maintaining good order’, supposedly to buy time and not ‘rock the boat’. What finally did it for many of us is your lurch to the left, whose supporters such as the SWP and UAF make the BNP pale into insignificance.

One of your deputy’s Facebook pages shows him standing proudly under the statues of two of the biggest triggers of misery, Jew-hatred and systematic murder ever, Marx and Engels. It was he who at election time plundered his shul’s database, probably illegally, to write to members. Quote: “I’m not telling you how to vote, but…”.

I telephoned and wrote to you to complain, to the shul concerned and to the Chief Rabbi’s office and, surprise, surprise, nothing. Zip, nada, bupkis. So just what are you for? Anti-Semitism is not just on the rise, but becoming increasingly fashionable, dressed up as anti-Zionism, as is the delegitimisation of the State of Israel: replacing it with what? A pluralistic Palestinian Islamic utopia perhaps?

There are condemnations of ISIS murders, rapes and beheadings of Western hostages, while you keep schtum about Hamas’ attacks on Jews. Deputies and worthies take note; you are so busy tolerating and thereby encouraging cruelty and evil (in the interests of ‘inclusivity and diversity’) and being ‘politically correct’ that you put us all in danger.

As a consequence, we are now opting out of our contribution to the board, call it ‘BDS’ if you like, because that is how thousands of us feel when we are let down by our so-called leaders who avert their eyes from evil and bad-mouth Israel, the only beacon of hope and freedom in the region.

Hopefully many others will follow suit. With friends like you, who needs enemies? And as others do likewise, it may trigger a clean sweep of an arrogant and out-of-touch gansa macher club more interested in its social contacts than the Jewry it purportedly represents.

Put more succinctly: for evil to prevail, all it takes is for good men to keep silent. The Board has been worryingly silent.

Jeremy Zeid, Chairman Harrow UKIP and Simone Simmons, UKIP Hendon

  • Charlotte: Honesty please on Lib Dems

Dear Sir,

Regarding Charlotte Henry’s decision to quit the Lib Dems over David Ward, is she not running away from facing up the real task of defending Israel’s right to exist? I say this as a Jew, an Israeli and a Lib Dem. I have taken issue with MP David Ward and with Lib Dem Friends of Palestine over support of extremists and making statements that are anti-Semitic in tone. If we ran away every time the Lib Dems (or Labour and the Tories for that matter, both also have their share of fools) said anything outrageous, we would lose any influence defending moderates against the growing tide of extremists who threaten to destroy not only Israel but any hope for a peaceful future for Palestine or Israel. Ms Henry, you should stay and fight your corner if that is what you believe, unless this is just a convenient excuse to leave the party, in which case be honest about it.

Leon Duveen


Dear Sir,

I read with admiration Charlotte Henry’s opinion piece last week on quitting the Liberal Democrats over the party’s “tacit support of anti-Semitism”. What is missing in today’s political climate are morals and ethics. Miss Henry is a shining example that there are welcome exceptions. Why not join the Jewish Leadership Council? I am sure she would be a great asset and very much welcomed.

Bettine Le Beau

North Finchley

  • St. James’ and the security barrier

Dear Sir,

Last year St. James’ Church built a “mock-up” wall copying the security barrier in Israel which has cut terrorist incursions by 90 percent. This year, Egypt experienced the same problems, with Hamas terrorists entering from Gaza and murdering soldiers.

Egypt is now considering following Israel’s lead by constructing an eight-mile wall dividing Gaza from Egypt. If this comes to fruition, do we take it St. James will erect yet another wall, mentioning Egypt, to explain the situation in this vicinity?

I’m sure this would have helped to defend Israel’s situation in erecting its barrier and defending itself during the recent war in Gaza, when the BBC, the media and much of the UK’s population appeared to be on the side of Hamas.

Maureen Shapiro


  • Shame on you for lack of coverage

Dear Sir,

What a great shame you gave so much space to Mitzvah Day and so little to the Remembrance Day parade.

You and your team should be thoroughly ashamed.

It is an absolute necessity that the Jewish and non-Jewish communities be made constantly aware of the sacrifices the military of all faiths made to secure security of life for the world.

If this had not happened, then we of the Jewish faith would not be here to tell the tale and our children and grandchildren and even our great grandchildren would not exist.

As a businessman, I visit and do business with Germany and the current generation cannot understand how their forefathers could have behaved in such a brutal way.

What a shame the little corporal survived the First World War.

The organisers of Mitzvah Day should consider changing the date of their special event to allow us to have our Day of Mourning uninterrupted.

Elliot Lewis,


Dear Sir,

While acknowledging your excellent coverage of this year’s Mitzvah Day activities, yet again I have to say how distressing it is to have seen only one small photograph and a short article about the annual Ajex Parade.

Mitzvah Day can be celebrated on any Sunday, so why must it be on the same day as the Ajex Parade? If it were not for the men and women who fought and died in the wars, we the Jewish population would probably not be able to observe Mitzvah Day. Mitzvah Day was launched in 2005.

The first Ajex Parade was in 1930 – some 84 years ago. People may say that it is a mitzvah to attend the Ajex service but I am sure I am not the only one who does not entirely agree with this statement.

So, come on Mitzvah Day – it’s not too late to change your date for 2015. Surely one week later will not make any difference – and you would probably get even more “mitzvah doers” from some of those men and women who march in the parade.

Ann Belson


Dear Sir,

For the past eight years, Mitzvah Day has been privileged to run an ‘Honour Our Armed Forces’ project by attending and participating in the AJEX Parade.

This close partnership with AJEX has resulted in a steady growth in numbers supporting AJEX and engaging with issues relating to military service and the lessons to be learned from the devastation caused by war.

With the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belsen this coming year, we have decided to move the date of Mitzvah Day to the week following the parade to allow even more people to support AJEX both locally and at Whitehall.

The parade will remain a core Mitzvah Day project with even more support, hopefully from the community, with all the other Mitzvah Day projects moving one week later, to 22 November 2015, still firmly within Inter Faith Week.

We urge everyone to support AJEX in this special year of remembrance as remembrance is, indeed, a mitzvah.

Laura Marks

Founder and Chair, Mitzvah Day

  • An irrational long-haul flight of fancy

Dear Sir,

I was delighted that my letter suggesting that it’s unacceptable for Charedim to bully women out of their seats on El Al flights inspired such a mammoth, rambunctious rant from your letter writer Joseph Cohen, providing a welcome insight into the kind of people who defend such practices.

Being devoid of any rational arguments, and not letting facts ruin good fiction, he embarks on a long-haul flight of fancy, bringing in security detectors, aircraft design, the likelihood of a crash, Al Jazeera, kosher meals, naked-only flights, promiscuity on university campuses and the tragedy of illicit ill-fated mid-air relationships.

Throw in a pregnant transvestite rabbi and three witches stirring cholent and, before you can say “JK Rowling,” this man could be a millionaire and I could claim royalties for inspiring the plot!

While not attempting to offer a reasoned response to the irrational, but always wishing to encourage the talents of aspiring authors, I admit that his allegations about my embracing other men’s wives are uncannily spot-on with respect to my mother, two married aunties and three married cousins, although I don’t recollect embarking upon lascivious relationships with any of them or being tempted to do so by any literature received on a plane, a campus or elsewhere.

My original letter was a response to that inveterate correspondent Martin Stern of Salford, an avid apologist for segregated seating and other outlandish Charedi practices (and whose in-flight cinematic preferences Mr Cohen also uncannily divines!).

Whatever their merits, Mr Stern tiresomely puts his arguments in a rational and coherent manner, unlike Joseph and his technicolour dreamworld!

Herbert Goldberg


Dear Sir,

Does letter writer Joseph Cohen really believe he has made a rational argument for the ridiculous behaviour of so-called “Orthodox” Jews on El Al? There is clearly no risk of inappropriate behaviour on a flight unless the so-called “Orthodox” individual is incapable of behaving like a normal human being.

Why should El Al and its passengers have to tolerate demands and behaviour that no other carrier would put up with? Maybe El Al should offer an option on booking for those who are unable to exercise self control to pay extra to sit in a section of their own – with a mechitzah? – or maybe El Al is willing to run a special meshuganas-only flight with separate seating and a mechitzah (and a cold shower or mikvah). I fly frequently to Israel and never fly El Al, partly to avoid the nonsense that goes on in pandering to the requirements of a group who are the ones who show a lack of respect and consideration for their fellow passengers and human beings.

“Tragedies do happen,” says Mr Cohen.

The real tragedy is religious fanaticism dressed up as “piety”.

Would Avraham Avinu have treated his fellow man in this way? “He (Herbie Goldberg, who I know from my community) should accept different people have different requirements”. This could be stretched to even more absurd limits than Mr Cohen suggests.

If I didn’t want to sit next to someone wearing a crucifix because it offended my senses, should I be allowed to insist on a seat change?

Enough with religious bigotry and self-imposed pieties and chumras which have no place in the Torah handed to Moshe Rabeinu at Sinai.

This behaviour is alienating future generations from traditional Judaism, which is being squeezed out by the march of the Charedim claiming the moral high ground and the right to dictate how others behave. Enough!

Adam Caplin


  • Jews for jesus not ‘motley’ ‘or ‘misfits’

Dear Sir,

I’m a member of Jews for Jesus and wish to reply to Brian Gordon’s criticism of my movement in last week’s issue.

Yes, Rabbinic Judaism says Jesus is not the Messiah, but Christianity says that if he is not the Messiah of the Jews then he is not the Messiah at all. The two cannot be reconciled but that does not mean that the way forward is to be so rude about other people who are also made in God’s image.

My wife did not appreciate Mr Gordon describing us as “motley” or “crackpot” or “social misfits”. I’m sure it would not be something my family would enjoy reading. He is entitled to his opinion.

That’s what made the UK a safe destination for my family when they escaped Poland. I just ask that he refrains from extreme language.

Simon Lissak

By email

  • Memories sparked by ‘solly wolly’ reunion

Dear Sir,

I was interested to see the photo of the reunion of the past pupils of the Solomon Wolfson Jewish school as I attended this school until I went on to secondary school at 11 in 1944.

Incidentally, it was not actually in Ladbroke Grove, but in Lancaster Road and next to a school that had some fairly rough boys and I can remember frequently running the gauntlet. On the other side was the Roxy cinema, where you could sometimes slip in when someone came out of the rear doors and see part of a film.

There was also a dairy, which had a peculiar smell. The headmaster was a Mr Mendoza and I was in several classes of whom I can remember Mrs Sternheim and Mrs Goldenberg. I was evacuated with the school to a small village called Atworth and lessons were held in the village hall.

Both my sisters also attended the school and Gertrude (Trudy) vividly remembers taking part in a production of The Mikado, which she still sings, still out of tune.

I wonder if you could let me have details of the group secretary or if you could pass this email on.

Jack Clarfelt

By email

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