Readers’ letters: Bibi, the Board and Bad Jews

Readers’ letters: Bibi, the Board and Bad Jews

Richard Ferrer has become a leading voice on Jewish communal issues since becoming editor of the Jewish News in 2009, writing about contemporary Jewish life for a national audience. He edited the Boston Jewish Advocate, America's oldest Jewish newspaper and created the Channel 4 series Jewish Mum of the Year.

Wish you all well over the fast!
Wish you all well over the fast!

If you want to contribute to readers’ letters – the contact details are as follows: PO Box 34296, London NW5 1YW •

Making demands from a distance

Dear Sir,

Eli Shafritz’s opinion column regarding Yachad’s new Kids Court in Conflict campaign [Jewish News, 16 February] was noble, if naive.

It is not ethical to give advice to Israel from the comfort of your own safe surroundings.

I wonder if Ms Shafritz is aware of what goes on in Arab areas where Israelis pass though? Juvenile gangs lay in wait by the roadside with plenty of rocks and supported by two lookouts, one for each side of the road. When a car with an Israeli plate approaches gang members are warned and arm themselves with rocks.

As the car passes by they stone it.

There are videos showing this and there have been numerous reports of injuries and some deaths as well.

Even if the car escapes, the effect of being stoned can be very disturbing. How Israelis deal with this is up to them, not us.

I would suggest that Ms Shafritz may get better results if she asked the mothers of these young people why on earth they allow their children to act like this in the first place. I am afraid that one day an Arab child may get accidentally run over.

Stop these children stoning and then there will not be a need to worry about their rights.

Uri Rabin


Rights & wrongs of islamic relief

Dear Sir,

I was surprised you afforded the hospitality of your columns in your 9 February edition to the director of Islamic Relief UK [IRUK].

The accounts of Islamic Relief Worldwide [IRW], which counts IRUK as one of its most important branches, have shown it has partnered with a number of organisations linked to terrorism and some of the charity’s trustees are affiliated with extremist Islamist groups that have connections to terrorist acts.

In 2006, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs designated IRW itself as a terrorist front, claiming: “IRW’s activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are carried out by social welfare organisations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives, whose intense activities are designed to further Hamas’s ideology among the Palestinian population”.

The Israeli government declared IRW illegal in December 2014 based on evidence accumulated over years that the fund is a central player in the financing of Hamas.

Incidentally, it was one of the reasons why the Board of Deputies’ monitoring committee charged with overseeing Oxfam’s links to extremist organisations during the controversial joint Grow Tatzmiach project decided the organisation had crossed a red line because of its links to IR among others.

Roslyn Pine


Dear Sir,

Thanks for publishing a brilliant and much-needed article by the head of Islamic Relief UK.

Often, people purporting to be from the same faith as me, or from any other faith for that matter, use it as a means for bad not good.

It is sickening what we are seeing in many countries of the world, no doubt.

Yes, there are verses in the Qur’an that seemingly promote violence. There is no point saying otherwise. They need to be read and understand in context though; that is important. Using Qur’anic verses as soundbites get us nowhere.

The same is true, surely, for the Bible and other holy books and teachings from amazing people in history that have been used and abused and taken out of context.

The Qur’an is also full of teachings about how we must be merciful to each other, how we are all born from Adam and made into “nations and tribes so we may know one another”.

I and millions of other Muslims try to live by this more than anything else. If preachers of hatred are found to be speaking at events in derogatory terms against Jews, Christians, homosexuals or others then Muslims need to be the first ones to ban them and speak out. We all have a role to play.

Julie Siddiqi

By email

Response to bibi’s invite to diaspora

Dear Sir,

Unlike editor Richard Ferrer (No Bibi, I am not your refugee – Jewish News, February 19), I think it was wonderfully comforting for Benjamin Netanyahu to have reminded all European Jewry – not just those in France and Denmark – that they need never again be trapped in Europe as they were during the Third Reich.

We now have a choice. I watched the whole of the Paris synagogue service broadcast live, at which Bibi spoke to in French.

He was magnificent.

The previous day’s Friday night service had been cancelled for the first time since 1944. Notably, all the bereaved families took up his offer to have the victims buried in Jerusalem. It was profoundly moving and uplifting to also see the levoyah broadcast the next day.

While Mr Ferrer points out the many positive aspects of Jewish life in the UK, let us not forget why the Chief Rabbi and other communal leaders felt compelled to lead a demonstration at the Royal Courts of Justice last August against rising anti-Semitism.

This was because despite the hundreds of incidents reported to the police there had, at that time, been not even one prosecution.

It was timely and highly appropriate, therefore, for Netanyahu to remind Jewish people that they are welcome to come to the Jewish state and that the doors remain open.

Anne Elliott

By email

Dear Sir,

Why does Prime Minister Natanyahu’s open invitation to the Jewish Diaspora to return “home” raise such violent reaction? Does your editor protest too much? I do not think Mr Natanyahu was telling everyone to flee their countries of residence, but offering Israel to all of us, whenever we may need or want it.

Whether it is just for a holiday (I applaud Richard Ferrer’s statement that he prefers to travel to Tel Aviv than Marbella) to go on a gap year course, perhaps to own a second home or make aliyah – our hearts should be uplifted to know that we are truly welcome in Israel at any time.

It was distressing to read in his article that apparently Mr Ferrer totally disassociates himself from the people of Israel. Black people who are probably fourth and fifth generation Americans call themselves “Afro-Americans” yet may never have set foot in Africa.

Does he not have any sense of connection to his roots? He may not be a refugee but someone back in his family must have been.

I accept that they were fortunate enough to have been allowed into Great Britain, but they would not have been totally welcomed and then they would have had to work very hard to achieve the “acceptance” Mr Ferrer is so proud of .

I also found his offer to have numbers [David Gower’s Test match batting average] tattooed on his arm quite abhorrent.

Mrs S Hartman

By email

Dear Sir,

In light of recent comments made by Board of Deputies member Lawrence Brass and Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer, I feel obligated to respond on behalf of Israel.

Surely it is the fundamental responsibility of each and every one of us Jews in the diaspora to support Israel openly in whatever the country does or says – no matter what. I firmly believe this should be so, even when perhaps, in our heart of hearts, we do not agree with something Israel may have done.

Comments by Mr Brass of the Board infuriated me. In this day and age, when anti-Semitism and anti Israel views are rife, it simply adds fuel to the fire for these haters. Furthermore, it annoys me that people such as Mr Brass and other members of the Board supposedly represent me.

Hopefully, Alex Brummer will take over its next president after the upcoming election and will take a firm line against those lacking true and loyal support of Israel.

Regarding Mr Ferrer’s opinion article on Mr Netanyahu’s call for all Jews to live in Israel, it is true Britain has been a good place for Jews to live. Of course, in an ideal world everyone should be allowed to live wherever he or she wishes.

But the sad fact is we do not live in an ideal world and the reality is that for a Jew, the ideal place is Israel.

It seems to me that this was simply what Mr Netanyahu was saying when taking the events in other places in Europe into account.

Therefore, both Mr Ferrer’s and Mr Netanyahu’s views have substance.

Stuart Greenberg

By email

Dear Sir,

Regarding Richard Ferrer’s recent column, ‘No Bibi, I am not your refugee’, being third generation British Jew Mr Ferrer must have forgotten, or simply not thought about, how a Jew should be connected to the land of Israel.

Jews of every creed and status should thank Israel for being there and indeed thank the country’s prime minister for assuring all us we are always welcome.

There are Jewish politicians in Israel, like Mr Abraham Burg, who want to restrict Jewish immigration to Israel.

So we have to pray for leaders likes Bibi who will always be there for the Jewish people.

Esther Sherman

By email

Dear Sir,

Richard Ferrer suggests Netanyahu is calling for “massive immigration’ of Jews from Europe and indignantly rejects the call, stating “Netanyahu is guilty of grave errors of presumption”.

Regrettably, along with others [including those set on disparaging Mr Netanyahu ahead of the election] Mr Ferrer is responding to something the Israeli leader didn’t say. He said that Israel is ready for massive immigration from Europe: “Israel is there for [European Jewry] and Israel is their home.”

The government has discussed a NIS 180million program to support aliyah for Jews around the world. Israel is waiting for them with open arms.

Being prepared for possible massive immigration is very different from advocating it.

Jonathan Hoffman


Dear Sir,

Having read the article by Richard Ferrer in the Jewish News about why he wouldn’t move to Israel, I believe he should edit the Guardian, not the Jewish News.

He will be more wanted there than on a Jewish newspaper. He does not speak for me.

Abraham Issac

By email

behind the scenes at ‘that’ question time

Dear Sir,

Now the furore has died down, I can tell you I was in the audience of that episode of Question Time.

In fact, I raised the question from the audience about Labour’s 40 percent tax limit being raised to 50 percent before the election. Before the programme I approached the group of Jewish boys who were psyching themselves up about confronting George Galloway.

I warned them to stay cool and not start a row. In the event, which was not apparent to the viewers as the microphones were muted, they resorted to shouting and abuse.

This did their argument no good and Galloway easily won the day.

Jeff Best


Bad time for a show entitled ‘bad jews’

Dear Sir Could there be a worse time to see billboards advertising play called Bad Jews?

Disregarding any merit for its story, script or the ability of its actors, at a time when anti-Semitism is at a peak I never thought I’d see in the UK this is the last thing the Jewish community needs. I also thought it was ironic to see Jason Manford is to appear in The Producers.

The same person who said during the last Gaza conflict, “during the reconstruction of Germany in 1947 (the Allies ceded 25 percent of Germany to Poland and the Soviet Union.

Why, while doing this, didn’t they create a new country for the Jewish people?” Israel always loses the propaganda war but this is asking for trouble.

Russell Ballen By email

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