Melanie Phillips’s “Antisemitism engulfs the British Labour Party” (As I See It, September 29) is regrettable.
The Labour Party Conference is attended by, at most, 3,000 delegates from a membership of over 600,000, who therefore represent less than 0.5% of the party. The party’s activists mostly attend and are frequently the most extreme in their opinions, but are not necessarily representative.
Because of the antisemitism they express (which incidentally is quite common in other political parties), Ms. Phillips asserts that people like myself are doing the Jewish people and the State of Israel a disservice by continuing our Labour membership. Like many of my co-religionists, I remain inside the party as a proud Jew and Zionist because that is the best way to influence our opponents.
Your readers might be interested to learn that I seldom need to speak on behalf of Israel in the House of Lords because so many non-Jewish Labour members there are first on their feet to show support for Israel.ROBERT WINSTON
London The writer is a Labour politician and sits in the House of Lords.
Melanie Phillips’s column is an insult to the intelligence of a thinking reader.
Members of the Labour Party – many millions in number – have, according to Ms. Phillips, been “engulfed” in antisemitism. Perhaps she meant the just the few thousand delegates at the Labour Party Conference.
The three instances she cites as having caused the “engulfment” are the remarks by a Holocaust denier at a fringe meeting, an anti-Zionist calling for two groups to be expelled from the party, and a lady who opposes the policy of the present Israeli government. As a result of these three, the whole party has become antisemitic.
Ms. Phillips is also columnist for The Times. I wonder if her editor there accepts the kind of hysterical drivel.
Only an individual can be antisemite or anti-Zionist. It is a personal decision – in which case it is time to stop trying to hang these labels on the Labour Party or any other party.NICK REYNOLD
Hadera Muddled minds
With regard to Yaakov Katz’s “A spymaster’s Iranian dilemma” (Editor’s Notes, September 29), I marvel at Israel’s continuing existence for a number of reasons.
One is some of the past heads of the Mossad, Efraim Halevy and the late Meir Dagan among them.
For Halevy to give Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif something approaching credibility is awesomely ridiculous.
There may be “great minds,” past and present, in the Mossad, but there is little common sense, nor an ability to learn from history. I can only be grateful that portions of their views and recommendations were seemingly lost in transit or rejected outright by the clearer minds of prime ministers.
If their time in the Mossad were unknown, they would be seen as far less credible and deserving of the “air time” fawned on them.
I find it most strange that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif – a man who throughout the Iran treaty talks, for which he served as Iran’s chief negotiator, repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction – has the hypocrisy, if not sheer gall, to talk about a “global village.”
Useless blather Is there any hope that someone can tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop with the useless blather (“Netanyahu: Israel expects Abbas to condemn, not justify, deadly attack,” September 27) while Hamas praises the Har Adar shooter of Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said “I salute our martyrs” recently at the UN? Abbas knows he is onto a good thing, with Netanyahu being afraid to allow him and his terrorist organization to collapse, which it has been on the verge of doing many times. He knows the desperation of Netanyahu not to declare sovereignty throughout the Jewish land, and sees the humiliation he is prepared to accept on the Temple Mount.
As for “Shin Bet: Attacker had family problems, was left by his wife,” which appeared in the same edition, are we supposed to feel sympathy for this monster who killed three people? It would seem so with the sympathetic write up.
We even have Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan telling us that Nimr al-Jamal “did not have a ‘past’ of security-related offenses.”
So what? Does that make it any better for the families of the dead men and for the others who will follow when the next Nimr al-Jamal becomes unhappy? When will it be enough before people come to their senses and see how dangerous the policy of concessions and surrender is?
Speaking as someone who has been monitoring the kaparot ritual for over 20 years, I must take issue with your inaccurate description (“Atone for your sins,” September 27).
Most people yank the chickens by the wings or legs and swing (not wave) them around their head or someone else’s. I have seen men grab three chickens at once to swing around the head of their pregnant wife, one hen for the woman, and a rooster and hen for coverage of both a male and female fetus. When children are upset hearing the chickens crying, parents tell them they are “singing” because they are “happy to do this for us.”
How rational is it to believe that sins can be transferred to something else prior to Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, in a ritual that is not mentioned in the Torah or Talmud? How arrogant of us to believe that someone or something else should die for our sins. Are we emulating Christianity? Are these Jesus chickens? Furthermore, regardless of what practitioners are told, most of these poor chickens (many of which die before the ritual for lack of water, food and protection from the elements) are thrown directly into the garbage.
Yes, they go to the poor – the poor worms, the poor flies and the poor ants.
New York The writer is an RN and founding member of the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos.
In “Early detection, exercise reduce risk of breast cancer” (September 27), Judy Siegel fails to consider the most important cause of this widespread disease: the consumption of meat and other animal-based foods.
In his splendid book Save Yourself from Breast Cancer: Life Choices that Can Help You Reduce the Odds, long time breast cancer surgeon Robert M. Kradjian analyzes many peer-reviewed articles in respected medical journals related to epidemiological studies, migration studies, animal experiments, wartime studies, and others to conclude that reducing the consumption of meat and other animal products is the best way to prevent breast cancer.
Such a life-style change has the added benefit of reducing the risk of other types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke and other life-threatening diseases.
Roman footprint Reader Bill Halsey (“History lesson,” Letters, September 24) has some unusual theories. He writes that the Romans never conquered the British.
Every schoolboy or girl in Britain learns that Julius Caesar conquered Britain in 55 BC. Among the remains the Romans left behind are roads and milestones, the Roman baths in Bath, Hadrian’s Wall in the North, and cities that retain the memory of Roman rule in their names.DONYA MEIJER