April 1, 2018: New policy needed

Thoughts about the diaspora, British Labour and the Jews.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
New policy needed
In relation to “Diaspora Ministry: Millions around world with affinity to Judaism are ‘strategic asset’” (March 29), it is clear that the state has no current policy toward the “tens of millions of people around the world who have a connection to Judaism.”
One of the last such populations is the descendants of those Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity in Spain up to 500 years ago.
They are called Bnei Anusim in Hebrew. Estimates of the number of such people in the Spanish- Portuguese world are about 20 million.
Although they are not Jewish per se, many continue residual Jewish rituals in secret.
I recently wrote and published a book titled The Reawakening on specific individuals from this group who have in one way or another chosen to return to their ancestral Jewish roots.
It is past time that the State of Israel recognized this group and developed a definite policy toward it. This policy should include the establishment of conversion courses in Spanish and Portuguese in South America, the Iberian Peninsula and Israel; special visas to allow these people to stay and work in Israel while they take these courses; and recognition of their distinct nature by the Interior Ministry, just as it provided for Russian and Ethiopian Jews, and other marginally Jewish groups.
Labour and Corbyn
In your March 28 report on the protest meeting held in London (“‘Words no longer enough – we need action’”), you quote from an open letter from the umbrella organizations of British Jewry to Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK Labour party: “Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with antisemites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far Left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy.”
While I, of course, do not agree with any of its theses, I think the “logic” of the far-Left regarding Jews is derived from the following four propositions: 1. Zionism is racism, as declared by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 adopted on November 10, 1975. The resolution was revoked only in 1991 because of pressure by international Jewry, which works behind the scenes to achieve world domination.
2. Zionists distort the Holocaust by exaggerating the number of Jewish victims and ignoring non-Jewish victim, and then use this to whitewash Israel’s genocide of the native Palestinians.
3. Most Jewish groups support Zionism and vilify those Jews who have the courage to support the Palestinians. They also use accusations of antisemitism as a means for suppressing any criticism of the apartheid policies of the Israeli state.
4. Jews are not a race, so anti-racists can dislike them for the above reasons.
If this analysis is correct, the far-Left is clearly antisemitic and its socialism is, to all intents and purposes, of the “National” variety.
Salford, UK
I have been following the debate on antisemitism in Britain’s Labour Party and the accusations against party leader Jeremy Corbyn of harboring antisemitic sentiments (“Corbyn to Jews: I’m your ally,” March 27).
First, antisemitism is not a pressing issue for British Jewry only – it is pertinent to all faiths and communities in the UK and far beyond. Antisemitism, like Islamophobia, racism and religious bigotry, remains a stain on our human consciousness.
They all should be fought ferociously in public spheres beyond reasonable doubt, as they stoke the embers of hatred, communal discord and intolerance.
Second, Mr. Corbyn is not an antisemite. Also, we must make a clear distinction between any legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and the demonization and verbal or physical abuse directed toward Jews.
Yes, there are pockets of racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia in every political and even academic domain, but as Mahatma Gandhi put it, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Regarding “Labor tragedy” (Editorial, March 27), I believe praise should be given to those who organized the dignified and heavily attended demonstration at Parliament Square in London against the antisemitism in Britain’s Labour Party.
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s latest letter of apology to the Board of Deputies of British Jews is a smokescreen for his own blatant erring on the subject and total lack of action in kicking out the perpetrators within the party. Labour has now recognized that it has pockets of antisemitism – unfortunately, they appear to be very deep. To paraphrase its election slogan, we have many, not the few.
Immediate action is required to dismiss and clear out from the party all those guilty of antisemitism before any semblance of confidence can be restored that might start to satisfy British, as well as world, Jewry. Unfortunately, due to the captain’s ingrained prejudices and aforementioned lack of action, that ship might have already sailed.
Tel Aviv
Presence being felt
With regard to “Jewish students take the moral high ground at the University of Cape Town” (Comment & Features, March 28), the university recently made headlines on account of the UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum’s erecting in the center of the campus a large wall on which was painted the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as part of its Israel Apartheid Week activities.
Similar activities were conducted at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where pictures of Anne Frank, inappropriately adorned with a Muslim scarf, were displayed, accompanied by anti-Israel graffiti.
All this is part of a ploy to denigrate Israel and promote antisemitism, but the negative and hate-filled intentions do not stop there.
These institutions of higher education were, in the past, great universities, producing significant academics, scholars, scientists, doctors and Nobel Prize winners. Today, their hijacking by groups such as the UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum has caused a downgrading of their importance both in South Africa and internationally.
Comfort can be taken from the fact that members of the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) are standing up to make their presence felt and combating activities such as the above. Kol hakavod to them.
The South African-born writer spent 17 years lecturing in the two main colleges of education in Johannesburg.
Behavioral consequences Regarding “Changes in attitude” (Letters, March 28), reader Barry Lynn correctly points to the inefficiency of the police in enforcing traffic laws.
Several years ago, the driving in France was pretty hazardous. At some point, the police began stopping drivers who were speeding.
They then made them hand over their driver’s license and walk to the nearest police station! In addition, white markings were placed on the road at various intervals to show the desired space to be left between vehicles, thus reminding drivers not to tailgate. Probably other measures were also used.
The driving culture in France has noticeably improved. Drivers have become critically aware of punitive measures applied for dangerously breaking the law, which doubtless include severe fines.
Attitude change only follows behavioral consequences.
The question remains how to bring about, and perhaps reward, more effective police behavior.