April 6: Jewish and uneasy in Britain today

We are an important element of society, but it is becoming increasing uncomfortable for us and anti-Israel activity is used as a surrogate for anti-Semitism.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
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Jewish and uneasy... Sir - To this British Jew currently on holiday in Israel, the comments by Tom Phillips and Henry Grunwald, while unquestionably accurate, missed the point about being openly Jewish in British society today ("British Jews are free from fear " and "We're alright, Professor Wistrich," April 3). We are an important element of society, but it is becoming increasing uncomfortable for us and anti-Israel activity is used as a surrogate for anti-Semitism. Ask Jewish university students how they feel. A significant increase in the activities of Muslim students has made life difficult even at previously "middle-class" universities such as Nottingham. To pray in synagogue, we require security guards every week. When recently in St. Petersburg, we entered an unguarded synagogue, and when I asked our Russian guide how this was possible, she wondered how a Western democratic government could believe it appropriate for its citizens to require security guards in order to pray. Life for Jews in Britain is not yet as difficult as in France, but we are on the same slippery slope ("Anti-Semitic violence chases Jews from Paris suburbs," April 3). The relatively non-confrontational approach our leaders take may not serve us well in the medium term. STEPHEN DAVIS London ...in Britain today Sir - These commercials for British Jewry made interesting reading, but I suspect this is exactly what they are - commercials. In any advertising campaign we are always told how wonderful the product is. I really wonder, who's kidding who? Through my contact with friends and acquaintances I have learned that life in Britain is not as rosy as painted in these articles, and that many British Jews have decided to better their situation. They have either already moved here or are in the process of moving. I am not talking about the holiday homes being bought, for example, in Netanya, but about homes being acquired for building a new life here. According to the UK Community Security Trust (CST) report of 2007, there is an ongoing upward trend in the number of anti-Semitic incidents. Is this freedom from fear, Ambassador Phillips? STUART PALMER Haifa You recognized us, but support our foes Sir, - Ambassador Petr Stegniy's "Right of Reply" was dignified, as befits his profession, but the situation demands a more blunt approach ("We just want to help make peace," April 2). If the ambassador senses skepticism about Russian overtures for peace in the region, he should appreciate that there is a long legacy of Russian support, both covert and overt, for Israel's enemies. Russia's one true and sincere gesture was to recognize Israel in 1948; but since then, to this day, there has been unabated support for our enemies, including support for Teheran's nuclear program and supplying it with the latest anti-aircraft missiles. Our boys were killed in the second Lebanon War by the latest Russian anti-tank missiles supplied to Syria. I think it was a little facile of the ambassador to say he is concerned about the 1.5 million Jewish Russian speakers in Israel. Yes, indeed, why can't we all just get along? FRED SPILKIN Herzliya Essence of a state is sovereignity Sir, - "In order to survive, we must rely on the active help of others," Amnon Rubinstein stated in "The folly at Givat Ze'ev" (March 26). The essence of a state - the legal definition - is that it is sovereign: independent. A dependent state, by definition, does not exist. Israel can and must defend itself without interference from others. Advice like Prof. Rubinstein's weaken Israel's position, and that is bad for Israel and for the rest of the non-Muslim world. JOHAN RHODIUS Haarlem, Netherlands Vital organs Sir, - Re "Why the new law is no cure for the shortage of organ donations" (Calev Ben-David, March 25): Thousands of individuals waiting for transplants have died through the years because the law forbids the sale of human organs. But if the law acknowledges our right to give away an organ, it should also acknowledge our right to sell an organ. And if the law recognizes our right to pay for a life-saving medical treatment, it should also recognize our right to pay for a life-saving organ for transplant. Individuals able to pay for organs would benefit at no one's expense but their own. Those unable to pay would still be able to rely on charity, as they have done to this day. If potential buyers and sellers of organs had their legitimate rights protected, many of the thousands of individuals now waiting for organ transplants would avoid terrible suffering and an early death. How many? Let's find out. DAVID HOLCBERG Ayn Rand Institute Irvine, California Essential history Sir, - Bravo to Yisrael Medad for bringing to our attention the historical facts in his informative letter outlining the true status of the "West Bank" ("You can't 'occupy' your own home," April 4). Very few people are aware of these facts. Many more, including our leaders, do not wish to know. JOYCE KAHN Petah Tikva Contradiction in terms? Sir, - Congratulations to Ruthie Blum on her interview with a future prime minister of Israel - if only he would make aliya! Finally, a politician who is also a mensch ("'Israel is not a sovereign state,'" April 3). EPHRAIM BEN-ZEEV Efrat