March 31: Glass house

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Glass house
With regard to “US senator calls on Kerry to probe Israel for rights violations” (March 31), there is a word for the letter by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding Israel’s alleged human right violations: chutzpah.
Since 1976, the US has executed 1,431 people.
Israel has executed nobody. The US killed more people in the Vietnam War in 20 years, with estimates as high as three million, than have been killed on both sides of the Israeli/Arab conflict in 100 years. (It is estimated that 115,000 people have died in this conflict since 1915.) US policemen seemingly kill unarmed civilians on a regular basis, as riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, attest.
Sen. Leahy should stop throwing stones at us from his glass house.
British revival
Having made aliya from the UK some 14 years ago, I read with some interest (and relief) the opinion piece “The revival of British Jewry” (Comment & Features, March 27).
All those involved in maintaining and strengthening Jewish identity deserve the highest commendation, particularly in the Jewish day school movement, which labored for so long as the community’s “poor relation.”
However, I take issue over Leslie Wagner’s rather cautious approach to aliya, alleging that Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora requires a reexamination.
While he might be justified in suggesting that “Jewish lives” are currently under greater threat in Israel, “Jewish life” in Israel remains unequivocal – it was only from reading the inside columns of your newspaper that I realized it was Easter in the UK.
As the UK’s former chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, has often stated, a Jew has not been able to fulfill his duty until he has made aliya.
My attention has been drawn to Leslie Wagner’s “The revival of British Jewry.”
Prof. Wagner is right to point to the welcome increase in the attendance of Jewish children at taxpayer- funded Jewish schools in Britain. But he is wrong to attribute this in any way to the Jewish Continuity program.
Jewish Continuity, the brainchild of the thenchief rabbi of the United Synagogue, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, was launched in 1993. Three years later, it was dead. As I point out in British Jewry since Emancipation (2014), its failure was the result of a number of structural weaknesses: the lack of a concrete strategy; the lack of accountability; deficiencies in its monitoring and evaluation mechanisms; an obsession with its own image; and a seeming inability to build on the best practices to be found among already-existing institutions.
But overshadowing all these was Sacks’s comprehensive failure to persuade Orthodox donors to give money that might be used to fund non-Orthodox educational initiatives.
In 1996, Jewish Continuity had to be merged with the Joint Israel Appeal – i.e., it was killed off.
The major engine of change responsible for the astonishing growth of Jewish schooling in Britain has been the Huntingdon Foundation, launched in 1982 by businessman Benjamin Perl. Through the medium of the foundation, Mr. Perl has been responsible for the building and rebuilding of some 20 schools, mainly in London and South Hertfordshire, but also in Bournemouth and Manchester.
It is, by any yardstick, a remarkable achievement.
The writer is an acclaimed expert on the history of British Jewry and a professor at the University of Buckingham.
The article “Forging the future,” on Page 16 of today’s Jerusalem Post Magazine, includes an error. During the editing process, the word “vigilantism” was inserted instead of the word “vigilance” in the fourth paragraph, changing the meaning entirely. We regret the error.