Letter: Jewish concern for all human suffering

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Sir: I care deeply. I care for the Shia and the Kurds, the Somalis and the Palestinian Arabs. I also care for the security of Israel and for the moral teachings of the Jewish tradition. These urge respect for the sensitivity of every individual human life, abhorrence of violence and cruelty, and help for all those in need.

I expressed in clear terms at a public meeting of the Board of Deputies of British Jews on 26 July my sense of outrage, shared by the entire board, at the reports of ethnic cleansing and the camps and transport trucks. This reflected the special feelings of Jews, many of whose memories must have been cruelly stirred by such reports.

At that meeting, the board approved a statement which: expressed concern and horror at the unfolding of the terrible tragedy taking place in the former Yugoslavia; condemned the intransigence of the differing fighting groups; expressed sorrow for all who suffered from the fighting; and appealed for support for all those involved in the delicate tasks of bringing relief to everyone suffering in the present situation.

Together with the Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief, the board has monitored on a daily basis the unfolding of events in Yugoslavia: we have spent much time and effort in negotiating arrangements for the evacuation of Jews and others from Sarajevo. I am a patron of UK Jewish Aid, which is making a major financial appeal on behalf of all the victims in Bosnia and Somalia.

Had I been able to do so, I would have joined Elie Wiesel on his recent attendances in London during the International Conference on Bosnia. I entirely associated myself and continue to do so with the noble sentiments that he uttered, and only a long-arranged public commitment elsewhere prevented me from being in his party.

What particularly saddened me about the (classified) advertisement ('Yes, I do care]', placed by Charles Mayorkas) that you chose to publish today was the resort to stereotype images which one would have hoped would not mar the formulation of public expression, essentially on matters of public moment. Indeed, it surprises me that a respectable newspaper should have published such a piece, even in the form of a paid advertisement.

Yours faithfully,

ISRAEL FINESTEIN

President

The Board of Deputies

of British Jews

London, WC1

7 September

The Independent regrets publication of the advertisement referred to above.

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