Letter: Obstacles to a Jewish `symbolic structure' on the streets of north London

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The Independent Online
Letter: Obstacles to a Jewish `symbolic structure' on the streets of north London

Sir: There are moral, social, legal and technical questions involved in the north London eruv proposal (Faith & Reason, 31 May).

Is it right for a street authority to grant a licence to anybody to mark out with poles and wires an area socially, religiously and racially mixed, so that a section of the population should be enabled to ameliorate the effects of its own strict rules of Sabbath observance?

The perimeter is 12.5 miles. The "symbolic boundary" is typically formed by the permanent structures of private homes. Where there is a gap in these structures, such as at road junctions, the boundary is made continuous by "gates" comprising two poles, one on each side of the street, each within 6in of the fence or wall of the adjacent property, the owner of which is called a "frontager". The poles support a wire strung across the road at a height of about 20ft.

Can this type of eruv be constructed without enabling legislation? Apart from the single case of war memorials (for which a special Act of Parliament was necessary) symbolic structures have never been allowed on the public highways.

Can the eruv be constructed without the effective consent of the 80 or so frontagers, who regard themselves as the primary victims of the proposal? Would an angry frontager who removed an unwanted pole from his boundary be a vandal or a civil rights demonstrator?

Behind Matthew Kalman's sneers at the "comfort-seeking residents of Hampstead Garden Suburb" lies the campaign to intimidate reasoned opponents by dubbing eruv opposition as anti-Semitic.


on behalf of a group of 29 Barnet residents

London NW11