Letters: New anti-Semitism, or new alarmism?

These letters appear in the January 15 edition of The Independent

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As a practising orthodox Jew, I am beginning to wonder whether I am alone in not feeling uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK and not questioning whether it can be my home for many years to come (“The new anti-Semitism”, 14 January).

Yes, there is anti-Semitism in this country, just as there is Islamophobia, homophobia and gender inequality. Yet the media’s apparent need to portray the Jewish community as victims so enthusiastically is increasingly troubling.

Many Jewish people have forged successful careers in the UK and found their heritage to be absolutely no impediment. We have a government that supports faith schools, a Prime Minister who hosts a Chanukah party at his residence, a 20ft Chanukiah in Trafalgar Square, thriving synagogues, kosher restaurants, coffee shops and book stores.

Isn’t it time to focus a little more on celebrating the great things about the Jewish community rather than wallowing in a negativity that might well sell newspapers but cannot be healthy for the United Kingdom?

Shimon Cohen
London NW5


The current social discourse allows many British people to feel more comfortable admitting they don’t like Jews. But they never did. The monster of anti-Semitism had been subdued for a very long time, but it had never died nor lost strength, it just lost the ability to express itself.

UK Jews always knew it was there and felt its presence just under the surface, even as they were reluctant to talk about it or even admit it to themselves. The monster has been woken by the media’s unhealthy and unhelpful obsession with the Middle East conflict.

Killing the obsession would subdue the monster. Of course, the biased reporting that goes on is clearly a driver of anti-Semitism in the UK and elsewhere, in particular the depiction of moral equivalence between the sides for the sake of a better story, reluctance to call terror by its name, and the wholesale buying into the Hamas propaganda which demonises Israelis.

But that pales in comparison to the damage done by the sheer weight of attention to the issue. The media should simply stop reporting the Israel/Arab conflict so much, and report instead on many, many areas of the world where injustices are taking place on an exponentially larger scale. Too many causes have been overlooked, too many other critical issues ignored. At least, find another story to misrepresent!

The Palestinians will never make peace for as long as they know that they have the world’s attention. The day a deal is cut and the conflict is solved, and the Palestinians have a state, they would become as significant in world affairs as say, Micronesia.

Even if the discourse does change, of course many British people still won’t like Jews. But at least they might go back to keeping it to themselves.

Daniel Grodner
Tel Aviv


I was most confused recently to find a survey in my inbox, full of leading questions directing me to express fear about the growth of anti-Semitism and inviting me to agree that as a result my thoughts had turned to emigration to Israel. This struck me as odd, because Israel constantly promotes itself as a country surrounded by enemies, surely making Israel one of the least safe places for Jews.

Vigilance against anti-Semitism is important, but manufactured fear is in no one’s interests.

Diana Neslen
Ilford, Essex


Jonathan Fenby writes about anti-Semitism in France (8 January). There are regular attacks on religious establishments and amenities, physical attacks on those going about their daily lives.

Jews are victims in France daily and they are leaving the country in their droves. France will be Judenfrei before 2020 thanks to the Islamic terror campaign and the inertia of successive governments. This campaign is achieving what even the Nazis failed to do.

Wake up, Europe, before it’s too late.

Stephen Spencer Ryde
London N3


Your report that record numbers of British Jews are making aliyah to Israel should be viewed in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict. If Islamic anti-Semitism is driving Jews to leave Europe in increasing numbers, then a solution to Palestinian aspirations for an independent state will be far less likely to be realised.

As Israel has to accommodate many more immigrants from Europe, so the West Bank will be needed for new settlers. Where does that leave the prospect for an independent Palestine?

Peter Beyfus
Amesbury, Wiltshire


Muslims aren’t guilty by association

The brutal slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office was nothing but base criminality. But it was committed by three men, not a community – still less a religion. But the Muslim community as a whole is being charged with collective guilt by association.

I do not recall white Norwegians being asked by the media to scrutinise their values and beliefs in the same way following the murderous rampage by the neo-Nazi Anders Breivik in 2011, in which he murdered 77 young people. Such an argument would have been absurd. It is equally absurd to condemn millions of people because they happen to be the co-religionists of three brutal murderers.

Sasha Simic
London N16


A modest proposal to ensure community harmony in this country would be for the Government to issue a list of historical personages who may not be lampooned, caricatured or criticised, on pain of a fine for a first offence, imprisonment for a second and perhaps, especially if the infringement involved one of the more revered religious figures, for a third, death.

Your readers could doubtless add more to the list, but my suggestions would include Jesus, Mohamed, Guru Nanak, Buddha, Odin, Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher.

Nick Wray


Many of the British politicians who claim to support Charlie Hebdo in France are opposed to secularism in the UK. Thus we still have compulsory religious worship in state schools, discrimination against non-Christians (whether teachers or pupils) in those same schools, bishops in our legislature, and atheists banned from the BBC’s Thought for the Day. What hypocrisy!

Robin Paice
Southsea, Hampshire


Unfair trade for dairy farmers

When I go to a supermarket I can buy Fairtrade coffee, chocolate and wine. I am happy to support small-scale producers who receive a fair payment for their product. Their families and communities benefit and the producers have some protection from unmitigated market forces or unprincipled marketeers.

So, where can I shop for Fairtrade milk? There must be many of us who do not wish to be party to the destruction of the English dairy industry. We appreciate the contribution made by small-scale producers to our landscape and village communities. We value the welfare British cows enjoy and are dubious about the quality of foreign imports.

Not everyone is as fortunate as I am in having a milkman deliver fresh milk to my door. Despite being retired and therefore living on a restricted pension, I don’t begrudge a penny of the 89p per pint that I pay.

Elizabeth Flanagan
Malvern, Worcestershire


I’ve been worrying whether killing the aggressive “Nazi” cows was the right thing to do. After all, they were only obeying udders.

David Hinton
Bournemouth, Dorset


A chance to boost the tax take

The recent huge oil price fall has led to cuts in petrol and diesel prices. The UK’s fiscal deficit, at around £90bn per annum, remains vast; economists warn of the dangers of deflation caused by the oil price drop; and consumption of carbon-based fuels will grow.

Is this not a rare opportunity to increase tax revenues painlessly through raising fuel duties, by perhaps 10p per litre, thus shrinking the need for expenditure cuts, averting deflationary threats and reducing pollution? But perhaps the Government has not the courage to implement this “difficult choice”, despite its obvious desirability.

L Warwick-Haller
Botley, Hampshire


Where are the canal attack survivors?

I have no wish to sound cynical about the fate of the 61 people who have drowned in Manchester’s waterways (“Serial killer suspected after 61 bodies found in six years”, 13 January), but surely if there was a “pusher”, a significant number of people thrown into the water would have survived.

Being thrown into a canal is not a pleasant experience but it does not lead to certain death. The chances of having 61 deaths and no survivors are very low.

Michael O’Hare
Northwood, Middlesex