Where is ‘golden age’?
JNF UK chair Samuel Hayek put the proverbial cat among the pigeons by having the temerity to question whether Anglo-Jewry has a future.
Indeed, for the UK communal bodies to suggest in response that the British Jewish community is going through ‘a golden age’ and to state that the diaspora communities “have undergone a renaissance” – as Jonathan Goldstein, the outgoing chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, puts it – is nothing short of farcical.
If it is as healthy as Mr Goldstein believes and has such “a strong future”, as Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, maintains, then perhaps they can both explain why it is that over the past 56 years, the UK Jewish population has fallen from 410,000 (in 1955) to a mere 270,000 in 2011, as per the most recent census, a decline of 34 percent.
By comparison, over a similar period, ie between 1900 and 1955, the Jewish population grew by 82 percent.
The true decline in this country’s Jewish population is, therefore, very much steeper than the base numbers show.
And although the community should indeed be immensely grateful to the Community Security Trust for all its efforts in seeking to keep us all safe, what exactly does it say for our safety in this country that necessitates its existence and, according to its chief executive Mark Gardiner, the millions spent to do so?
I am sorry to be the party pooper, but Anglo-Jewry is actually in a woeful state, whether the cause of that is external factors, as Mr Hayek rightly or wrongly suggests, or internal factors, as these statistics clearly show.
Daniel Anderson, New Southgate
I was shocked to read Richard Kafton’s letter endorsing Samuel Hayek’s view that we have no future in this country owing to Muslim immigration (Jewish News, 7 January 2022).
I’m used to reading a wide spread of views in your newspaper, many of which I find disagreeable, but I didn’t realise that Mr Hayek had cheerleaders willing to put their name to such a preposterous and, in my view, ignorant point of view.
Mr Kafton would be wise to think twice before endorsing such bigotry again.
Emma Shafton, By email
Last week’s lead Jewish News article suggested that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis contests the claim by JNF UK’s chairman Samuel Hayek that there is no future for Jews here in the United Kingdom.
On closer reading, the Chief Rabbi actually objected to the insensitive comments concerning Muslim immigration.
Although he has a vested interest, surely the Chief Rabbi must concede that the scourge of antisemitism and increasing assimilation means the future for the Jews of Britain eventually lies only in one place – our homeland.
David Freeman, EN5
Disagree, don’t cancel
I sympathise with the predicament of JNF UK chairman Samuel Hayek to some extent. He told Jewish News recently that as a result of Muslim immigration “maybe in 10 years, maybe less”, Jews would no longer be able to live in here the UK.
While I totally disagree with his view that Jews will have no place here, Mr Hayek does not seem to be inciting violence against Muslims by saying this and, like everyone else, he is entitled to state his personal opinions.
I don’t believe he is guilty of the accusation of being Islamophobic. Rather, he is concerned Jews will be on the receiving end of antisemitism perpetrated by some Muslim immigrants, as has been the case in Germany and in France, for example, with truly disastrous consequences.
It is indeed true that antisemitism in the UK comes from a variety of places. It is found in people on the left as well as on the right – and it’s true also that in Muslim communities, some people (and I do mean some, not all) hold entrenched anti-Jewish views.
Just like in some UK Jewish communities, some people hold anti-Muslim opinions. How is it Islamophobic to say this when even many Muslims agree this is the case?
Mr Hayek doesn’t deserve to be cancelled for his concern about UK Jewish life. We are all free, of course, to disagree with him.
Michael Fredericks, By email
The excellent letter by Richard Kafton in defence of Samuel Hayek’s comments was based on verifiable and indisputable historical facts. Being able to express an opinion, provided it isn’t an incitement to hatred, is the hallmark of a free society.
The reaction to it on Twitter by Na’amod, the ‘anti-occupation group’, and Rabbi Gabriel Kanter-Webber, rabbi at Brighton Liberal Synagogue, represents an attempt to threaten Jewish News and our community and silence views they don’t agree with under a veneer of confected anti-racism.
Na’amod wrote: “This lays bare the connections between Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism. The decision to publish is inexcusable.” Kanter-Webber opined: “How can Jewish News justify this incitement?”
Silencing the free flow of opinion is totalitarianism, in this case posing as the majority view instead of the fringe ideology it is.
Dovid Rosenthhal, Hendon
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