17 February 2011
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Jewish Mourning Customs
Julie Neuberger who does not adhere to the Jewish Dietary Laws cannot claim to be a female Rabbi.
How she prays is her business and it was incorrect to cite the rulings pertaining to women reciting the Mourners Prayer in the Jewish communal rite. Two letters have appeared in your columns in recent days regarding the various rulings in this connection, but given the Jewish community is less than 0.5 percent of the UK population, one does not comprehend the point being made as it is of no concern or interest to the general public. No similar analysis is made of any other minor minority religious group. Furthermore, the story of the apparent non-Jewish footballers playing in a Jewish football league that appeared in yesterday’s edition is really another example of putting the Jewish community under the microscope as a follow-on from doing the same to Israel.
However, when numerous letters have been sent to be considered for publication by members of the Jewish community regarding the interview the Foreign Secretary Hague gave to The Times last week regarding Israeli government statements, not one letter has appeared. Even eminent Rabbis letters regarding this issue are treated with contempt (see enclosed).
However, The Times considers it is acceptable to publish letters regarding Jewish rite whose proper home is on the pages of the Jewish Chronicle. Perhaps there are too many Court Jews involved with The Times.
It would appear that you consider fair game to bash Jews and Israel but for decades have remained silent on the human rights abuse perpetrated by evil dictatorships in Arab countries, as well as their racism.
"William Hague and Israel's belligerence"
A few weeks ago I quipped to a friend that, somehow or other, a way would be found to lay the blame on Israel for all the upheaval in the Middle East. Your screaming headline ("Hague tells 'belligerent' Israelis to soften line", Feb 9)) did not, therefore, come as any surprise. The Foreign Minister has, most unworthily, latched on to the age-old scapegoat and, single-handedly, fanned the Middle Eastern flames and further encouraged Israel's enemies.
At a time of widespread conflict all around the Middle East, and with so many victims of state brutality, the mind of our Foreign Minister is focused primarily upon "the belligerent language" of Israel's Prime Minister! He also takes exception to the latter's quite legitimate call to his people to "prepare for any outcome" and his vow to "reinforce the might of the State of Israel". Given the political maelstrom surrounding Israel, any Prime Minister who did not take such measures would surely be remiss in his duty.
The sooner the popular, yet bitterly misleading and ironic, references to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as 'The Middle East conflict' or 'The Middle East peace process', are discarded, the better it will be. They are a disingenuous diversion, whose objective is to obfuscate the true source of all the wider 'Middle Eastern' problems, a source that lies at the heart of the demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt.
Dr Jeffrey M Cohen