SIR ERIC PICKLES: WITHOUT JEWS, BRITAIN WOULD NOT TICK PROPERLY

March 23, 2018

Britain would be diminished if Jews began to leave the country, Sir Eric Pickles, the United Kingdom’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday during an interview at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Pickles was referring to a recent study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, which found that around 2% of British adults can be categorized as “hardcore” antisemites, and antisemitic ideas can be found at varying degrees of intensity across 30% of British society, with that number agreeing with at least one antisemitic statement about Jews.
“We need to address the casual acceptance of some of the old [antisemitic] tropes,” Pickles said. “I feel strongly about this because Judaism is a fundamental part of the British identity. If we were to see, as France has seen, Jews starting to leave the country, we would be diminished – we wouldn’t be Britain anymore. It’s not the old cliché about Jews being the ‘canary in the coal mine,’ it’s about what makes Britain tick – and without Jewish people, Britain would not tick properly.”
Pickles was in Israel to attend the sixth Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, held in Jerusalem from Sunday to Wednesday.
Pickles said that while there is a wave of antisemitism across Europe of which Britain is not immune, “it would be a gross exaggeration to say that Jewish people in Britain are unsafe.” He noted that while there has been a rise in antisemitic incidents, most of them are nonviolent.
However, he said, “we’re not a million miles away from what happened on the continent, and we have to ensure that our population is safe.”
The latest figures released by UK antisemitism watchdog the Community Security Trust found that the number of antisemitic hate incidents in the country reached a new high in 2017.
“We do have the courage to produce these figures, which a lot of countries don’t,” Pickles said.
With regard to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Pickles says that when asked whether he thinks he is an antisemite, his response was: “I have no idea, but he should stop surrounding himself with antisemites.”
He described the Chakrabarti report – which cleared the Labour Party of charges of institutional antisemitism – as a “disgrace,” and alluded to a documentary that is in the making about information that was allegedly repressed from the inquiry.
Pickles said the situation of the Labour Party is “deeply worrying” and stressed that he is a first-generation Tory, whose great-grandfather helped found the Independent Labour Party in Bradford. “So despite the fact that I’ve been a Tory for the last 50 years, I do have some attachment [to the Labour Party] and it’s heartbreaking,” he said.
“There is a big battle going on for the soul of the Labour Party, which the extreme Left seems to have won,” he lamented.
Pickles, who used to be the chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, noted that the group has a close relationship with Labour Friends of Israel. “They’re fighting a difficult battle,” he said.
Nonetheless, Pickles is optimistic: “We will beat the antisemites.”
Britain’s fight against antisemitism, includes millions of pounds that go into protecting Jewish institutions and events every year, Holocaust education on the national school curriculum and a plan for a new national Holocaust memorial, which will stand next to Parliament and is expected to be completed by 2022.
The article was published on The JPost

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COVID Diary- Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam, which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl
Diary March 18
Concerns about politics.
One of the prominent figures of the Jewish Netherlands, who is apparently occasionally tormented by the disease called jealousy, approached me with the comment that he had heard that I will be speaking next Sunday for the NIK on Zoom because of Pesach and expressed the hope that I would not speak about anti-Semitism again and would not have my message / lecture included with those Christians
Of course I don’t have to justify myself and I can do whatever I want, but it bothered me anyway. Because with “those Christians” professional recording equipment was available and “those Christians” were willing to make a good recording completely free of charge, I had made my NIK Hanukkah presentation with and by "those Christians". Some years ago I had received a similar comment, from that same person, about “those Christians” I needed to have less contact with them. I understand that setup. What I did not fully understand, however, was that the same critic then went to “those Christians” to ask for financial support for his, otherwise fine, projects.
Nothing new under the sun. I remember speaking to an eminent physician some time ago. This ‘eminence’, he told me personally, was not so much down to his expertise in his field, but as a much about his political qualities. No, he was not in politics, he was referring to politics at the top of his university hospital. When I heard a little bit of that politics I immediately thought of the rabbinic world! (Just kidding, because rabbis don't do politics!)
Because there is politics everywhere. Especially in the real and necessary democratic politics: The elections!
I haven’t been able to sleep all night. When I looked at the new composition of the House of Representatives, I was overcome with concern. I hope and pray that I misjudge it completely, but I fear it. Of course, there can be criticism of Israeli Politics, that does not have to be a sign of anti-Semitism.
But if there is only talk about Israel and not a word is mentioned about the feudal dictatorships of the countries around Israel, then I do not understand. I understand and accept that one of our prominent mayors in a speech at #MayorsAgainstAntisemtism claims that criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, as well as criticism of Rutte. But that’s not the problem. Criticism of Netanyahu is allowed, 50% of Israel criticizes him and that does not degrade them to anti-Semites. The problem is that there is almost exclusively criticism of Israel. That Israel is by far at the top of the list for UN Resolutions. The role of a mayor should be in trying to connect his townspeople, and that does not happen by importing sensitive foreign conflicts. Do I think this mayor is anti-Semitic? Absolutely not! Do I think this mayor should be allowed to criticize Netanyahu? Sure! But what I regret is that criticism of Israel unfortunately and often unintentionally leads to anti-Semitism.
How often am I not allowed to explain that I speak Dutch, although I am a Jew but not born in Israel. The superficial one-sidedness in the experience, however nuanced a mayor may present it, causes anti-Semitism here in our country. And so: if the mayor believes we should keep the Middle East problem out of the city, then criticize Israel, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, North Korea, China, on… and on…. But even better: let the mayor try to bind the various population groups within the city limits and call them to develop activities that unite together. And then, if connections and friendships have arisen, then, despite the diversity, the friendship itself can look at bottlenecks and differences of opinion that seemed unmentionable. Do you think that can succeed? Often not, but sometimes it does.
And sometimes I cherish that, because I have sometimes been able to experience this often!
And to the prominent Jewish Dutchman I would like to say: next week it is Pesach and Jews all over the world read the Hagadah, which describes the Exodus from Egypt at that time.And what do we read there about the present and now? “Because in every generation we are rebelled against us to destroy us” literally. And then the text continues and says that G-d will save us in the end. The Jewish people live and survive, but all kinds of things happen along the way. We must know, prevent and combat that, but not deny it! I hope that the new House of Representatives will want to fight that battle with us and will want to exercise vigilance.

Noah's Ark - A Global Lockdown, Reflections from Our Advisory Board Member Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs

Every Day during the Corona crisis our Advisory Board Member Chief Rabbi Jacobs (NL) writes a diary, on request of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam,  which is published on the website of the NIW, the only Jewish Dutch Magazine. Rabbi Jacobs is the head of Inter Governmental Relationships at the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. We will be regularly publishing a selection of his informative, sometimes light hearted, but always wise pieces.
This week in the Torah Portion we cover the story of Noah. Here, the Rabbi offers his unique and refreshing take on the portion. For our Dutch readers you can follow the diary every day at NIW home page: https://niw.nl and then: scroll down.
Noah's Ark - A Global Lockdown
At 8:10 am, its Shabbat and suddenly the power went out. That is always difficult, but especially on Shabbat because I cannot call a breakdown service (even if the phone would still work).
Water for coffee and tea in the Shabbat kettle was nicely turned on Friday evening before the start of Shabbat, the meal for Shabbat afternoon was simmering in the slow cooker… lighting, freezer and refrigerator, heating ..... Nothing worked anymore.
I went to the electrical box to see if the earth switch was to blame. But even if this had been the case, there was still little I could have done: Shabbat! And then my Reformatorisch Dagblad newspaper popped through the mailbox.
I immediately opened the door and reported my electrical problem to the delivery person.
They immediately understood the problem. "I'll check what's going on, because you can't do that because of Shabbat!" He immediately went into the electrical box, could not find anything out of the ordinary and then went to see if there were also problems elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Five minutes later he was back and told me the whole neighbourhood had no power. At that moment the light came on again. How happy I was with my Reformatorisch Dagblad, which not only brings the newspaper, but also the light!
And so I went with confidence to the synagogue where the beginning of Bereshit was read, including: Then God said, "Let there be light" and there was light! For a moment I felt that the self-evident is not always so self-evident!
Next Shabbat: the story of Noah. Before the outbreak of the flood, Noah was instructed by G-d to go into the Ark. And when it was dry outside he had to leave that Ark again.
Why, the question is asked, should he be ordered to leave the Ark? It was dry anyway! The answer contains an important life lesson. In the Ark there was an atmosphere of real Shalom, similar to the period after the arrival of the Moshiach, so he did not consider leaving the Ark. Why go into the world with all its worries and misery?
But G-d clearly pointed out that isolation from society is wrong. In that world with all its trials, we have the task to serve Him by making a contribution to the society surrounding us, even if closing off would be more pleasant for us personally. So, no Jewish monasteries!
But before the flood began, Noah was instructed to just enter the Ark and shut himself off from that world. Without wanting to compare corona with the Flood, there are times when we, you and I, have to be right in the middle of the world to be ready for others. But there are also periods when we are temporarily not allowed to go outside, social distance. How long do we have to stay in? We do not know.
But just as Noah did not protest and stayed in the Ark when he was required to do so, so too we must stay in, even if we find it difficult. It is too dangerous outside. We should not play with health. This coming Shabbat this will be emphasized extra in all shuls in the world. Noah Had to Enter the Ark: The First Global Lockdown!

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