Israel does not act for all Jews

<span>Thousands take part in a pro-Palestine march in central London on 17 February 2024.<br></span><span>Photograph: Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Thousands take part in a pro-Palestine march in central London on 17 February 2024.
Photograph: Vuk Valcic/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

As a British Jew, rising antisemitism is worrying. I remember it at school in London, and as an adult it can feel awkward when talking about my heritage to people I don’t know (“The scale of antisemitism blights our politics and our country”, Editorial).

I acknowledge that your article points to this rise before 7 October, but a conversation about the effect of Israel’s actions in Gaza is also vital. Israel murders children daily and simultaneously claims it acts in the interest of all Jews globally.

The current rhetoric makes me – a Jewish man whose descendants fled persecution in Europe – question for brief moments whether my anti-Zionism means that I myself am antisemitic. This paranoia and conflation is exactly what Israel would want me to feel, but I refuse.

We must be loud when we say that no one group owns what it is to be Jewish. At a recent demonstration for Palestine, I marched with my dad and my toddler. Our sign read, “This Jewish grandad, son & granddaughter stand with Palestine & against the genocidal apartheid state of Israel”. So many people came and thanked us for our message – many said how reassured they felt, Muslim and Jewish people among them. It is moments like that when the narrative of what it means to be Jewish feels like it hasn’t been completely stolen.
Toby Stone
London, N7

Who will stand up to Russia?

Simon’s Tisdall is correct that Europe’s future will be determined by the actions of our politicians (“Poland is again threatened by a tyrant. This time, Europe must not look away”, Comment).

While it is feasible that Europe could build up armed forces to a size that would discourage any Russian expansionism, the current uninspiring political leadership does not make this a likely happening.

In 1936, Stanley Baldwin, the Conservative prime minister and leader of the national government, knew that Britain needed to rearm in the face of the German threat, but that to do so would mean raising taxes, which he thought would cost him the election. Baldwin’s thinking dominates British politics today, one that sees the greatest threat from internal enemies, not external ones.

The Conservatives are the party of the upper middle class, a class that prides itself on being the concierge to the world’s wealthy. They would eagerly adapt to a Europe in thrall to Russia, if it meant Russian money came flooding back to London. I suspect the same sort of realists in Europe control decision making. Consequently, I have no confidence in them coming up with a credible deterrence.
Derrick Joad

Still paying the bill for Brexit

Both Will Hutton (“The first step to our economic liberation is to tear up these crippling fiscal rules”, Comment) and William Keegan (“The Tories’ tax plans are absurd. When will Labour be brave enough to say so?”, Business & Cash) make reference to the alarming Goldman Sachs report that indicates that Brexit has already reduced our GDP by 5%.

Cambridge Econometrics forecasts that by 2035 the Brexit loss to the economy will be 10%. Although it is evident that Brexit is firmly off the agenda during the general election campaign, very soon afterwards the disastrous course on which we are set needs to be honestly and openly recognised and addressed by the incoming government.
David Newens
Milton Keynes

Censorship is a slippery path

As someone whose early career in the arts was during the time of the Lord Chamberlain’s influence, I was pleased to read Sonia Sodha’s article (“Meet the modern-day censors, wielding their purse-strings over artists and their work”, Comment). In the 20th century, the Lord Chamberlain’s office ceased to exercise political censorship and concentrated on sexual content – especially in works such as John Osborne’s A Patriot for Me, from which it demanded an act be excised. I was assistant director on the production at the Royal Court and Osborne, and theatre staff had long exchanges with the ex-military personnel who ran the Lord Chamberlain’s office. The play’s performance was only made possible in 1965 by establishing the Royal Court as a club.

The danger is that fear of causing offence is creating a miasma of self-regulation, culturally and politically. This is the first step on the stairway to the dungeons of suppression.
Gordon McDougall
Clevedon, Somerset

A rhapsody on jazz

Accusations of cultural appropriation are deeply divisive, usually ideologically motivated and obscure the complex threads that lead to artistic movements. Kenan Malik’s article highlights the cultural complexity that gave birth to jazz and American popular music (“A century on from Rhapsody in Blue, debates about cultural ‘theft’ still rage”, Comment, last week).

Jazz is a hybrid of African and European music and wouldn’t exist without both. Within the genre, different styles emphasise different aspects, but, ultimately, jazz is a symbol of racial cooperation, not division. As Malik points out, the real racism lies in the fact that most African American musicians of the 1920s through to the 1960s were denied the financial success of their white counterparts, an issue of class as much as it is of race.
Paul Cavaciuti
Epsom, Surrey

All change at Working

The map of the newly rebranded London Overground is a reminder that the capital benefits hugely from a sophisticated transport system (“Lioness, Liberty, Suffragette, Weaver… whoops, you’ve missed your stop”“ ‘Take the Windrush, then change on to the Suffragette’: onboard the renamed London Overground lines causing controversy”, News, last week). Outside the capital, I have family and friends who face uncertainty, frustration, delays and cancellations just trying to get to work. None care whether a line is called Liberty or Lioness. They just want one called Working.
Toby Wood
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

How about this weather?

Your report mentions the weather as being “the mainstay of casual conversation” (“Perfect storm for small talk as forecasters close in on long range accuracy”, News). The Germans, as ever, have the perfect word for the primarily English need to fill the awkward silences that sometimes appear in conversation with meaningless, empty words: Floskel. I will rejoice if this pointless burbling ceases.
Pete Lavender
Woodthorpe, Nottingham