Shanah Tovah U’metuka: St John Vianney Church Tottenham and #antisemitism 5779

This is an email exchange I had with “St John Vianney Parish Community” (emphasis added by me to their emails). “Liberal” antisemitism has been so embedded in the UK for the last 20 years or more as to virtually go unnoticed. Certainly its perpetrators would assume – rightly – that it would normally go unchallenged. At least the brave few now standing up to Labour and its antisemitic leader have managed to expose leftist “pro-Palestinians” for the racists they are.

4 Jun 2018 

Dear Sir/Madam

Yesterday I went by your parish hall and saw a Free Palestine poster on display. I remember this as being there several years ago and assume it has been displayed continuously. As a Jew, I am perturbed as to why your church would do this. It suggests, intentionally or by neglect,  a one-sided view of what is a complex geopolitical issue. And indeed, one that is used by anti-Semites of the left and Islamists, to promote hatred of Jews and murderous attacks on them in Israel and beyond. Given that your church is close to the Stamford Hill Orthodox Jewish community (and certainly on bus routes used by many of its members), this shows a blatant disregard for the integration and tolerance of which your mission statement speaks. I would ask you therefore to remove this poster, or alternatively  to display an equally large Zionist poster alongside it. Yours faithfully

Philip Israel Witriol

13 Jun 2018 

Dear Sir/Madam

I have not had a reply or even acknowledgement to my email below – I have therefore now sent my email to Jewish communal organisations dealing with antisemitism for their information.

14 Jun 2018 

Dear Mr Witriol

In response to your email of 13 June 2018, sorry, our inbox shows that we did not receive your email on 4 June 2018, having gone back and checked our inbox records. Yes, the poster has been on display for a number of years. Looking at the situation in Gaza and the taking over of Palestinian land in Israel doesn’t seem right, so we need to keep this message in the public domain, with a view that justice for all may be achieved in the future. We find the antisemitism ‘ticket’ is wearing very thin. I assure you that we at St John Vianney Church are concern with Human Rights and Justice for all.

Yours sincerely

St John Vianney Parish Community

PS: Sorry the key to display cabinet is currently missing.

14 Jun 2018 

Dear Church Community

Thank you for your unsigned response which I take to represent the views of all your congregation. Based on this answer, I am now much clearer as to your views and will forward your reply to appropriate organisations that focus on antisemitism.
Regards
Philip Israel Witriol

15 Jun 2018 

Dear Mr Witriol

Thank you for your email dated 14 June 2018. We are very impressed that you plan to send our reply to the appropriate organisations that focus on antisemitism. If we are to continue this discuss I would ask you to come to speak to us face to face and have a dialogue so that we can come to a better understanding of where we stand. If this dialogue is not possible, I would appreciate if no further emails are sent to this email. I thank you for your consideration. Yours sincerely

St John Vianney Parish Community

17 Jun 2018 

Dear St John Vianney Parish Community

I am replying to your previous email. Like the first email it switches between we and I, but based on the tone and content, I assume the author is the same individual, and that you (singular) are replying on behalf of the St John Vianney Parish Community – or claim to do so. For this reply, please regard it as addressed to the individual author. You first stated that you “find the antisemitism ‘ticket’ is wearing very thin” and now that you “are very impressed that [I] plan to send [your] reply to the appropriate organisations that focus on antisemitism”. Clearly this attitude and tone makes me feel that your church (as represented by you) is not a safe and welcoming space for a Jew concerned with your Free Palestine poster. I cannot consider a face to face dialogue when you have made your view on antisemitism and Israel so plain.You say that you would “appreciate[it] if no further emails are sent to this email“. I have no choice but to send this to reply.I certainly will now refrain from further email correspondence directly with you (and would also appreciate it if no further emails are sent to this email from you), while reserving the right to copy you in to any replies I get – from Jewish and other organisations – for your information.
With many thanks. Yours sincerely

Philip Israel Witriol

PS: I too am sorry “the key to the display cabinet is currently missing” –  I trust you will be able to find a local locksmith who can resolve this if the key is not found soon.

 

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