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Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish communities of Greater Manchester

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Mark Guterman praises our work and explains why it is essential

Posted 25 September 2019. Supplement added 14 October 2019.

Since we added our website page “Jewish Telegraph article about Afzal Khan CBE MP” on 5 August 2019, every issue of the Jewish Telegraph has carried one or more letters about us.

Most of the correspondence has not been of enduring long-term interest, so we have not bothered adding it to our website.

However, we were very pleased when Mark Guterman copied us with a letter he had sent to the Jewish Telegraph. That is reproduced below. For those who do  not know him, Mark is a good friend of the Forum and the elder son of our late Co-Founder Henry Guterman MBE.

Mark Guterman’s letter as sent to Jewish Telegraph

I write in response to last week’s letter from Raphi Bloom accusing the Muslim Jewish Forum of hypocrisy. I find it frustrating and ignorant that Mr bloom attacks an organisation even though he has never attended one of their events.

My late father, Henry Guterman co-founded the Forum with the Lord Mayor at the time, Afzal Khan. 

My father was a communal figure and a survivor from Nazi Germany. He always stated that we had to keep our dialogue open.  He was fully aware that we can’t agree the politics in the Middle East, but we can try and understand how Jews and Muslims can respect each other and live together in harmony, which is the whole basis of interfaith work.

The Forum has done great work over the years, enhancing empathy between our two communities; campaigning to retain religious animal slaughter; condemning desecration of religious cemeteries; educating young people in schools and much more. It has been recognised nationally and internationally for its efforts and achievements.

Afzal Khan has apologised for stupidly sharing an antisemitic video on Facebook in 2015, saying he was, “…mortified and sincerely sorry about this genuine accident.” He has made other errors and is clearly not a fan of Israel, but he is not an antisemite either.

His actions as co-founder of the Muslim Jewish Forum, supporting the establishment of the North Manchester Eruv, work to pass a European Parliament resolution calling on EU Member States and their institutions to adopt and apply the IHRA definition of antisemitism, support for Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations and more show he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

As British Jews, many of us do not agree with our own government never mind the Israeli government.  In a world of increasing polarisation, we need to bring people together, not break them apart. We need to support all interfaith organisations, not abuse them.

Mark Guterman

Letter as printed by the Jewish Telegraph 20 September issue

We were disappointed that the Jewish Telegraph drastically abridged Mr Guterman’s letter when publishing it, thereby losing many of Mr Guterman’s key messages. That is why we have published the original text above.

INTERFAITH NEED

IN response to last week’s letter from Raphi Bloom accusing the Greater Manchester Muslim Jewish Forum of hypocrisy, I find it frustrating and ignorant that Mr Bloom attacks an organisation even though he has never attended one of their events.

My late father, Henry Guterman, co-founded the Forum with the Lord Mayor at the time, Afzal Khan. My father was a communal figure and a survivor from Nazi Germany. He always stated that we had to keep our dialogue open.

He was fully aware that we can’t agree on the politics in the Middle East but we can try and understand how Jews and Muslims can respect each other and live together in harmony.

The Forum has done great work over the years, enhancing empathy between our two communities; campaigning to retain religious animal slaughter; condemning desecration of cemeteries and educating young people in schools.

It has been recognised nationally and internationally for its efforts and achievements. In a world of increasing polarisation, we need to bring people together, not break them apart.

We need to support all interfaith organisations, not abuse them.

Mark Guterman,
Bowdon,
Cheshire.

Letter from Co-Chair Heather Fletcher in same Jewish Telegraph issue

While creating this website page, we concluded that readers would appreciate seeing the letter below, which was printed in the same issue.

NEWSPAPER BIAS

WHILE I appreciate it is usual for newspapers to take their own slant regarding political parties, I do consider that the Jewish Telegraph has been too biased with its take on two issues recently.

Firstly, regarding the Muslim Jewish Forum, which I have been associated with both as the secretary and co-chairman for 14 years.

It is a difficult task to please both communities and take into account all views on all aspects of our cultures and faiths and even harder given the fact there are many diverse views within the two communities themselves.

However, we have tried our best and many people did not think we would get off the ground. But we are still here after 14 years and in that time we have organised 115 diverse events for the communities to mix together and also won two national awards.

Secondly, regarding the Labour Party, I feel it is necessary to redress the balance.

While it is true that antisemitism has been allowed to grow and fester in the past four years, the vast majority in Labour uphold solid views and are vehemently against antisemitism.

I have been a Labour member for 10 years and in that time I have encountered no antisemitism directed against me from Manchester, Bury or Salford Labour members.

In the three years that I have worked for Salford City Council, my Salford Labour colleagues have shown great interest in the Jewish culture.

They brought the IHRA definition on antisemitism motion to the council, which was adopted unanimously.

They attend all Holocaust Memorial Day events, and the Broughton and Kersal councillors for many years have supported the Jewish community in their wards on varied issues.

My Salford Labour colleagues have been very supportive and caring to me in the past couple of years when I encountered personal problems, and some attended the shiva house for my late father.

(Councillor) Heather Fletcher,
Salford,
Manchester.

Supplement: Letter from Heather Fletcher in Jewish Telegraph 4 October

After the letters above, the following week the Jewish Telegraph published another letter from a Mr Ryan Parker. (Not reproduced here for copyright reasons.) That led Co-Chair Heather Fletcher to respond.

Her letter was published in the 4 October issue, and below her letter the Editor announced that the correspondence was now closed.

ACTIVE FORUM

ALTHOUGH I feel that all the correspondence regarding the Greater Manchester Muslim Jewish Forum has become protracted, the answer to Ryan Parker’s question requires a short reply.

He states: “Why does the Forum not host interfaith competitions that bring people together like football or any other social events?

The Forum has, in fact, organised two large football tournaments for Jewish and Muslim boys in 2008 and 2013.

Also, it has organised 13 picnics, 12 iftars (after-the-fast meals), eight festive parties, four quizzes and two large concerts which have certainly encouraged Jews and Muslims to mix together in a happy, social environment.

We at the Forum are always looking to organise different sorts of events to bring the two communities together and would listen to suitable suggestions.

(Councillor) Heather Fletcher,
Salford,
Manchester.

* This Correspondence is now closed — Editor

 

 

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The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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