A letter from former four-times Hackney Mayor Joe Lobenstein MBE is in the latest Hackney Gazette. In it he said he detected a "sinister motive" in Nigel Lewis's letter about Charedi Schools in Stamford Hill.
Whatever that sinister motive may have been, Lobenstein never pinned it down.
Instead, after listing Lewis' complaints about a Charedi "closed-shop" and "coup" Lobenstein justified his attack on Lewis with one point, that Charedi kids don't commit crime.
He said that a look at the figures would show "that not a single pupil of Charedi schools in Hackney has ever appeared before a juvenile court or has been accused of any vices which are unfortunately so rampant in society today."
By complete coincidence, just yesterday I was in touch with former Hackney blogger Ben Locker who wrote a piece about this particular argument back in 2007. I'm posting his full blog post on a separate page for future reference.
Back in 2007 Locker wrote: "I was astonished by the argument one person put forward that Stamford Hill has a miniscule crime rate, thanks to the Orthodox Jewish community: even going so far as to say “when did you last hear of someone mugged by an Orthodox Jew?” Apart from the fact that it ignores a problem with unrecorded crime in the Haredi community, what on earth has that got to do with planning law?"
His astonishment was not shared by another Hackney blogger and member of the Charedi community "The Shaigetz" who said: "I, sadly, am less astonished. I have been hearing that justification, in its various forms, since I was twelve. Our superior children do not take drugs, wear ripped jeans or sport nose piercings, therefore we should be allowed to …[fill in the blank]."
(More recently Charedi youths were not immune to benefiting from the recent riots and The Shaigetz had interesting observations on the subject of unrecorded crime )
Lobenstein wrote a piece in the Jewish Tribune in which he criticised Geoffrey Alderman for being rude about Charedi schools in Stamford Hill: "Mr Alderman must have been dreaming when he wrote that visiting the vicinities of Cranwich Road, Amhurst Park, Fairholt Road and Bethune Road, led him to believe that matters had turned ugly."
"Again, sheer and utter nonsense."
"I claim slightly superior knowledge over that of Alderman when describing Fairholt Road because I have lived there for approximately seventy years. The only school on Fairholt Road is St Thomas Abney School which belongs to the Church of England. No Jewish school is located in Fairholt Road."
Although he did mention "Planning application for the conversion of one local residence into a children's nursery is currently pending" I'm not sure if he was referring to Gur School at 85 Fairholt road which had already been running for more than six months with no planning permission.
In the same column - penned under the name Ben Yitzchok in the Jewish Tribune (May 2011 - pointed out to me by Geoffrey Alderman) - he also said: "Not a single school is operating without having obtained planning consent which invariably takes account of reaction of neighbours, traffic implications, health and safety regulations."
At the time the Gur school, in the road in which he lives, was operating without any of the above.
A couple of weeks ago the Hackney Gazette reported that the Gur school which got retrospective planning permission in July had failed to meet the conditions which came with it: "The council has since served several enforcement notices which have been ignored."
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