20 FEBRUARY 1959, Page 22

THE MIDDLE EAST SIR,—The trouble is that Miss Slec belongs

to that familiar group of English middle-class ladies who so romanticise the Arab that they will believe anything he says, however often he is proved to have lied, and believe nothing anyone else says whatever its credi- bility. If Miss Slec had any political memory or judgment at all, she would not write that 'I see no reason to doubt his statement' when Colonel Nasser affirms that it was the recent Gaza strip battle which made him regard Israel as an enemy because she would have known that Nasser has from the earliest days asserted his hatred of the existence of Israel, his rankling resentment against the Israel victory, and she would have realised that the very existence of the anomalous Gaza strip is a legacy of the war started illegally and unsuccessfully by the Arabs. Appease- ment has repeatedly been sought by Israel in offers at the UN of negotiation on this territory and for the settlement of refugees. But the Arab States with Nasser as leader have preferred to keep that human problem as a bargaining point even though the refugees are of their making and are of their kin. Certainly the Middle East situation is hellish. It is kept hellish by the fact that, while Egypt protests at what she calls Israel's war against her, she, like all the other Arab States, has always declared that the Palestine war is still on (while utilising cease-fires as breathing spaces to suit herself) and Arab skirmish- ings and murders across the border go on day by day. While protesting against the Israel campaign, Miss Slee conveniently forgets to mention the inva- sion without warning of Israel territory by the Egyptian commandos months ago during a time of quasi-`peace.' In her casuistical use of legalistic argu- ment Miss Slee apparently implies that it was all right for Britain to have gone to war after due warn- ing to Hitler after the invasion of Poland, but would not have been all right at any earlier stage without due warning despite Hitler's conquests, coups and enormities, Appeasement has simply made Nasser, like Hitler, put his price up. And like the Germans, the Egyptians believe that a war is evil only when they lose it. But, however fatuous Miss Slee's argu- ments and however infatuated she may be with the Egyptian viewpoint,' neither her defence of Nasser nor my attack will affect the situation much. With the British out of the way, a Communist coup will eject him very shortly now.—Yours faithfully,