27 APRIL 2002, Page 31

My views on the Jews

From Mr A. N. Wilson Sir: Readers who reached the end of Melanie Phillips's article ('Why the Jews are always to blame', 20 April) will see a number of contentious and unpleasant views attributed to myself. These include the preposterous suggestion that Yasser Arafat is not a terrorist; the views that Jews are 'always whingeing'; and the truly repellent idea that Jews are not supposed to fight back: 'they are supposed to go passively to their deaths'. I have never thought, said or written any of these things.

Indeed, I consider it a defamation to attribute such views to me. The confusion of thought in her article is too dense to be worth disentangling. But to take one simple thing: the supposed parallel with a cell of suicide bombers based in Wales. Wouldn't Tony Blair be right to go in and smash the Welsh if such a cell existed? She overlooks the fact that no nation in the world except Israel believes that the Israelis are entitled to occupy the territory conquered in 1967. Welsh nationalists believe that the English illegally conquered their land in the Middle Ages, but the UN does not yet agree with them. The UN does, by and large, support the Palestinian case. If the Israelis withdrew from the territories conquered in 1967, including East Jerusalem, the plausible cause for Palestinian terrorism would be removed. Almost all decent people in the world supported the Israeli fight for survival in 1967, and only depraved Nazis would think that Jews are supposed to go passively to their deaths. But for the Israelis to have remained in the conquered territories was a recipe for disaster. Imagine how Egypt would be behaving today had Israel continued to occupy Sinai!

A.N. Wilson

London NW

From Sherry Gerald Sir: Melanie Phillips's article was excellent. I am disgusted by the European attitude towards Israel, and the lack of European outrage at terrorism in general.

In David McCullough's biography of John Adams, he tells of how Barbary pirates extorted huge amounts of 'protection money' from England and France during the late-18th century, so European appeasement of terrorism is certainly not new. Thomas Jefferson declared war on Tripoli in 1801 rather than be blackmailed by these people; I hope modern America continues to show its moral backbone.

By the way, Jews do not run America. There are many successful Jewish people, so their influence may be disproportionate to their population, but about the only place I know of where there are large num bers of Jews is New York City. On a national scale they are few in number.

Sherry Gerald

Mississippi, USA

From Dr Oliver Conolly Sir: Melanie Phillips claims that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 is a 'diversion from the issue'. The real issue, it turns out, is the wish of 'the Palestinians' to see the Jewish state destroyed. (This despite strong Palestinian and Arab support for the recent Saudi plan, one of many such proposals, immediately rejected by Israel.) Her explanation is that they have been 'brainwashed' by the Palestinian Authority into believing 'mediaeval blood libels against the Jews'.

Interestingly, Phillips also says that 'those settlements should have been dismantled and the territories returned years ago'. Perhaps Israel just never got round to it. It is, after all, so trivial in comparison with the 'real' issue.

All this in an article denouncing 'double standards, twisted history, and hate-imbued moral blindness'!

Oliver Con olly

London W 11