Pompidou in New York
Sir: With regard to Sir Denis Brogan's article (14 March) I would like to make a few points. Sir Denis, writing of a Jewish firm threatening to boycott a New York bank, presumably for political reasons, stated 'such visible economic pressure sets up a reaction and in fact appears to justify a common anti- semitic charge, that Jewish wealth is used to promote purely Jewish objects.'
This comment will probably 'set up a reaction' among many Jews, like myself, who feel that Jews have no duty to account to anybody how they spend their money. If I choose to donate to the Jewish National Fund rather than to Oxfam, this is my busi- ness and my business entirely.I was not aware that the Jewish community was under some obligation to explain to the general public its reasons and objects for charity or political support, or that Jews in general have to pre- sent an image acceptable to their neighbours.
Sir Denis goes on to say that highly visible demonstrations by Jews may arouse anti- semitic feeling. Big deal. Anything Jews do may arouse the feelings of anti-semitics. There is no longer any need for Jews to tread softly in the hope that this will lessen the blot on the landscape created by their existence.
With regard to the demonstrations against President Pompidou during his American tour, Sir Denis wrote: 'It is an example of the sacrifice of good manners and perhaps of real American interests to the very natural influence of a numerous, wealthy, and well organised minority group.'
There have been innumerable demonstra- tions against visiting heads of slate in various countries, such as those against President Johnson over the Vietnam war or those against Queen Frederika of Greece on her visit to England. The demonstrations by Jews against Pompidou are neither more nor less discourteous than those others. Perhaps Sir Denis would like to direct his wrath against those demonstrators as well?
Lastly, with regard to 'real American in- terests,' are the Jews of New York and Chicago not Americans? Surely the concern of a Jew living in New York, for the state of Israel, where he is likely to have friends or relatives, is a 'real interest'? Many newspapers, including French papers, have commented that President Pom- pidou seemed to set a much higher value on his dignity than other visiting heads of state have done. Perhaps his refusal to see Jewish leaders at one point was an affront to their dignity? President Pompidou seems to have been very much taken aback by all these rowdy, noisy Zionist types heckling him in the streets. What did he expect? Should the Jews have lined up to cheer him for gra- ciously condescending to tolerate Israel's existence?