31 JANUARY 1970, Page 25


From Vernon Bogdanor, N. McCausland, Abdul Hamid Ghazi, C. P. Brogan, Dorothy Usher, Stephen Milligan, Robert Stobbs, Heather Austen, Alec Dune, Michael Marcus, John Smith, John Lanier.

Semites, unite

Sir: Mr George Gale's article on the Middle East (24 January), contains too many in- accuracies to be taken seriously. For example, he asserts that Israel 'was created, and is maintained by force of arms,' when the truth of course is that the state was created by the United Nations resolution of November 1947, which provided for the par- tition of Palestine. Incidentally, since Mr Gale shows such concern for the rights of the Palestinian Arabs, he might have men- tioned that Arab Palestine was absorbed by Jordan in the war launched by the Arab states, who found the UN resolution un- acceptable.

Mr Gale then argues that 'the campaign against the present Israeli state' is 'not the same as any campaign against the presence of Jews in Palestine.' This fine distinction is indeed hard to discern in the pronounce- ments of Arab leaders before 1967. Mr Gale must be very naïve if he thinks that the 'Jews in Palestine' would escape the fate of their co-religionists in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Yasser Arafat, whom Mr Gale admires, is a little more moderate—he wants to expel only those Jews who have settled in the area since the Balfour Declaration of 1917; al- though, again, the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, which Mr Arafat preaches and practices, does not notice fine distinctions.

Mr Gale favourably contrasts the anti- Zionist views of Edwin Montagu with the Zionism of Norman Bentwich, by characterising the former's conception as 'anti-racist'. The implication that Zionism is `racist' is both offensive and silly; it is based on a failure to distinguish between race and nation. The Jews are not a separate race, but a nation. What group indeed could have a greater claim to be regarded as a nation, than one which has retained its identity and national consciousness for two thou- sand years despite the lack of a geographical base or political organisation?

Mr Gale, however, argues that 'sentiments on a par with those of Bentwich are now put out by Mr Enoch Powell on behalf of the English as opposed to the black,' although the Israelis have never attempted to secure the 'voluntary repatriation' of their Arab minority, nor to deny them welfare services.

Mr Gale's conclusion is that a settlement must be reached between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs; with this one cannot but agree. But such a settlement will not be secured by the Israelis renouncing their nationality, becoming, in Mr Gale's words, 'Palestinians first and Jews second.' There is no reason whatever why the Jews of Israel should be the only group in the world called upon to sacrifice their national identity: and that Mr Gale can proffer such advice shows how much he retains a conception of the Jew as universal scapegoat, a concep- tion which, fortunately, the triumph of the Zionist idea has rendered obsolete.