6 SEPTEMBER 1946, Page 13


Sta,—Mr. Evan John has recorded elsewhere how, in connection with his book Time in the East, opinions and anger which seemed justified two years ago should have been changed or forgotten before they reached print in the present days of peace. Having read his curious article on Palestine—of which problem he obviously possesses meagre background knowledge—I am inclined to believe that in another couple of years he may regret having penned this article as well. Whatever one may think about Zionism, is it altogether sensible to cite opinions of two discontented Jews, one a middle-aged refugee from Central Europe and the other a wealthy Egyptian, and then attempt to draw conclusions? Admittedly one can build up quite a case against Zionism in this dubious way, but debating tactics are, surely, a little out of place just now and ought to give way to more fruitful methods of discussion.

Just two points. Mr. John's Egyptian friend confided to him that Palestine can hold a million Jews provided the Arab population is removed. Did Mr. John enquire how. many Arabs had already suffered in that way following upon the first half million Jews settling there? Did Mr. John remind his friend that several thousand Arabs from the neighbouring .Arab States did in fact come to settle in Palestine themselves during the inter-war period? Again, while there may be some truth in the suggestion that the growth of Zionism has increased anti-Jewish feeling in Arab countries, it would be a pity if Mr. John were to go on imagining that relation between Arabic-speaking Jews and their Arab neighbours were altogether perfect before Zionism developed into the movement that we see today. Thus Miss Gertrude Bell, wilting a report on Mesopotamia in 1920, says: "The Jewish community, which is most wealthy in Baghdad, and comprises considerably more than a third of the population, took alarm at the windy and violent oratory in the coffee-shops, and sent in a unani- mous petition asking to be allowed to become British subjects if an Arab Government were set up in Mesopotamia." And Miss Bell continues: "The Christians, a small body about one-twenty-fifth of the whole population, were equally perturbed and declared that the attitude of the Moslems towards themselves was becoming truculent."—Yours faithfully,