7 FEBRUARY 1981, Page 18


Sir: Mr Patrick Marnham (Postscript', 24 January) attacks the Israeli religious establishment for doing things 'deeply offensive to Israeli Jews as well as to the world's Christians'. His own distasteful article gives far greater offence.

Its apparent purpose is to liken Judaism to Islam and Christianity in the context of 'a revival of fundamentalist religious wars'. Mr Marnham blatantly omits the crucial fact that Judaism has no word for or concept equivalent to Jihad or Crusade. Instead, he concentrates on three examples in support of the grotesque argument that the Jews are now as incapable of behaving decently to Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem as these two religions have been in the past.

First, he mentions a 'clearly racialist' direction of the Jerusalem Rabbinate (ap plicable solely to kosher hotels) to prevent Arabs serving Jews with wine. Yet apparently Arabs may serve Jews food. Can this then be racialism? Not all that is distasteful can be so defined.

Second, he refers to a certain Rabbi Kahane to whom he attributes abominable views and who, he says, has been impris oned by the Israelis 'on suspicion of terrorist activities against Palestinians'. In itself this is hardly a criticism of Israel, but Mr Marnham then complains that the Jerusalem Chief Rabbi ('a government official') has not been imprisoned for activities (the hotel injunction is the only one cited) 'deeply offensive' to many Jews and Christians. I suspect that Mr Marnham would be one of the first to condemn the Israelis for imprisoning people merely for giving offence, and for once his criticism would be justified.

Third, he mentions attacks last Christmas on Christian institutions when, he says, priests were spat on and threatened. The Israeli establishment, however, obviously strongly discountenanced these repulsive manifestations.

If Mr Marnham has evidence of Jewish intolerance in the city bearing any serious resemblance whatever to the officially en couraged massacres, desecrations and denial of free worship which have at times characterised Christian and Muslim domination, I should like to see it. His deplorable and repellent assertions cannot be left unchallenged.

Alan Perry Sydney Grove, London NW4