23 FEBRUARY 2002, Page 34

From Mr Israel Shamir Sir: As an Israeli writer living

in Jaffa, witness the other side of Jewish-Christian relations carefully omitted by Miss Phillips. While the Hebrew Bible is respected in Europe, in Israel the New Testament is burned. While in Europe synagogues are lovingly restored and protected, in the Jewish state, churches are violated, ruined, shot at. While in order to avoid a hint of antiSemitism, European society was thoroughly de-Christianised, in Jewish communities there is a strong triumphalist tendency. Recently, a mediaeval anti-Christian pamphlet Toledoth Yeshu was reprinted again in Israel, with the introduction stating, 'The Jewish people always deeply disdained Christian faith, considered Christian dogma as a collection of incongruous foolishness and Christian morals as hypocritical lies.'

It is not a fringe lunacy: a great new hotel in Eilat was given the infamous name of King Herod, while the road leading to it was unambiguously called Zeevi Promenade, after the assassinated Israeli racist and self-avowed enemy of Christianity. Posters on the walls present pictures of Christian preachers. and call for their physical elimination. The immigrants of Jewish origin are deported if their belief in Christ is found out.

In the Holy Land, Christianity is very much on the defensive. The Palestinian Christian community shrinks daily in the iron grip of General Sharon. The believers cannot reach their shrines. Even President Arafat was not allowed to attend the Christmas Mass.

Miss Phillips, regrettably, does not mind generalisations and victimisation per se, as long as it is Muslims and Christians who are stereotyped and blamed: 'Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, has been addressing Christian groups up and down the country on the implications of 11 September. When he suggests that there was a problem with aspects of Islam, he provokes uproar.' Well, if he suggested there is a problem with aspects of Judaism, would she quote him with such empathy?

We Jews must take care of the beam in our eye before addressing the mote in our neighbour's.

Israel Shamir

Jaffa, Israel