23 FEBRUARY 2002, Page 34

From the Revd Peter W. Lockyer Sir: I understand and

share Melanie Phillips's concern about the vein of antiSemitism that has existed in the West and some sectors of the Christian Church. It is surely right for all people of good will to be on our guard against all forms of hatred based on race or religion.

But while most Christians have a deep sympathy for what Jewish people have suffered in the past, that does not mean that we should condone everything that the state of Israel has done since its creation, as Miss Phillips purports to understand. I have met some wonderful and sensitive Jewish Israelis who are acutely aware of the injustice that has been done in their name. I have met other Jewish people who display a swaggering arrogance and insouciance about this. Do such observations make me an anti-Semite?

These things considered, I was surprised to see the Bishop of Guildford featured as one of those who are purported, by implication, to hate Jews. I simply did not recognise the man I have come to know and recognise as a person of deep compassion and kindness. I have worked closely with him as he strives tirelessly for justice in the developing world, and I know that there is not an ounce of anti-Semitism in him.

Peter W. Lockyer

Cranleigh, Surrey