Feb 2006 Journal

Letters to the Editor

Bias and untruths

Sir - It is indeed frustrating to read an article which contains bias and untruths. A cousin of mine, who lived in Haifa, wrote again and again in the angriest terms about the dishonesty of the Israeli papers. It happens here too: I am certain I am not the only person who writes in protest to one of the British daily papers attempting to put the facts right and, of course, finds that his letter has not been published.

This is not so with the AJR Journal. My personal experience has been that whenever I wrote a letter, it was published, as was the one by Shmuel Herold (January 2006). For this reason, it would have been wiser of him to have wasted less space on indignation than on factual rebuffs, as two other correspondents did.

Rudi Braude was surely wrong in stating that Inge Trott could not follow Palestine's (the name of the area) fortunes and, at the same time, believe that Israel won her wars due to superior weaponry. Perhaps she is guilty of over-simplification. In 1948 it was arms from the then CSR that saved the day; in 1967 it was superior strategy and the sheer inefficiency of the Egyptian army. He is nit-picking when he claims that there was no Palestinian territory because the Palestinians had rejected the UN partition resolution. He is mixing up the terms 'territory' and 'state'. It is correct that the Egyptians ruled the Gaza Strip and had it in their power to create a Palestinian state; nevertheless they treated it as Palestinian territory and supported the PLO. The Jordanians did not conquer the Gaza Strip. It is true that in 1948 many Palestinians left the parts allocated to the new Israel voluntarily, believing the promise of the Arab League states that they would be able to return in triumph. It is equally true that thousands of Arabs were ejected by Israel as potential fifth columnists. The Arabs remaining lived, and still do, in their own villages and as such were no danger to Israel. Even so, they have less civic rights than the Jewish Israelis. Rudi Braude should really study the facts before making misleading statements.

Inge Trott was certainly right to condemn the Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands but, if she included the West Bank in that comment, she is floating in mixed currents. The West Bank was Jordanian territory. Large numbers of Palestinians settled there with the approval of King Hussein. At the start of the Six-Day War, Israel offered not to include the West Banks in its warfare if Hussein kept out of the war. He did not and thus the Israelis also occupied the West Bank. Inge Trott should know this and not take her facts from her friendship with one Palestinian woman. Professor Bryan Reuben recently explained the West Bank details in one of the Journal's issues. I have done so in the past. It is clear that people only read, or only believe, what suits their fixed views. Incidentally, in 1970 the Egyptian army almost annihilated the PLO fighters.

Finally, Inge Trott is equally right in claiming that Israel has been guilty of a policy which has led to many human rights abuses. But she must also realise the historical truth that even before the war, organised Arab gangs attacked the legally acquired Jewish settlements, and that it was the Arab states which refused to obey the United Nations and refused to make peace with Israel. Furthermore, the anti-Judaism of the Islamist extremists goes back to the foundation of the Islamic Brotherhood in the 1920s. It has proliferated and led to the suicide and other terrorist attacks all over the world. The truth has many facets.
Eric Sanders, London

Imposter leaves stage

Sir - Mention of the grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II in Anthony Grenville's article (January 2006) reminds me that in 2001 the director of the local amateur theatre, the Civic Playhouse (now called the J. B. Priestley Theatre) was Christiaan Hohenzollern, a very good-looking young man with a slight German accent. I asked him if he was a relation of the Kaiser and he said he was a great-grandson. However, the committee made enquiries, discovered he was an impostor, and he was summarily dismissed.
Rudi Leavor, Bradford

Poles and miracles

Sir - I read with great interest Professor Brent's article in your December issue. He is obviously very impressed by the Polish people he met and thinks a miracle has happened, or is happening, with regard to Poles' attitudes towards antisemitism. Regretfully, he is very naïve if he believes this. Today Poland is 'Judenfrei' and they can afford to show remorse to individual and selected Jews, particularly as the country is now part of the EU.

May I point out that after the war many of the camp survivors wanted to reclaim their homes, only to be kicked out by the local population. Many were killed for daring to reclaim what was justly theirs. So far as I am aware, Poland has not paid a single penny of restitution to any Polish Jews who survived the camps. No compensation has been paid for confiscated property. May I also refer Professor Brent to the last instalment of Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution', shown on BBC2 on 10 December 2005, specifically when a camp survivor of the Blatt family tried to view his former home.
Manfred Landau, London

Cut off from roots

Sir - I totally agree with S. Halberstam's letter (December 2005), in which he states that he feels cut off from his German roots and requests articles pertaining to the culture of his parents, specifically a reprint of Richard Grunberger's articles. With my German-born parents and almost all their friends now having passed away, I must rely on the odd German TV show to hear the language - I have no occasion to speak it any longer. It feels as though some of my persona has been cut off.

Perhaps other contributions from your Editorial Board or from readers could be printed on, for instance, the humour of the 1920s-50s, the cultural and theological thought of those times, refugee experiences, portraits of major thinkers, or just stories of everyday life.
Dorothy Graff, Melbourne, Australia

Making a new life

Sir - Re your series on the Making a New Life Project, My late husband, Wolf Salinger, was born in Berlin in 1915. His father was a successful dentist and he and his younger twin brothers had a normal, happy Jewish upbringing. He always intended to follow his father's profession but in 1933, at the age of 18, when he applied to the university, he was turned away because he was Jewish.

In March 1939 he obtained an emigration permit to Britain but, when war was declared later that year, he was interned on the Isle of Man. On his release, he obtained a job as a pipe-fitter in a Manchester heating and ventilation firm. In 1948, married with a baby daughter and tired of being a blue-collar worker, he brought his family to London and joined another heating firm, this time as a white-collar worker. He was the only Jew in the firm but was never made to feel an outsider. He made many friends and was eventually made a director.

Although his dream of becoming a dentist was thwarted by Hitler, imagine his pride and joy when his only granddaughter obtained a place at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
Margaret Salinger, Middx

Angelic agent

Sir - The end of the DDR in 1989 gave me an opportunity to investigate what became of a property we owned and used at weekends in Gross-Glienicke on the Sacrower See some 10 kilometres from Potsdam. Once I had completed the spadework, I looked for an agent to take on the formidable bureaucracy and the business of restitution. I turned the pages of the AJR Journal in 1992 and found an advert by Nagel and Partner, Immobilien, now located in the Jägerstrasse 65, 10117 Berlin, tel 030/422 611-0.

Due to the more recent economic recession, the various complications challenging ownership of our restitution /sale of our property have only just been completed. However, over the entire period of almost 15 years Nagel and Partner have behaved in an exemplary manner and I appreciate the help I had through the advert in this journal.
Peter L. Berger, London

Hakoah West Ham

Sir - Since West Ham United have doubled their intake of Israeli players, bringing it to the grand total of two, they can now boast that they are the only Premier Division club with more than one registered Israeli player. All they have to do now is to recruit another nine to justify a change of name to Hakoah West Ham. I like to think that this is their ultimate aim, remembering that in the mid-1920s Hakoah Wien, at that time one of Europe's leading Jewish football clubs, scored a famous victory (5:0) against West Ham on the Londoners' ground. Some of my AJR contemporaries may appreciate this day dream - not to mention that well-known Israeli fan Ken Livingstone!
Frederick W. Rosner, Essex

Jolly old time musical tea

Sir - I'd like to thank Sonja Shindler for her report on our musical meeting (West Midlands, January issue), but a very important event was not reported: the 80th birthday of our dear Henny Rednall. Hoping for more such 'get-togethers'!
Terry Patrick, Walsall