Mar 2007 Journal

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Point of View

The pen - mightier than the sword?

It is most gratifying to know that the words I write in the Point of View column cause so much wrath among some of your readers. When I was a Fleet Street journalist my brief was to be controversial. Happily, I do not seem to have lost the knack! Six letters attacked me in your January issue. At least, this shows that what I write is read!

I am, however, appalled by some of the readers' letters. I don't mind being attacked personally, but it is their antipathy towards Israel that saddens me greatly. I may be accused of blind loyalty towards Israel but these readers seem totally blind to the fact that, had Israel existed in the 1930s, a great many of the six million who perished in the Holocaust would have survived. 'I shall be voicing exactly the same opinions - and highly critical opinions - about Israel ... wherever I go', boasts Peter Zander. Francis Steiner maintains that 'the prospect (or threat) of the creation of the State of Israel [was] at least one cause of the Shoah'. Charles Bieber accuses me of being 'both arrogant and presumptuous' for saying it is every Jew's duty to be loyal to Israel. E. Millman finds my assertion that the media attacks Israel unfairly 'totally unjust'. Alan S. Kaye says that 'Israel, militarily and politically, seems to be waist-deep in a swamp'. Lastly, Peter Henry Chapman can think of nothing cleverer to say than that 'every time I read a letter or an article by Peter Phillips it gets up my nose!' He too finds it objectionable that I believe it is every Jew's duty to be loyal to Israel. However, I now ask all these fellow members of the AJR one question. If antisemitism became rampant in Great Britain, as it did in Germany and Austria 70 years ago, to which country would they flee? May I suggest that it would be to the Jewish homeland - Israel?

But hold on a minute! What's this I see in the February issue of the Journal? Kurt Schapira supports me. He states that Heinz Grünewald has no evidence to assert that your readers do not support Israel and maintains that, had Israel existed, our lost relatives might have been offered an unconditional haven and the Holocaust might never have happened. Then M. Storz accuses Peter Zander of being 'full of spite against Israel' and Francis Steiner of being 'Hitler's apologist' when he suggests that the Holocaust was all due to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem! Fred Hirsch confuses me. He sits on the fence (oh, those splinters, Fred!), maintaining that I am wrong in the narrow sense but right in the wider one. What does that mean? Bettine Le Beau (bless her!) was hurt by the critical letters regarding my remarks on Israel. As she rightly says, 'isn't it comforting to feel that our genetic country is always there to receive us with open arms?' Francis Deutsch agrees with me that 'Jews are a race', as well, of course, that Judaism is a religion. Frank Bright, like Kurt Schapira, believes that 'A state of Israel would have saved us then [during the Second World War]'. Clare Parker is certainly not a fan of Peter Zander's views, while Janos Fisher would have him excommunicated along with members of Neturei Karta! Victor Ross wonders whether Peter Zander denies the Holocaust.

As Victor Meldrew would have said: 'I cannot believe it.' Am I losing my touch after all? A whole series of letters backing my opinions on Israel!! Perhaps the majority of AJR Journal readers are not such a bad lot after all.
Peter Phillips

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