Nov 2006 Journal

Letters to the Editor

Hezbollah and Hamas: The Challenge

Sir - Further to Ronald Channing's article (October), on 20 September the German parliament agreed to contribute 2,400 soldiers to the UN forces in Lebanon, with the task of stopping illegal arms deliveries to Hezbollah in the coastal area, in accordance with UN Resolution 1701. On 21 September the German navy put to sea, having established that suspicious vessels could not only be checked against the resistance of the ship's crew but also against opposition by the Lebanese government and vetoes by Lebanese officers who, in the 'spirit of co-operation', would also be on board the German warships.

The following day, before an audience of 100,000 fanatical Shiites, Hassan Nasrallah threw abuse at Angela Merkel for 'pursuing the aim of protecting Israel', sneering that no army in the world was strong enough to disarm Hezbollah.

UN Resolution 1701 is unusual. Usually a peacekeeping force is established to supervise an agreement between warring parties. But Hezbollah and Iran oppose an agreement: their aim is to liquidate Israel. Therefore in its preamble the resolution describes Hezbollah's attack on Israel as the cause of the latest Middle East war. Consequently Article 8 demands: total disarmament of all paramilitary groups, expulsion of military (Iranian) instructors, and the prohibition and cessation of all illegal arms transports. Whereas the resolution demands the immediate termination 'of all attacks by Hezbollah', it requires of Israel merely the 'cessation of all offensive military operations'.

The problem is the absence of effective enforcement measures. On 10 August UN representatives of Lebanon and the Arab League declared that the approval of a 'robust UN mandate', based on Article VII of the UN Charter, was unacceptable: Hezbollah, as a member of the Lebanese government, would 'not consent to any resolution which apparently gives foreign armed forces the right to disarm them'. They proved succeeded: the Council agreed to the Lebanese army being the main authority in charge of all matters concerning Hezbollah. Furthermore, since Syria declared the stationing of European UNIFIL troops on her borders as a casus belli, only Lebanese government troops have been stationed there; their commander has stated that, unless he has incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, no transports between the two countries will be stopped.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev has declared: 'With his refusal to allow his militia to be disarmed, Nasrallah has not only challenged the Lebanese Government, but the whole international community.' Will the international community take up the challenge?
Eric Sanders, London W12

Sir - Ronald Channing asks how to prevent further aggression by Hezbollah and Hamas. The answer is for Israel to start peace negotiations with Palestine and Syria. When Israel decided to withdraw from Gaza, the Palestine Authority was very keen to use the withdrawal as the beginning of peace negotiations. So was Blair. Israel refused and instead withdrew unilaterally.

If Israel declares its willingness to withdraw to the 1967 borders as the Saudi peace proposals of 2002 envisage, and which Saudi Arabia has again proposed, all Arab states have a reed to sign peace agreements with Israel and establish diplomatic representation. This has been endorsed by the Arab League. The difficulties with Hamas and Hezbollah will disappear overnight. Why not give peace a chance?
Peter Prager, Ilford, Essex

Open letter to Anthony Howard

Sir - I was at Oxford University at the same time as Anthony Howard and Sir Peter Tapsell. Both were presidents of the union, Tony Howard on the Labour ticket, Peter Tapsell on the Conservative one. I am not in denial of any part of Anthony Grenville's article (October) criticising them, except to assure your readers that Tony Howard was, at that time, in no way antisemitic, nor anti-Israeli, and I don't believe that he is either of these now. I thought Anthony Grenville's article particularly harsh on Tony but, then, I thought he let Peter Tapsell off lightly. Peter, in the early 1950s, was no friend of the Jews; Tony certainly was. This letter is simply to put the record straight.
Peter Phillips, Loudwater, Herts

'September Surrenders'

Sir - I had occasion before to write to the AJR Journal about an objectionable photograph 'adorning' your article. Then, it was a Nazi photograph; this time, it is a nationalistic German historical figure in all his First World War glory. Although you printed my letter there was no further reaction. The inclusion of the Ludendorff picture in Mr Grenville's article in September seems to prove your indifference or approval of such procedure. Does the general readership of the AJR not care?

[response]
If we exclude photos of all Germans with right-wing views which we find distasteful, where do we draw the line? Kaiser Wilhelm II?Bismarck? Luther? I also find the use of the well-known photo of SA men outside a Jewish shop on 'Boycott Day' acceptable as an accompaniment to my article on that boycott; the same applies to the Nazi flag in the background of the photo of an early Volkswagen, which underlines the point that the Volkswagen changed its image several times over the decades. I try to strike a balance between respecting the sensitivities of readers and using photos that illuminate the historical issues raised by the articles (Anthony Grenville).
Leo Eisenfeld, London

Sir - I always enjoy Anthony Grenville's scholarly yet highly readable articles. I was particularly taken with the last sentence of this one. However, I feel that two words have been omitted. Shouldn't the relevant sentence read: 'All wartime readers need a Plan B - especially if, as seems to be the case with the American and British occupation of Iraq, they have no Plan A either'? Surely, our own winsome prime minister is as much to blame for this tragic fiasco as the unlovable George Bush.
Edith Argy, London W9

Sir - Far from being 'little known', Wilfred Owen's Akedah poem is one of the best remembered - not least because of its use at the centre of one of the finest musical works of out time: Benjamin Britten's War Requiem.
S S Prawer, Queen's College, Oxford

Vienna and the Viennese

Sir - I would like to bring to the attention of your readers the following project, which commemorates our loved ones who lived in Vienna and were murdered in the Holocaust. The project - a path of remembrance in Vienna's 2nd district - will entail small commemorative stones being placed in front of, or near, the house in which the victims previously lived. You can read more about it on www.steinedererinnerung.net. If you would also like a note in English about the project, please contact me via the AJR Journal. The project was initiated by Dr Elisabeth Ben David-Hindler, Chairwoman of the Stones of Remembrance association (info@steinedererinnerung.net).
Charlie Roberts, London, SW10

Sir - In June 2003 I received an invitation to attend the 100-year celebration of the school to which I went in 1930-38, the GRG XIX (in my days called the Döblinger Mädchenmittelschule). They had obtained my address, and that of my friend Henny Link, through the Nationfond of the Austrian parliament.

The history teacher prepared an account of the history of the school and asked Henny and me to supply details of our experiences after the Anschluss. Our accounts are included in the book. The school was originally a private Jewish one. Anna Freud was one of its first pupils and later taught there. Past pupils include Hedy Lamarr (Kiesler) and other well-known actresses. From the book I learned that our headmistress (Direx) had been an ardent Nazi who committed suicide because Germany lost the war. I remember her as a very strict but fair teacher.

Henny and I had expected to meet some of our classmates, but we were the only ones present. We also discovered that only the Jewish ex-pupils had been invited. Through some detective work, I have discovered two non-Jewish classmates. Sadly Henny died two years ago but she was still able to experience the joy of rediscovering our schoolfriends.
Inge Trott, Cheam, Surrey

Berlin Classmates

Sir - Thank you for forwarding my letter to Ms Stephanie Steiner. She was indeed an old classmate in 1935-36! Her life story was featured in your September issue - maybe there are others still around who were pupils at the Fasanenstrasse school in Berlin. Our teacher was Dr Kurt Aron. Perhaps other old pupils might get in touch with me via the Journal.
Daisy Roessler-Rubin, Raanana, Israel

Back from Hamburg

Sir - I have just come back from Hamburg, a city I left 67 years ago on the Kindertransport. It was a very nostalgic trip. Some places were exactly as I remember; others had disappeared. Hamburg is still a beautiful city and I am glad I have lived long enough to see it again.
Ilse Wylie, Stranraer

National Railway Museum

Sir - Further to my letter in the October issue, York Museum have now said that as Dr Gottwaldt, who was going to be instrumental in supplying a Güterwagen, cannot substantiate the authenticity of such a vehicle, although he has several to dispose of, the Museum cannot acquire it. Has any member got any ideas?
Rudi Leavor, Bradford

Three rabbis in a vicarage

Sir - Very disappointed to read the abysmal comments in your October issue regarding Three Rabbis in a Vicarage. I am on the last chapter and will be very sorry to reach the end.
Betty Zikel, London N2

World news

Sir - I always look forward to reading the AJR Journal but I think that world news, especially news on Israel, is sadly missed.
Anita Lewy, Las Vegas, Nevada

Tea-operatta and Day Centre

Sir - I would like to express my thanks and appreciation of the wonderful operetta concert and annual tea at the Watford Hilton. It was a real joy. I was accompanied by my family, who also enjoyed the entire event and we all hope you will arrange a repeat next year.

I would also like to say how much I appreciate the Day Centre in Cleve Road. The meals are always excellent, the staff always friendly, and I enjoy the musical entertainment and interesting talks at Luncheon Club and Kindertransport meetings. Many thanks for providing us with this facility.
Josie Dutch

Contact through AJR

Sir - I would dearly love to come to meetings of the Liverpool group but I find it quite impossible as my health will not permit it at the moment. I do, however, appreciate AJR members keeping in touch. I love to be informed of all happenings and I enjoy knowing what's going on.
Josie Atherton, Abergele, Conwy