Page 4, 10th April 1981

10th April 1981
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Page 4, 10th April 1981 — g 98 the facts of
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Locations: Camp David, Jerusalem

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g 98 the facts of

the Middle East

I WONDER if Diana Richmond is aware of the immense harm she is causing by her unrestrained and illinformed attacks on "Zionism," by which, from the context of her letter of April 3 it is clear that she means the Jewish people of Israel. • As a professing Christian, Lady Richmond should be directing her energies towards healing the breach between Arab and Jesy„.not driving them further apart.

The Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was the first real breakthrough after thirty years d continual strife and bloodshed. Does Lady Richmond believe that she knows better than President Sadat what is good for the. Arabs?

It appears rather that she is motivated not so much out of affection for the Palestinian Arabs as an inexplicable animus towards Israel's Jews, She adds little to the rectitude of her cause by referring to "the Good Communists' who support her views. They do so because it serves the expansionist designs of the Soviet Union irithe Middle East. If anything, it should cause Lady Richmond to stop and think whether her assessment of the situation is correct after all.

No-one with any deep knowledge of the Arab-Israel conflict could sincerely believe that there is a totality of right on one side and a monopoly of wrong on the other. Both have valid claims within this strife-tom land. To talk about Israel as the cause of Arab "misery and dispossession" is to blind oneself to the realities of the conflict.

For the main obstacle to a peaceful settlement is. and since the 1920s has been. the unrelenting deter mination of pan-Arab imperialism to frustrate the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, even in the smallest part of their ancient homeland.

It was not the imperialist Arab states, however, who paid the price for this intransigence. This they left to the Palestinian refugees, who were made homeless as a direct consequence of the war of aggression waged by a combination of six Arab states against the infant State of Israel.

Contrast Israel's absorption of some 600,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries with the adamant refusal of the powerful and wealthy Arab bloc to provide a home for the displaced Arab population.

Finally. I find Lady Richmond's solicitude for the Palestinian Arabs somewhat selective. Not only is she impervious to the needs of Israel's Jewish population but she is equally silent about the rights of the other non-Arab peoples of the Middle East: the hundreds of thousands of Kurds driven from -their homes by a tyrannical Iraqi regime or the beseiged Maronite community in the Lebanon. which faces annihilation by a powerful Syrian occupation army.

Surely she should realise that Israel will never willingly submit to Arab imperialism and that a refusal to come to terms with Israel's rightful existence as a sovereign Jewish state in the company of other sovereign Arab states will only multiply the number of innocent victim g of a conflict that can only be resolved by mutual goodwill on both sides. ON MARCH 27 Stephen Lock referred to my book 'Whose Jerusalem?". published earlier this month.

He writes that, under Israel's rule, the Arabs of East Jerusalem have suffered from "injustice that includes the eviction of 7,000 Arabs from the Jewish quarter of the Old City since 1967.

But before 1948 the Jewish quarter, as indeed its name might suggest, was inhabited mainly by Jews. who were themselves driven out in 1948.

For the next nineteen years the Jewish quarter was turned into an overcrowded slum. and all but one out of nearly sixty synagogues and other places of religious worship and instruction were turned into goats' pens. chicken-runs and ruins.

Land . it is true, has been expropriated for building purposes. The advice of organisations like the GLC has been sought. and compensation paid.

Certainly more housing has been built for Jews than for Arabs: Jerusalem has a clear Jewish majority over Christians and Muslims cornbined since 1872.

Rut the Arab population has grown from roughly 60,000 in 1967 to roughly 115.000 today, figures which give the lie to accusations of a Jewish campaign of persecution and even of genocide.

I suppose Mr Lock's reference of "desecration of Christian property" are connected with the attacks on Christian bookshops. These can only be deplored, although "desecration'' is an odd world to use.

There is no clear evidence of what was the intended use of the arms found in one "yeshiva": so far, the deeply relieious Jews have directed their main energies against fellow Jews.

As for "Palestinians in refugee camps" not being allowed to worship in Jerusalem. I cannot make out what Mr Lock means. In Jerusalem, the Israeli, authorities have guaranteed complete freedom of access, by all. to all Holy places.

The Israelis have kept open the bridges across the Jordan and all Muslims. save known terrorists. are free to cross them into Israel and to worshp in the the two great mosques of the Haram.

Terence Prittie London WI Dr. Jacob Gewirtz The Board of Deputies of British Jews

Woburn House London WCI




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