Page 8, 22nd June 1973

22nd June 1973
Page 8
Page 8, 22nd June 1973 — The human face of Israel

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Locations: Algiers, Birmingham, Surrey


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The human face of Israel

In his extremely interesting article on Israel in your issue of June I. Mr. Desmond Sullivan raised a number of points which are not often given the consideration they merit. His central one the need to form a unity out of an extraordinary diversity was one of the most dominant of the impressions with which I returned from a visit to Israel just a year ago.

The best way. I found. to appreciate almost to feel this diversity is in a bus, rushing through the Israeli night, for one is then isolated by the exterior darkness and encapsulated in a microcosm.

A few elderly people, but mostly a package of vivacious young human sardines, artfully crammed in, changing its corn-position as stop succeeded stop. One may find oneself, as I did. temporally sandwiched between Birmingham and Algiers, with _India apparently a few feet away. This is the vital human face of Israel. and a moving experience.

But there are other aspects to take into account, and here Mr. Sullivan disappointed me somewhat. Reading him, was I wrong to feel that whereas the Jews were, so rightly. people for him the Arabs had not quite risen above the level of statistics. albeit telling ones?

Mr. Sullivan speaks of Israel's only friendly frontier as the sea, and it is necessary to inquire why this should be true and whether it is inescapably so. In a further passage. which specially worried me, he speaks of the Common Market Countries trying to push Israel to make peace with the Arabs by concessions which would

imperil her policies and perhapv her future. (My italics).

This is a singularly bald statement when one remembers what those policies are and what are the concessions which the nine countries of the European Community are not alone in expecting from Israel. Even the State Department has made the same appeal in its time.

I do not want to pursue this at any length but I think your readers would be wise to reflect on the facts Israel has created in relation to the Arabs over the past 25 years as well as on the other aspects of her first quarter ccntury for instance, between 40 and 50 settlements on land that was Arab up to 1967, is still Arab by any normal rights of possession, and is still not juridically part of Israel.

It is the undisguised intention of the Israel Government that these settlements shall remain permanently Jewish.

I am sure, too, that insufficient thought has been given the implications of Mrs. Meir's own almost incredible account of her audience with the Pope at the beginning of the year. This has great relevance to the question why Israel's land frontiers are unfriendly.

The problem is what to do about the most authentic claimants to the title Palestinian who have been driven by violence or fear of violence from their homes or are living in subjection. Restoring justice in favour of such deprived people should not be dismissed as a "concession."

As Mr. Sullivan reminds us, land expanding in less than 25 years from 6,000 square miles to 35,000 square miles means people a very large number of them-and surely we must look at their situation from a wider point of view than any threat of their natural increase to the Jewishness of Israel.

My own contacts with Arabs leave me with the strong conviction that if Israel would take the steps without which her land frontiers manifestly cannot be friendly, that friendship would in fact not be so long coming as many people


But whether I am right or wrong on this point, there are two sure points, one of which should not need reiteration in a Catholic paper. though I will state it: To act unjustly, or perpetuate a certain injustice in order to prevent a hypothetical one by the opposing party is in the biblical sense a sin and something of which we should not make ourselves accessories.

The other point is that a country the size of Israel cannot ensure security by making security, as Archbishop Raya has said, her idol.

If Israel and the world are to reap the harvest of this amazing attempt to forge unity out of such a pentecostal gathering of cultures, and if the best of Jewish traditions, to which Mr. Sullivan again rightly pointed, are to make themselves felt in our time. then Iserael must show the courage to come out of her laager. and (as she may see it at this moment), risk losing her life in order to save it. There is no other way with such a small and immensely significant

spot on the map. John Dingle 25 Taylor Road, Wallington, Surrey.

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