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‘Genocidal’ charge against Israeli policy

08 February 2013


From the Revd Patrick Morrow
Sir, - The Revd John Latham ( Letters, 1 February) defends the description (originally by Professor Mary Grey) of the Israeli government as "genocidal". He distinguishes the noun "genocide" from the adjective "genocidal", suggesting the nuances of the latter are different. This is an argument of such subtlety it can scarcely be made in a short letter. He continues: "many members of the Israeli government" have genocidal intent, wishing "that the Arabs of the land should eventually be no more".

This is an argument of such defamatory enormity it can be made only when accompanied by overwhelming evidence. I suggest that Mr Latham knows such evidence is absent, ugly remarks by individual politicians notwithstanding. Note his compromising "seemingly . . . it seems".

Not much more than 100 miles from Tel Aviv is Damascus. In Syria, seasoned observers reckon, well over 60,000 have been killed, a large number by the current regime. Our outrage and opposition to such real-life killings is cheapened if we see "genocidal" intent where none is evident.

Christians do not have a good record at judging the mindset of Jews in particular. There is a tradition - the word is fitting - of blaming Jews a priori as carnal, deceitful, and full of blood-lust.

This is not to accuse Mr Latham of intending any such thing - which brings home how hard it is to determine another's intentions. In any event, the Palestinian cause is not helped by hyperbolic claims from its would-be supporters.

Programme Manager
The Council of Christians and Jews
21 Godliman Street
London EC4V 5BD

From Mr J. D. A. Levy
Sir, - The Revd John Latham's letter on Israeli governmental attitudes to the Palestinians merely compounds the outrage and offence caused by Professor Mary Grey's earlier reference to genocidal actions by the Israeli Establishment.

In 1945, my late father, as Senior Jewish Padre to the British Army of the Rhine, participated in the burial of tens of thousands in the liberated Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp. Those innocents were murdered in a deliberate, comprehensive campaign to liquidate a whole people. By definition, they were the victims of a genocidal policy.

Nothing in the tragic confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians, or in the daily encounter between Israeli and Palestinian, bears the slightest resemblance to the genocide of the Nazi Final Solution; and it is wholly unacceptable and wilfully reprehensible of Professor Grey, as an academic, to employ emotive language so sloppily.

Mr Latham's reference to members of the Israeli Government, "strongly steered by Zionists", is equally preposterous linguistically. All of us, Jew and Gentile alike, who wish to support a vibrant, creative, revived national homeland of the Jewish People describe ourselves, by definition, as Zionists. In Israel, there are Zionists across the political spectrum from the Hard Left to the nationalist Right.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has unambiguously stated that his government "seeks two states for two peoples in the area west of the Jordan". That "the Arabs of the land should be no more" is wholly Latham. It is not Israeli government policy, nor ever has been.

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London N2 0LE

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