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 . . .
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
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.
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
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
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