Yisrael Medad (Letters, Februry 6) asserts that Jews who are critical of Israel know little of the history of Zionism and "ignore Arab sins". As a British Jew I find this insulting. It is possible to condemn the violent stupidities of some Palestinian responses to Israel while sympathising with the plight of Palestinians. As for my knowledge of Zionism, I have long abhorred the right wing in Israeli politics and know well its history, dating back to Vladimir Jabotinsky and his revisionist Zionism, which demanded the establishment of a state after the first world war. Conversely, I have long regretted the earlier defeat of "cultural Zionism", associated with the writer Achad Ha'am, as an alternative to the Zionist triumphalism of both right and left that prevailed.
Prof Brian Winston
As he lives in Shiloh, a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, Yisrael Medad should know a lot about fudging historical facts, ignoring the law and "behaving in a street-gang manner". There is no need for settlers to call their philosophy "Jewish nationalism"; the term "colonialism" already fits perfectly.
Here's my letter to Winston (I managed to find his email address) -
Dear Prof. Winston,
I am sorry my resonse was delayed (I usually try to follow Internet developments more closely but today I was in Tel Aviv participating in a Civic Education seminar sponsored by the American Embassy with one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s associates, Dr. Bernard Lafayette). And I mention that in connection with the rather simplistic view one can have regarding other peoples political, ideological and historical outlooks.
You wrote that you found my statement "insulting" and that "It is possible to condemn the violent stupidities of some Palestinian responses to Israel while sympathising with the plight of Palestinians". Ah, but if only those who are vociferously in opposition to Israel's policies were equally strident in their criticism of Palestinian actions. I have been listening for a very long time, at least as long as since the time I spent two years in London doing Zionist work and just as recently as helping Jacqueline Rose with her review essay of Jabotinsky's novel, "The Five", published a few months ago in The Nation, but I fear my hearing is just not hearing. If you have raised your voice, please point me in its direction.
You are surely free to abhor anything you wish but in singling out Jabotinsky, the one Zionist leader who was visionary enough to attempt to save Jewish lives rather than dilly-dally over cultural Zionism, socialist Zionist and even religious Zionism, you seem to edge towards ignorance. Your regret at the defeat of Ahad Haam-ism I can sympathize with, to turn the tables, but cannot agree with as those who followed his lead were so horribly wrong in analyzing the immediate needs of more than 6 million Jews in the inter-war period and the reality of Arab opposition to Zionism which was total - neither in Jerusalem nor Tel Aviv or Emeq Yizrael.
As for Cathal, couldn't find an address. He's Irish, very pro-Pal., writes oads of letters and seems to be or have been employed by an Arab insurance company and previously based in Cairo.