Mr. David Jacobs' article (of July 6 on the problems of the Jewish national movement provides a lucid and informative survey of the background against which the Zionist Movement developed. Had it terminated with the reminder of the Passover Prayer, 3 lines from the bottom, I should have found little or nothing to worry about or to criticise. But in his conclusion Mr. Jacobs has either said too much or too little.
Up to the time the Zionist Movement, in the form given to it by Theodor Herz', started to organise Jewish immigration, and indeed for some time thereafter — until the Nazi atrocities had intensified the drive several fold — the overwhelming majority of the population of Palestine was Arab in culture and language and largely Islamic in religion though there was a significant and important Christian Arab minority.
This created special links with the wider Arab world but it did not suppress the distinctions. A few million Palestinians must not be lost to view among the mass of 100 million Arabs. The question of political control, of the right to form a State in these lands, independent of the Ottoman Empire and of any western tutelage, began to arise about the time the Zionist Movement started in its modern political form.
By virtue of the very outlook that brought that movement into being, the people with the prior right to determine the political future of Palestine were not those who came in from outside with an alien culture but those whose families had been the only tillers of the land for centuries.
From the time of Herzl the Zionist claim has been a claim to a Jewish State — to political control in a land which could be made predominantly Jewish only by the displacement in one way or another of a population with long roots in the country.
I am not one of those who dismisses Zionism out of hand as wholly and inescapably bad. It is too confused and mixed a movement for that, and has attracted the allegiance of men of the highest integrity and humanity who have put something of their own stamp on it.
But Zionists as well as everybody else must face the fact that when, after Herzl's death, the movement turned irrevoc• ably towards Palestine, it was introducing a dilemma and a contradiction the dimensions of which were at the time only dimly appreciated but now face us starkly.
Palestine was a country al• ready inhabited by a people of very different outlook and culture from those who were proposing to go in and assume the government of a large part of it.
The problems of Jewish nationality and culture and of the preservation of the Jewish way of life are of great moment to us, not just because important human values are involved, but more especially because we ourselves belong to the great Semitic family of religions.
But we must not pursue this interest at the expense of justice and over-simplifications of the kind contained in Mr. Jacobs' last lines place us in danger of doing so. This is not just a quarrel between Jews and Arabs over land.
John Dingle 25 Taylor Road.