I was disturbed by your article on the forthcoming Marlborough College Summer School invitation to Christopher Barder to run a course titled “100 years after the Balfour Declaration – Why the West needs Israel”.
Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of Britain unilaterally making these international decisions on behalf of other countries (colonialism was clearly alive and well), included in the Balfour Declaration are the words that ‘His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’. [My underlining.]
Having recently returned from Israel/Palestine and witnessed and heard the testimonies of people and organisations – including NGOs made up of both Palestinians and Israelis that are working for peace and reconciliation and in the field of human rights, and addressing some of the issues meted out by the Israeli Government and military (e.g. illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the continuing occupation of East Jerusalem, the appalling treatment of children accused of throwing stones without evidence or access to legal representation), it concerns me that Christopher Barder’s views may be very one sided, given the promotion he has been accorded in the Summer School brochure.
The accusation of anti-semitism is all too easy in this instance, when so many people are simply concerned with the abuses of human rights by the Israeli Government and have no concern for their ethnic origins.
Would it not be reasonable, given the highly sensitive nature of the politics of this region, a) to ask Christopher Barder exactly what line he intends to take and b) invite someone with the same knowledge and experience, but having different views to speak in the same course in order that those attending it can then make up their minds as to with which approach they feel most sympathy. The organisation Jews for Justice in Palestine springs to mind.
Dr Nick Maurice,