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Letters from alumni about William Prickett ’47's letter and Professor Stace and Israel

June 2, 2002

Israel was born of American-orchestrated dirty politics at the U.N. followed by Zionist expulsion of the Palestinians, the latter explained away by false propaganda. Rather than recompensing the Palestinians for their injury the Israelis, with our support, have for for more than 50 years denigrated and insulted them, done nothing to help the refugees they created, and mistreated those Palestinians who were within their reach. On September 11, 2001, the Palestinians' fellow Arabs hit back.

The Zionists have got the Arab/Muslim worlds and the U.S. at each others throats. To damp the fire we should turn off its fuel by forcing Israel to behave decently to the Palestinians.

This self-evident sequence of cause, effect, and remedy is denied in the U.S. Politically correct is the new discovery that Muslims have for centuries hated Jews. This, plus envy of the West because we are more virtuous and successful than they are, is why the Arab/Muslim worlds hate Israel and the U.S. — so we are told. As the Muslims' hatred of Jews is age-old and immutable, and because we cannot deny our success and goodness, we have no choice but to destroy those who dislike us. This includes the Palestinians, who, as part of the Arab/Muslim terrorist world, must beg for mercy or be smashed.

People smart enough to invent such a scenario are smart enough to know it is false, but it is attractive to adolescent George Bush and the civilian war-lovers around him. It is a mad policy of a posturing administration.

Charles W. McCutchen ’50
Bethesda, Md.

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April 1, 2002

This is my response to the various letters that the PAW has printed generated by my letter of December 19, 2001. You have not printed any letters that concurred with Professor Stace's prophetic warning based on the immorality of what Britain and the United States were doing in about 1944. Rather, you have printed only letters that are antagonistic to Professor Stace's views. It is noteworthy that not one of the letters you have printed addresses, much less answers, the basic proposition that Professor Stace advanced prophetically so many years ago — that it was immoral for England and the United States to use their immense power, money and might to foist Jewish refugees from Europe into Palestine and create the State of Israel over the protests of the Palestinians and their coreligionists.

Since writing my letter of December 19, 2001, it has come to my attention that Professor Stace's views were amplified in his article entitled "The Zionist Illusion" that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly of February 1947. The article confirms that my vivid recollection of what Professor Stace said was accurate and correct. I would suggest that you reprint Professor Stace's Atlantic Monthly article on your web site so that your readers who would like to read Professor Stace's own words can do so.

William Prickett '47
Chesapeake City, Md.

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February 12, 2002

Poor William Prickett ’47! I hope that he was prepared for the usual knee-jerk response of Jews in response to his letter in the December 19, 2002, issue. Our Jewish friends may dispute among themselves as to orthodox, conservative, and reformed beliefs, but they will always rise up en masse to defend and excuse Israel regardless of obvious facts.
Rather than getting into a prolonged debate, may I offer a challenge to Daniel Robinson ’90 of Tel Aviv who wrote a letter in response to William Prickett. But first a few thoughts from a historical perspective.

Despite all Israeli propaganda, Menachem Begin (prior to becoming prime minister) himself was a terrorist with a proven role in planning and participating in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem before the British withdrawal in 1948. Although innocent lives were lost, he is "excused" because supposedly he "warned" that the hotel would be bombed! Note to Chairman Arafat: You can stop being labeled a terrorist by simply warning Israelis to withdraw from Palestinian territory!

Jewish propaganda constantly repeats the theme that Israel is America's staunchest ally in the Mid-East. Tell me why is Israel after 35 years still "investigating" the attack by Israeli planes and ships on the USS Liberty despite that vessel flying the American flag and obvious identification of this ship as a noncombatant American vessel? Where is the closure for the American sailors who were there, and where are the politicians who are spineless in dealing with this "thumb in your eye" gesture of this "staunch ally?"

Jason Pollard has been identified as the spy who has caused the most damaging blow EVER to American security and our nuclear secrets. Why does Israel constantly seek his release? What chutzpah!

Why doesn't Israel acquiesce to Resolution 242 of the UN; this is the organization that gave birth to Israel? Only the U.S. stands between implementation of this resolution because of pressure by Israel and Jewish lobbyists in this country. Why doesn't Israel withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory in toto! Israelis are tearing a page from the Nazi program of considering Jews and other specified groups as subhuman and nonpersons. Is this an attempt to salve their conscience in the repression and murder of innocent Palestinians. Is this only collateral damage? The death toll figures are quite lopsided, or hasn't anyone noticed?

Here is a challenge: Mr. Robinson, you live in Tel Aviv. I am in the U.S. and am not in the employ or beholden to any Arab/Islamic group. I hope that you are as independent and look forward to this being a shared learning experience for both of us. I have no political ties or influence. If arrangements can be made, I will use my retirement funds to come to Israel as soon as I finish my present project of a genealogical/historical treatise and go on a fact-finding mission with you. After one or two months of 8-10 hours a day together seeing with our own eyes and spending evenings debating and writing our thoughts, we could compose a daily communiqué even if we have different opinions. You and I MIGHT be instrumental in finding a beginning of solution to the crisis which may/ probably get worse. I am willing to be shown the Israeli side and publicly change my opinion and hope that you also will be amenable to being shown the Palestinian side. To reduce expenses, I will be glad to stay with you and if you accept this challenge, I will try to make arrangements (don't know how yet) for our mutual cohabitation in various areas of Palestine. I fully realize that you cannot guarantee my safety (nor I yours) but shucks, I am 77 and this may be my last adventure.

By the way, I would like to meet at least several of those Israeli reservists who stated (this even got into the American papers!) that they would no longer fight in the West Bank and Gaza strip and further stated that military actions had nothing to do with security for Israel.

For the record I am an elder in the Presbyterian church but for convenience (closeness), I attend an Episcopal church in Virginia. Also I have no problem accepting the largesse of the Israeli government/wealthy private citizen or Palestinian authority/wealthy private citizens for expenses. I think that you and I will not be influenced by this hospitality.

William M. McCarty ’46
Montross, Va.

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February 23, 2002

Walter Stace lived long enough to be informed that his only son, Noel ’55, a US Navy pilot, was lost at sea (Pacific) . His pride of his son's career choice was his only on-going passion.

Joan-Anne Thompson Dismukes k1864
Toldedo, Ohio

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February 4, 2002

During the spring of 1959, I had the opportunity to travel in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. In these Muslim countries, there was( and still is) overpopulation, underdevelopment, illiteracy, malnutrition, and government control to the point of oppression. I traveled in a simple manner with a pack on my back. As a result, many of my contacts with the peoples of these lands were ordinary everyday citizens.

As an individual, I was always well received and treated with respect and hospitality. However, the many different conversations or translations often reflected the thoughts and concerns of Professor Walter Stace. (Shared by William Prickett ’47 in letters of December 19, 2001.) I was frequently questioned why the U.S. did not accept displaced Jews from Europe into our country and not take land away from the Palestinians to make Israel. I particularly recall the threats of Muslim unity and resistance or future war against Israel and the U.S.

I did not appreciate the depth of discontent at the time nor seriously believed what has come to pass would occur. As the Middle East instabilities and hostilities evolved during the past 40 years I, too, have been haunted by the prophecies.

William W. Carruthers ’58
Cincinnati, Ohio

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January 23, 2002

What a surprise to see my father's face in the Alumni Weekly (Letters, December 19, 2001) and read his words recalled, by Mr. Prickett in a lecture given 50 years ago. I remember those days when I was a kid — the fear I felt for my dad who was under attack from those who criticized his position. If your readers are interested in the subject and my father's opinion, may I refer them to his own words, published in the Atlantic Monthly, February 1947, titled "The Zionist Illusion."

Thanks for your time and consideration of the topic.

Jennifer Stace

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January 20, 2002

It’s hard to know where to begin with William Prickett 47’s wrong-headed "prophetic words" attacking the right of Israel to exist (Letters, December 19).

If every other nation, ethnicity, and religion gets a country, why should Britain and the U.S. have paternistically denied a nation to the Jews, especially considering there are already 21 Muslim states in the Middle East (none of which is a democracy)? Because as his old professor pointed out "the Muslims controlled vast reserves of petroleum"? Is that sufficient cause for Britain and the U.S. to abandon their dedication to democratic ideals reflected in the creation of Israel – and supported by every American president? Palestine has been the home of the Jews for more than 2000 years – far longer than U.S. or even Great Britain have been around.

As for "the wrongs being done ...the Palestinians," a state has been offered to the Palestinians by Israel – an offer answered with the terroristic murders of hundreds of Israelis, including children, teenagers, and Americans.

Finally, the attacks on America on September 11 were just that – attacks on our democracy, our capitalist society, our emancipation of women, our freedom of religion, and way of life. Someone of Mr. Pickett’s "greatest generation" should know better than anyone else that isolationism doesn’t work, nor does appeasement. High school graduate Harry Truman may not have had the benefit of a Princeton education – but in supporting the long-promised creation of a Jewish state, he showed the wisdom of Solomon.

Michael Goldstein ’78
Encino, Calif.

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January 5, 2001

I’m responding to William Prickett’s letter in the December 19, 2001, issue. Mr. Prickett’s letter reeks of antisemitism in the name of the almighty oil dollar. How "... the fallout from the establishment of Israel would have consequences that would be paid for by my generation and future generation" affects him behooves me. Oh, perhaps Professor Stace or you may not have made enough money from your investments, Mr. Prickett, but that tiny democratic country in the Middle East has meant a lot more to the U,S, than your oil dollar.

There is also the fact that the Jewish people were almost wiped out just before the state of Israel was established and the fact that many countries did not allow Jews into their country during the height of Hitler’s power. But, of course we should worry about your oil money.

The Palestinian people deserve a home, too; and hopefully some miraculous person(s) will appear in order to bring both of these peoples to their senses. In the meanwhile, I hope that those who lead us will have more sense of what’s best for all people, as opposed to the self-serving Mr. Prickett and Professor Stace.

Jeffrey Bourne ’68
Short Hills, N.J.

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January 2, 2002

It is with interest that I read William Prickett ’47's letter (December 19, 2001) that recounts Professor Walter Stace’s comments regarding the establishment of the state of Israel and his prediction of adverse consequences for future generations of Americans. In deference to his professor, Prickett infers a connection of Israel’s existence with the terrorist events of September 11. He then writes of Muslims’ attempts to "try to right the wrongs now being done to their coreligionists, the Palestinians." Indeed, there may well be terrorists whose sole reason for hating the U.S. is its support for the existence of Israel and her alleged "derogation of the rights of the Palestinians." That freeze frame certainly is what radical fundamentalist Muslim propaganda would have us believe. However, broader analysis would suggest that this is not the only – or even overriding – element fueling their hatred for the U.S. Other issues include 1) American troops on holy Islamic soil in Saudi Arabia, 2) our support for repressive regimes in various Muslim nations, and 3) ideological differences with respect to American freedoms (especially those of females), commercialism and materialism. The goal of the Bin Laden fundamentalist brand of Islam is to sustain a repressive past into the future. These terrorists have shown that barbarism and wanton killing are not relics of history, and their baleful acts most probably would have occurred even if the State of Israel still were only a faint glimmer of a dream.

Stephen Jackson ’60
Monte Sereno, Calif.

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December 27, 2001

William Prickett '47 in his letter in the December 19 issue relates how Professor Walter Stace, a former British civil servant, began his "basic philosophy" class one day in the late 1940s by announcing the "basic immorality" of the founding of the State of Israel and the absence of any moral justification for a Jewish state. Professor Stace told his class that "the recognition and acceptance of the situation created by the acts of Israeli terrorists" was one of the justifications for a Jewish country and predicted that the Muslim world would ultimately rise up against the United States "to try to right the wrongs now being done to their coreligionists . . . ." In light of the September 11 Arab terrorist attacks on the U.S., Mr. Prickett characterizes Professor Stace's comments as "prophetic words" and apparently suggests that PAW readers do the same.

Not so fast, Mr. Prickett! Professor Stace's comments sound less like prophecy than like the rhetoric of a British civil servant whose government, in the late 1930s and through the 1940s, reneged on its solemn pledge to permit the reestablishment of the Jewish national home. Professor Stace's factual assumptions are also striking. It was the Zionist leadership that accepted the U.N.'s 1947 partition plan dividing the Palestine mandate into a Jewish and an Arab state. The prelude to the U.N. action was Arab bombing of Jewish civilian centers and the aftermath was the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel in a self-described mission to destroy the fledgling country. Most peculiar is Mr. Prickett's characterization of Professor Stace's comments as prophetic. If the Al Qaeda leadership is to be believed – and why not, Professor Stace taught that they're only trying to right historic wrongs – the principal "justification" for terrorism against the U.S. is our support for the regime in Saudi Arabia, and the stationing of non-Muslim American troops in the land of Mecca and Medina.

Like Mr. Prickett, I also took Princeton's "basic philosophy" course. However, there were no anti-Israel digressions and not even a hint of prophecy. Instead, my professor taught us to question one-sided pronouncements and to investigate the facts underlying conclusions presented to us.

Pierre Gentin ’89
New York, N.Y.

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December 26, 2001

The detail in which Mr. Prickett is able to summarize a lecture of half a century ago is incredible (Letters, December 19). (Professor Stace's pro-Arab slant, coming as he did from the British Foreign Office, is less surprising.)

Stace's list of moral justifications for the reestablishment of Israel (incredibly) omits the primary one: the general failure of the civilized world to accept Jewish refugees before and during the Holocaust made it clear that the establishment of an independent Jewish state was a moral imperative. Apart from the bias evident in this omission, any discussion of the founding of Israel without inclusion of the Holocaust is simply poor scholarship. The argument that Arab refugees were intentionally created in order to settle Jewish refugees is unfounded. Stace must have known that the lands for Jewish settlement in pre-1948 Palestine were legally purchased; had the Arabs not invaded Israel, there would not have been Palestinian refugees.

Finally, it is not a coincidence that the U.S. is known in the Muslim world as "the Great Satan" while Israel is only "the Little Satan." The anger towards the U.S. is based primarily on the dominance and success of our "infidel," secular society, a dominance which contradicts the fundamentalist Muslim's worldview. The Middle East conflict is only a sideshow.

Eugene Packin ’75 *77
New York, N.Y.

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December 21, 2001

The prediction by Professor Walter Stace (as recalled by William Prickett ’47 in the December 19, 2001, issue, that the creation of the state of Israel would arouse Arab fury that would come back to haunt all of us, was certainly prescient. But his remarks on the political morality of this issue were profoundly offensive. Professor Stace suggested that the moral solution to the Palestinian crisis of the 1940s would have been for other nations to absorb the Jews of Palestine so that the Palestinian Arabs could stay where they were. This suggestion ignored several aspects of the crisis that were well understood at the time – at least by others. First, there have: been Jews in Israel – and in Arab countries – since biblical times. Was it fairer to displace them? Second, the western democracies had already rejected the moral course of action with respect to Jewish displacement and immigration in the 1930s, when Hitler instituted serious oppression of Jews and defied other countries to take them in. They didn’t. Why should they have been entrusted to do the moral thing later? Finally, it seems to have escaped this great moral philosopher that, if the other nations could have taken in displaced Jews, then Arab nations could have absorbed displaced Palestinians. They didn’t.

To my mind, the greatest immorality in the Middle East then and now is the treatment of the Palestinians by the Arab states. Palestinian refugees could have been absorbed into their populations and prospered, the way Jews expelled from Arab countries were accepted by the new state of Israel. Instead, they were left to rot in Jordanian refugee camps, precisely to brew a generational revolt that could be counted on to destroy Israel later. However disapprovingly we regard Israel’s suppression of Palestinian rights and aspirations, let’s not be blind to the fundamental truth and cause of the whole problem – the Palestinians have always been regarded by Arab governments simply as expendable pawns in their long-term plan to destroy Israel.

Paul Kolodner ’75
Hoboken, N.J.

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December 20, 2001

I am writing in response to the letter from William Prickett '47 (December 19) which places sole blame for the September 11 assault and, by implication the feelings of some elements of the Muslim world towards the U.S., on our support for the establishment of Israel. I do not intend to debate the wisdom, morality, or politics involved in that support, but merely point out that this uni-dimensional view greatly oversimplifies the issue. If one merely listens to Osama bin Laden, it is clear that his primary goal is to get the infidels, as currently represented by the U.S. military, out of Saudi Arabia, the land of the holiest Muslim sites. By the way, sir, you as well as I are infidels. His second goal is to bring his view of fundamental Islam to the Middle East and eventually to the rest of the world. Israel ranks no higher than third on his list.

It is hard for us in this country to accept that there are really people out there who do not like us. In this case we are hated for who we are, what we stand for, and how we act in the world. If Israel had never existed, we still would be on the top of the hate list of the Osama bin Ladens of the world.

Gerald S. Golden, M.D. '57
Philadelphia, Pa.

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December 20, 2001

I am puzzled by William Prickett '47's letter (December 19) regarding the origins of the conflict in the Middle East. His arguments are more a reflection of his particular world view rather than an unbiased presentation of the facts. It is well known that a variety of ethnic groups have lived in the land of Israel over the years. This is no different than the experience of other parts of the globe. But it is also true that the Jews have an earlier and longer connection to this land than any identifiable group in the modern world. The Jews have every right to self-determination in their own small country. William Prickett may believe that the Palestinian Arabs were expelled from "their land" or that Israeli "terrorists" conspired with the U.S. and the English to establish a Jewish state. These allegations are false and his attempt to justify them by referring to Professor Walter Stace do not give them greater credibility.

Daniel A. Myers '89
Silver Spring, Md.

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December 20, 2001

William Prickett ’47 must be mistaken in his memories of his course with the empiricist philosopher W. T. Stace. Professor Stace was never the governor-general of what is now Sri Lanka (though he was a colonial magistrate and mayor); the founding of the State of Israel could not have been discussed in 1945 or 1946, two or three years before Israel’s birth in 1948; and the Palestinian refugee problem was created when the Arab invasion of the newly established state of Israel failed, an event that in no way involved U.S. military might. In fact, the U.S. imposed a blanket arms embargo on the entire Middle East, including Israel, until the Kennedy administration.

During Mr. Prickett’s studies at Princeton, Britain drew international condemnation by refusing to allow Holocaust survivors to leave displaced persons camps in Europe and, at their request, join the remnants of their families in Palestine. Stace, long a cog in Britain’s colonial enterprise, seems to have taken personal umbrage at these attacks on British policy, which may explain why he chose to use an introductory philosophy course as a forum to air his opposition to Jewish national self-determination.

Professor Stace, as an empiricist, would have noted how much oil there was in the Arab countries, and how many more Arabs there were than Jews, especially after the Holocaust. His conclusion: that it made economic and imperial sense for Britain and the West to back Arab anti-Zionism. Professor Stace must have been sorely disappointed when the U.N. General Assembly, seeking compromise, voted for the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab, in 1947.

Daniel Robinson ’90
Tel Aviv, Israel

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December 19, 2001

I question the biographical material contained in the captioned letter’s initial paragraph. Walter Stace was indeed a British civil servant and was mayor of Colombo, the capital of then Ceylon. I have never seen any evidence that he was governor general of the former Ceylon. If I am mistaken about this I will apologize to Mr. Prickett forthwith.

Charles C. Hewitt, Jr. ’40
Naples, Fla.

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December 17, 2001

The sincere respect due to William Prickett '47 as a World War II veteran does not diminish the factual errors in his letter of December 19 concerning Israel's 1948 war.

The U.S. and England did not "use their immense power against the Palestinians." The State of Israel, only one-eighth of the territory promised in the Balfour declaration, was attacked on the day of its birth by armies of five Arab nations, the most effective of which, the Arab Legion, was British trained and led. Britain had previously blockaded the country, preventing the Jews from receiving arms, while supplying them to the Arabs. The U.S. embargoed both sides – Israel had to get its few planes from Czechoslovakia.

The 400,000 Palestinian refugees who fled the hostilities were left by the surrounding countries to languish in camps (where they remain), while an equal or greater number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands were welcomed into Israel.

William Rachlin ’49
Chestnut Hill, Mass.

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