Letters from alumni about William
Prickett 47's letter and Professor Stace and Israel
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.
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
April 1, 2002
February 12, 2002
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
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
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.
Its hard to know where to begin with William Prickett 47s 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. Picketts "greatest generation" should know better than anyone else that isolationism doesnt 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
Im responding to William Pricketts letter in the December 19, 2001, issue. Mr. Pricketts 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 Hitlers 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 whats best for all people, as opposed to the self-serving Mr. Prickett and Professor Stace.
Jeffrey Bourne 68
It is with interest that I read William Prickett 47's letter (December 19, 2001) that recounts Professor Walter Staces 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 Israels 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
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
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
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 didnt. 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 didnt.
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 Israels suppression of Palestinian rights and aspirations, lets 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
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
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
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 Israels 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. Pricketts 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 Britains 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
I question the biographical material contained in the captioned letters 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
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
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