CAABU (Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding), began life as an Arabist rather than a radical ratbag organisation like the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), but, with many names drawn from the top echelons of business, politics, and academia, it has been perhaps all the more dangerous for that. Nowadays, given a common purpose and despite their diffferences of emphasis and personnel, the two organisations appear to be hand-in-glove in efforts designed to undermine support for Israel among the British public: witness the ruthless targetting of British schoolchildren with anti-Israel propaganda, about which I blogged here
Funded by Arab money, CAABU was established in the immediate wake of the Six Day War:
"We believe that the need for mutual understanding and sympathy between the people of Britain and the people of the Arab world was never more vital than at the present time.
Britain and the Arabs have a long tradition of respect and friendship; they have much to admire in each other's way of life and the principles to which both people's adhere.
We have sympathy for the aspirations, achievements and rights of the Arab peoples, especially the Arabs of Palestine, for whose administration Britain was responsible until 1948, and whose case must not be permitted to go by default."
In the following words, Christopher Mayhew
(1915-97; created a life peer as Baron Mayhew in 1981),a Labour MP until 1974, and from then a Liberal, began a speech on 27 July 1977 in a committee room at
Westminster to mark the tenth anniversary of CAABU's foundation.
"Those who founded CAABU, at a meeting here in the House of Commons ten years ago, took on a formidable task - to challenge the deeply held beliefs about Palestine of the overwhelming majority of the British people.
An opinion poll just published by the Sunday Times had shown that only 2% of the British people supported the Arabs. It was almost universally agreed that the 1967 war had been planned and started by the Arabs with Russian support; that the Arabs were racialists who aimed to drive the Jews into the sea; that the Palestinian refugees had left Israel in 1948 and should resettle elsewhere in the Arab world; that the refugee camps were kept in being by the Arab Governments as a political weapon against Israel; that Israel, a small country surrounded by numerous enemies, had no designs at all on Arab territory unless, reasonably enough, to secure her own security; and that, in general, after the appalling sufferings of the Jewish people, Israel was entitled, on moral, legal and historical grounds, to the wholehearted support of the civilised world.
To make things worse, these opinions were shared at that time by almost all newspaper proprietors and editors, almost all the directing staff of the BBC and ITV, almost all MPs, and almost the entire publishing and film industries.
They were also supported, with enthusiasm and sincerity, by the great bulk of Britain's large, lively and influential Jewish community, many of whose members were totally dedicated to Israel's cause and were willing to make great sacrifices of time and money to support it.'
talk was entitled "CAABU - The First Ten Years (it was followed by one
from Lakhdar Brahimi, the Algerian Ambassador to the Court of St James,
on the topic "CAABU from the Arab Standpoint") went on:
'It was in those unpromising circumstances that a few individuals, sharing a quite different conviction about Palestine, came together, first in a provisional executive committee, and then at a formal constituent meeting, and founded our Council. My researches suggest that the honour of actually starting the ball rolling belongs to Elizabeth Collard, but she was supported right from the start by Ian Gilmour and Colin Jackson as co-Chairmen of the provisional executive, and also, among others, by six members of our present executive committee Michael Adams, Hugh Norris, Doreen Ingrams, Dennis Walters, Anthony Nutting and myself....
To spread the truth about Palestine, CAABU has published large numbers of pamphlets, helped to produce several films, written of promoted hundreds of letters to the press and has produced articles - or material for articles - not only for provincial or national newspapers, but also for university publications and even parish magazines. Our members have spoken at innumerable meetings all over the United Kingdom, including many meetings organised by Jewish societies and University debating societies ...
CAABU members were discusssng and stydying the feasibility of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza as early as March 1969....
In fact, CAABU has undoubtedly helped to create the remarkable international consensus which has now emerged on the best way of achieving a just and peaceful settlement.....'
Mayhew went on to observe:
of the founders of CAABU, I feel sure, expected to enjoy the experience
of challenging the Zionist lobby ... but it was plainly a job that had
to be done by someone. Moreover, there are always compensations in
supporting wildly unpopular causes. To begin with, nobody joins you for
a beer, so that your companions tend to be people of genuine
conviction. Moreover, in a situation where everyone desperately needs
mutual encouragement, personal relations tend to flourish. There have
been notably few resignations or quarrels in CAABU during the past ten
years. Sadly, death has removed some of our most vauled colleagues. We
remember, for example, Arnold Toynbee, Tom Little, Will Griffiths and
Who were the people that Mayhew specified in his speech?
Calcutta-born, LSE-educated Elizabeth Collard
(1911-78), a socialist and anti-colonialist,
latched onto the Arab cause following the fruition of her previous
consuming passion, India's independence from Britain, and in 1957 she
had founded the Middle East Economic Digest
, PC (1926-2007; succeeded to father's baronetcy 1977; created life peer as Baron Gilmour of Craigmillar, 1992), ex-Eton, Balliol, and the Grenadier Guards; he was a barrister, a Conservative MP from 1962-92, and proprietor (1954-67) of The Spectator
, which he edited from 1954-59. He was Secretary of State for Defence in 1974 under Edward Heath and Lord Privy Seal, 1979-81, under Margaret Thatcher. A pro-Europe "wet" who opposed many Thatcherite policies, he was a prominent pro-Arab and from 1993-96 was president of Medical Aid for Palestinians, a post later held by another Conservative "wet," the present chairman of the BBC Trust, Chris (Lord) Patten.
(1921-81), a barrister by profession, was Labour MP for the
West Riding constituency of Brighouse and Spenborough (1964-70 and
(1920-2005), a journalist, was CAABU's inaugural director. He'd worked for the BBC early in his career (his son Paul is its chief diplomatic correspondent) but had later joined the Guardian
. As I observed here
'It was owing to his articles in that paper that a columnist in the Jewish Chronicle (30 June 1967) observed: "It is with a sinking feeling and eventually turning stomach that one examines the Guardian each morning." (That writer would certainly vomit daily if he read the Guardian nowadays!)
One of CAABU's first actions had been to send Adams, while he was still employed by the Guardian, on a funded trip to the Middle East, from whence he sent a series of articles biased against Israel. The Guardian had printed them without explaining that they had been subsidised by Arab money. There was also a despatch from Cairo which talked of the "forcible expulsion across the burning desert of Palestinian Arabs to Gaza". In fact, those deportees were members of the Palestine Liberation Army and a threat to Israel's security, as the Guardian grudgingly acknowledged the next day. Adams also used the offensive term "final solution" to describe Israeli policy.
It was shortly after this that Adams became CAABU's director. The Guardian continued to offend. In August it carried an advertisement from an Arab source that made "untrue and repulsive allegations about Israel's treatment of Arab civilians in the occupied territories" and in a report alleged the "collective shooting of civilians" by Israeli troops in the occupied territories as well as the discovery of "mass graves". Yet overall it seems that with Adams's departure, and that of leader writer Frank Edmead, the Guardian's coverage of Israel became more evenhanded - until it descended again into the travesty of truth and fair play that is its hallmark today.
The BBC's Keith Kyle was not slow to identify openly with CAABU. He was a keynote speaker at one of its first major rallies. The Jewish Chronicle (29 November 1968) noted "the intense anti-Jewish feeling generated in the CAABU audience - and among some of the speakers - by the very existence of the Jewish State, referred to as the Zionist State" as well as the way pro-Israel Jewish questioners were mocked and shouted down.
One of the worst features of Kyle's pro-Arab stance (apart from its infringement of the BBC Charter, of course) concerned the hijacking of an El Al aircraft at Zurich in February 1969. Through his Arab contacts he had learned of the plan, but had not disclosed the information "to avoid Israeli retaliation against it".
In the same year he presented a series of programmes on the Middle East highly slanted against Israel and replete with gratuitous comments of his own. Aghast, a Jewish Chronicle columnist (9 May 1969) observed: "The casual viewer will doubtless have been fooled into believing that the Israeli occupation of Arab territories is barbaric and ruthless."
And that summer, on the BBC's Panorama, Michael Adams spewed out vitriol about "nation-wide and even world-wide Jewish pressure" - in other words, a certain lobby.
In one of his platform appearances Adams - foreshadowing the avoidance by Al Beeb and the Guardian of the T-word - rhetorically enquired why the British press referred to "Arab terrorists": 'I can't remember calling members of the resistance in Nazi-occupied France "terrorists"', he continued. (In 1999 his son, the BBC's Middle East correspondent Paul Adams, used the prescribed Al Beeb term "Islamic militants" of suicide bombers. It was Paul Adams, when diplomatic correspondent, who in 2007 appeared to admit to BBC bias when he described Alan Johnston's job as "to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament in the Gaza Strip".)'
had been married since 1965 to Cairo-born London-based clinical psychologist Fawzeya Makhlouf
, a leftwing activist in the Arab cause who would vehemently decry Sadat's peace treaty with Israel.
(1906-97), the daughter of barrister and politician Edward Shortt, Home Secretary under Lloyd George, was the wife of a British colonial administrator, Harold Ingrams
(1897-1973), who'd been stationed in Zanzibar, Hadhramaut, and southern
Arabia, dressing like the locals. Her diaries of their travels formed
the basis for her book A Time in Arabia
(1970). Like Michael Adams, she had worked for the BBC (as we read in her obituary in the Independent
by none other than Adams himself) and it would be reasonable to suppose
that, again like Adams, she promoted CAABU's agenda via her contacts
'Doreen Ingrams spent 12
years as a Senior Assistant in the Arabic Service of the BBC, where she
was in charge of talks and magazine programmes, especially programmes
for women. Gathering material for these, she travelled widely and after
her retirement in 1967 she kept closely in touch with developments in
the Arab world.
1972 she made use of little-known archive material to produce a work of
lasting historical significance in Palestine Papers 1917-1922 with the
subtitle Seeds of Conflict, pinpointing the responsibility of British
ministers and officials for the subsequent tragedy in Palestine. She was
a founder-member of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British
Understanding (Caabu) and served for many years on its Executive
Committee. At a reception in her honour in 1994 the members of the Arab
Club in Britain presented her with a silver tray as a symbol of "her
outstanding contribution to the promotion of Arab-British
(Sir; knighted 1988) Dennis Walters
(1928- ), Conservative MP for Westbury (1964-92), chaired CAABU from
1970 until 1982. To push the Arab cause within his party he founded
the Conservative Middle East Council in 1980 and served as it chairman
for the next twelve years. He was also an office-holder on the
Conservative Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, chairman of the
Euro-Arab Parliamentary Association and founder/director of Middle East International
a political journal that ran from 1971 to 2005.which provided news,
analysis and commentary on the Middle East from 1971 until its closure
Diplomat (Sir; succeeded father in baronetcy) Anthony Nutting
(1920-99), a well-born Foreign Office Arabist with a fondness for
foxhunting, was one of the first politicians to display enthusiasm for
Britain's relinquishment of the vestiges of Empire and membership of the
European Economic Community. Thanks to family connections he became
Conservative MP for Melton in 1945 when only 25. Talked of as a future
prime minister, he negotiated with Nasser, in 1954, the withdrawal of
British troops from Suez. He accordingly resigned as Minister of State
for Foreign Affairs during the Suez Crisis of 1956, and soon afterwards
lost his seat in the Commons. His views on Israel were outspokenly
intemperate and obnoxious. On 12 November 1969 the Jewish Telegraphic
Foreign Ministry confirmed yesterday that it has barred the entry to
Israel of Anthony Nutting, a former British Minister of State who is now
a journalist, because of "hostile" remarks he was reported to have made
while visiting Arab countries. A ministry spokesman said the British
Embassy in Tel Aviv was advised that Israel considered the proposed
visit by Mr. Nutting undesirable.
former Conservative MP said in Amman, Jordan today that the decision to
bar him from Israel showed "how arrogant the Israelis' attitude is
toward anyone who criticizes them." Mr. Nutting attributed the Israeli
ban to his remark that the Israel-occupied West Bank was "one large
prison." adding that they "must have something terrible to hide."
Israeli spokesman said yesterday that Mr. Nutting would have been
welcomed to visit the West Bank and see conditions for himself. He
was barred because of a speech he made to students in Beirut several
days ago in which he reportedly said that the Palestine question can be
solved only by force and that it was up to the Palestinian guerrillas to
impose such a solution. The spokesman called those remarks inimical
to Israel's security. Mr. Nutting said he would not try to force his
way across the Allenby bridge and preferred to remain in Amman with "my
friends."' [Emphasis added here and below.]
The other members of the Executive Committee (not mentioned by Mayhew) were:
(1895-1972), an Oxford-educated Arabic scholar from Northern Ireland, was another CAABU activist with influence at the BBC. He had lived in Tangier and then Cairo for some years before moving to Palestine in the 1930s with his wife and children, acting as local correspondent for The Times, and editing the Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society
. Following the outbreak of the Second World War he returned to Britain, joining the BBC in 1940 as Arabic Public Relations Officer. He launched the magazine Arabic Listener
and subsequently became Assistant Head of the BBC's Eastern Service, retiring in 1956. The best-known of his publications, Nisi Dominus: A Survey of the Palestine Controversy
, was published by Harrap in 1946.
an Arabist military officer's son who in Bahrain published the English-language newspaper Gulf Mirror
Sir Geoffrey Furlonge
KBE, CMG (1904?-84), who read oriental languages at Cambridge before starting his diplomatic career in the Levant; he authored a biography of Musa Alami entitled Palestine is my Country;
(1912-73), Labour MP for Manchester Moss Side;
(1923- ), a Sheffield Labour MP;
(his particulars evade me);
(1928-96), who'd resigned from the Foreign Office over Suez, was a journalist who edited the Beirut-based Middle East Forum
and wrote regularly for several newspapers including The Economist
and The Guardian
, and was from 1961-67 Middle East correspondent of the Sunday Times
. His books as author or editor include The Middle East: A Political and Economic Survey
, Who's Who of
the Arab World
, Nasser's Egypt
, Nasser: A Biography
, The Arabs
, and A History of the Middle East
, whose details also evade me;
CMG, OBE (1916-90; Director of Administration); a diplomat, he was (1960-68) Deputy Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and proved a tireless, high-profile representative of CAABU;
Miss Manuela Sykes
, a Liberal Party activist and would-be MP who in the 1950s had chaired the Young Liberal International Committee.
|Halachically a Jew, though not prone to say so!|
The rest of the General Committee comprised:
(1923-88), famous as a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar who in 1970 caused a furore with a
book alleging that Christianity orginated in a "sex-and-mushroom" cult;
(1924-2008), an Old Wykehamist who went to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, served in the Hussars, and became a solicitor and Conservative MP for Chippenham, Wiltshire;
Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish
MP (l917-89; a prominent Tory backbencher (the inspiration for Private Eye
's buffoonish Sir Tufton Bufton although he was never as rightwing as his persona suggested) made a life peer as Lord Chelwood in 1974), halachically a Jew, though he seems not to have volunteered the fact (his father was a non-Jewish admiral but his mother was the sister of Sir Ernest Simon
and his maternal grandmother was an active shul member in Manchester and a Zionist, no less!), he had been outspokenly hostile to Israel's creation, and later formed a pro-Arab pressure group within the Tory Party);
, who appears from his writings to have been an economic libertarian and anti-statist, though how that connected with support for the Arabs is unclear;
Lord [Fenner] Brockway
(1888-1988), a former Labour MP who was well-known for his attachment to socialism and anti-colonialism;
(Sir) William Connor
(1909-67), the leftwing columnist "Cassandra" of the Daily Mirror
, who became a household name for the libel action brought against him by Liberace;
Major Derek Cooper
MC, OBE (1912-2007), who had served as a policeman in Mandate Palestine and in 1969 awarded the OBE for his work among Palestinians in the disputed territories. In the 1970s he and his well-connected wife Pamela undertook surveys of conditions facing Palestinians for Oxfam and for the International Committee for Palestine Human Rights. They worked for Oxfam in Beirut in 1982, through the summer of 1982, and in 1984 founded Medical Aid for Palestinians (see Gilmour, above);
MP (1905-78), an Ulster Unionist who was a barrister by profession and had served in the Royal Air Force;
, evidently a decorated major in the Army;
MP (1931-2013), a member of Labour's leftwing Tribune Group, represented the marginal seat of Lewisham West from 1966-70 and in 2003 left the Labour Party in protest at its support for the War in Iraq;
A. D. [(Sir; knighted 1973) Douglas] Dodds-Parker
MP (1909-2006); was an anti-Suez Conservative MP (Banbury, 1945-59; Cheltenham, 1964-74), who was Educated at Winchester and Oxford, he was a former member of the Sudan civil service, and was an undersecretary for foreign affairs (1953-54 and 1955-1957).
; he authored The Noble Sanctuary: Portrait of a Holy Place in Arab Jerusalem
Robert (Bob) Edwards
MP (1905-90), a former chairman of the Independent Labour Party (ILP); he was a Liverpool-born trade unionist who sat as a Labour MP from 1955-74, first for Bilston and latterly, briefly, for Wolverhampton South-East;
(1923-2000), a larger than life character with a big voice and beard and an ego to match, was an actor by profession, and the son of a Prebysterian missionary; it's been claimed that his overt support for the Arab cause cost him the chance of ministerial office;
Sir Dingle Foot
(1905-78; one of the trio of brothers dubbed "The Three Left Feet"); he'd been president of the Oxford Union and in the 1940s and 1950s was moderator of a BBC current affairs programme called In The News
; he was Labour MP for Ipswich from 1957-70, having previously been a Liberal MP;
CBE MP (1916-2008); a Cambridge-educated former colonial civil servant, he was Conservative MP for Liverpool Garston from 1966-74 and a whip and junior minister under Edward Heath;
Sir John Glubb
CMG, DSO, MC (1897-1986), who, being Glubb Pasha, needs no introduction;
Princess Dina Abdul Hamid
,(1929- ) King Hussein's first wife; in 1970 she had married the much younger Palestinian commando and high-ranking PLO official Asad Sulayman Abd al-Qadir, alias Salah Ta'amari;
John Alfred Haywood
, author of the widely acclaimed A New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language
; he's been a Sudan-based member of the colonial service and from 1955-78 taught Arabic at the University of Durham;
(1924-77), author and journalist, who once worked for the Guardian
but was best known as chief foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times
, fated to be shot dead in Cairo by assassins unidentified;
Dr Albert Hourani
(1915-93), an Oxford-educated scholar born in Manchester to Christian Lebanese parents;in the 1940s he'd worked succesively at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), in the office of the British Minister of State in Cairo, and at the Arab Office in Jerusalem and London; he subsequently taught at Oxford, where he founded and directed the Middle East Centre at St Antony's College; the author of A History of the Arab Peoples
(1991) and other works, he was Reader in the History of the Modern Middle East at Oxfor, and is said to have trained more academic historians of the modern Middle East than any other academi historian of his generation;
Carol Alfred Johnson
CBE, MP (1903-2000), Labour MP for Lewisham South from 1959-74 (notes his Guardian obituary: "In 1965, he wrote a report urging links between the six countries of the EEC and the Western European Union. He became secretary to the British Council of the European Movement and vice president of the Labour Committee for Europe. In 1974, he chastised the Economist for its "partisan" reporting of the Arab-Israeli war, and attacked Israeli intransigence in a letter to the Guardian"
Dr Kathleen Kenyon
CBE (1906-78; created a Dame in 1973), the distinguished archaeologist connected in particular with excavations in Jericho;
, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs who was editor of the Arab Report and Record
(his particulars evade me);
MBE; a journalist who authored several books on Arab countries, was director of a news agancy based in the Middle East, from where he'd also written for The Time
s, The Economist
, and The Observer
(Sir) [Harry] Neil Marten
MP (1916-85), an anti-EEC Conservative who represented Banbury from 1959-83 and held office under Margaret Thatcher; a solicitor and shipping adviser, he was, tellingly, for our purposes, he was employed by the Foreign Office from 1947-57.
(another who's hard to identify with certainty);
Mrs Elizabeth Monroe
, author of Britain's Moment in the Middle East, 1914-1956
(now gender realigned as Jan Morris
), who'd covered the Suez Crisis for the [then Manchester] Guardian and exposed the collusion between France and Israel;
MP (1923-2005; created life peer as Baron Orme of Salford in 1997), Labour MP for Salford seats from 1959-97; a Cabinet minister (1976-79), he also served (1987-92) as chairman of the parliamentary party, and was attached to such leftwing causes as the Movement for Colonial Freedom and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament;
(Sir) [Arthur] John Page
MP (1919-2008); educated at Harrow and Cambridge and knighted in 1984, he sat as Conservatove MP for Harrow West from 1960-87;
C. J. Parsons
(I have no idea of his details);
Professor Edith Penrose
(1914-96; American-born as Edith Tilton, she taught economics at the SOAS, having previously done so at the LSE and, earlier, at the University of Baghdad);
Sir John Richmond
(1909-90), a public school and Oxford-educated career diplomat who served with British military intelligence in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq during the Second World War; he was British ambassador to Kuwait (1961-63) and Sudan (1965-66), and then joined the Department of Islamic Studies at the University of Durham. ;
Miss Mary Rowlatt
, author of Founders of Modern Egypt
, whom I've been unable to identify (possibly the historian of that name
, who's apparently a Quaker);
, a journalist (Reuters, The Observer
) and author specialising in the Middle East, whose Jewish-born father, a native of Jerusalem, was a noted Arabist and theologian;
Sir Frederick Snow
(1899-1976), a notable civil and structural engineer;
Major-General Sir Edward Spears
|The very model of a part-Jewish major-general|
KBE, CB, MC (1886-1974; pictured left in 1942, the year he was knighted), who happened to be of part-Jewish extraction but, like Beamish, was decidedly reluctant to admit it; he had been a Liberal and then a Conservative MP. opposed to Appeasement, and had famously served in the Levant during the Second World War;
(an elusive member);
Mrs. Robert Stephens
(presumably the wife of Middle East specialist Robert Stephens, author of Nasser: A Political Biography
, and other works);
(1924-81), a journalist and author who spent many years in Cairo, an admirer of Nasser, his books include, of course, a well-known biography of Herzl (1974) and one of Lawrence of Arabia (1977);
Mrs M. O. Sykes
(possibly Manuela Sykes's mother);
Professor Arnold Toynbee
(1889-1975), the Winchester and Balliol-educated historian, who was a consultant to government regarding the Middle East; notes Wiipedia:
".... His stance during World War I reflected less sympathy for the Arab cause and a pro-Zionist outlook. He also expressed support for a Jewish State in Palestine, which he believed had "begun to recover its ancient prosperity" as a result. Toynbee investigated Zionism in 1915 at the Information Department of the Foreign Office, and in 1917 he published a memorandum with his colleague Lewis Namier which supported exclusive Jewish political rights in Palestine. In 1922 he was influenced by the Palestine Arab delegation which was visiting London, and he adopted their views. His subsequent writings show the way he changed his outlook on the subject, and in the late 1930s he moved away from supporting the Zionist cause and moved toward the Arab camp. By the 1950s he was an opponent of the state of Israel";
Miss Penelope Turing
(1925-2010), who was an acknowledged authority on opera, especially of the Wagnerian kind.;
(I'm not sure of his identity);
, a Middle East scholar specialisng in Ancient Egypt;
OBE (1903-87), author of Sultans of Aden
and other works, was head (1949-59) of the Eastern Service of the BBC, and head (1959-64) of the Arabic Service at the BBC;
(Sir) William Thomas (Tom) Williams QC, MP
(1915-86), an Oxford-educated Welshman who was a Baptist minister before being called to the Bar in 1951; he sat as a Labour MP for various constituencies between 1949 and 1981, served as Recorder of Birkenhead 1969-71, Recorder of the Crown Court 1972-81, and in 1981 became a High Court Judge. (Wikipedia states that in 1969 he "was appointed by the then-East Pakistan based Awami League, one of Bangladesh's main political factions since independence in 1971, to represent Pakistani and later-Bangladeshi politician Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the Agartala Conspiracy Case. The military junta of Gen. Ayub Khan did not allow [him] to represent Rahman, citing domestic security and interference in sovereign matters."
In his speech, Mayhew went on to observe:
"None of the founders of CAABU, I feel sure, expected to enjoy the experience of challenging the Zionist lobby ... but it was plainly a job that had to be done by someone. Moreover, there are always compensations in supporting wildly unpopular causes. To begin with, nobody joins you for a beer, so that your companions tend to be people of genuine conviction. Moreover, in a situation where everyone desperately needs mutual encouragement, personal relations tend to flourish. There have been notably few resignations or quarrels in CAABU during the past ten years. Sadly, death has removed some of our most vauled colleagues. We remember, for example, Arnold Toynbee, Tom Little, Will Griffiths and Nevill Barbour."
Later in the speech, Mayhew reflected:
'It is extraordinary, looking back, to see how many statements about the Middle East that are now uncontroversial were considered, ten years ago, not merely wrong but wicked. In June, 1967, a Guardian report of a meeting of the Labour Party's Foreign Affairs Group contained the following passage
"Bitterness came to the surface when Mr Mayhew began to speak .... the interruptions began when he argued that it was wrong to talk in terms of racial extermination by the Arab forces .... he was almost shouted down when he went on to claim that the existence of the Palestinian refugees was the root of the crisis".
If the same speech were made today, the audience, instead of shouting the speaker down, would gently fall asleep."
.... There are still some aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict which cannot be freely discussed in the press or on radio or television. For example, the proposition that Zionism is racialist, or that Zionists have dual loyalties; but these propositions, though true and important, are not central to the basis argument. Other criticisms of Zionism and of Israel appear quite frequently nowadays in the media....
This advance was, of course, only partly due to the pressure of CAABU and its supporters. A much more important cause was the better showing of the Arabs in the war of 1973, and their subsequent growth of wealth and power, which compelled the world to listen to them.....
We have come a long way in ten years. To begin with we were regarded as barely respectable: now we are part of the Establishment, officially visited by the Foreign Secretary. We are becoming part of the European establishment too....'
During his speech Mayhew announced:
"I cannot resist giving a rather colourful and clearcut example of the collapse of a Zionist myth. At the time of the June War, it was stridently asserted by Zionist propaganda, and almost universally believed in the West, that President Nasser had threatened to drive the Israelis into the sea. This belief, for which there was no evidence at all, had a powerful effect on public and parliamentary opinion at the time.
|From a Lebanese newspaper of 1967|
Eventually [in 1973], when it was quoted against me by a Zionist MP during a television programme I was taking part in, I then and there offered to pay £5000 [about £30,000 to £50,000 in today's money] to any of the millions of viewers who could produce any evidence for Nasser's statement. Later [also 1973], in the House of Commons, I repeated the offer and broadened it to include genocidal statements by other Arab leaders.
A steady trickle of letters came in from eager claimants, each one producing some blood-curdling quotation from an Arab leader, usually culled straight from some pro-Israeli publication. I replied to each claimant, explaining that the quotation was mistranslated, or wrongly attributed or invented, as the case might be, but always adding that if the claimant was not satisfied he could take me to Court, and if I lost I would pay up.
Eventually one claimant [Warren Bergson: see Jewish Chronicle, 27 Feb. 1976] did take me to Court. Perhaps significantly he offered no evidence for Nasser's statement. Instead, he produced a chilling genocidal threat alleged by pro-Israelis to have been made by the then Secretary-General of the Arab League Azzam Pasha in 1948. However, when we produced the original statement in Arabic, the claimant could not deny that his English version was a flagrant and apparently deliberate mistranslation, and he immediately tried to withdraw his writ. But I refused to allow this, and on the 23rd February last year , his Counsel declared in the High Court of Justice that his client offered his apologies and acknowledged that after thorough research he had been unable to find any statement by a responsible Arab leader which could be described as genocidal.
I should add that this admission by Counsel was not reported in any British newspaper, many of which had helped to propagate these slanders in the first place. Nevertheless, since the Court case, the Israelis and pro-Israelis seem to have stopped this line of propaganda, which did a good deal after the 1967 War to blacken the Arabs' reputation and to increase tension all round.
Finally, since the Court case took place after the General Election, it did not prevent enthusiastic Zionists from circulating 15,000 leaflets in the constituency I was fighting, informing the voters that I was not a man to be trusted because I was refusing to pay out £5,000 to claimants who had sent me chapter and verse for genocidal statements by Arab leaders."
For the record, I asked several Middle East scholars whether Nasser did, in fact, say the words widely attributed to him. One told me:
'The book by Theodore Draper, Israel & World Politics [New York: Viking 1968], presents extensive quotes from Nasser's speeches in the weeks leading up to the war. On p 222, we read: "The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel." He said this before the Central Council of International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions on 26 May 1967. I am sure that you could find additional quotes to the same effect if you read the appendices of the book.
I also suggest the Israeli documentary film on the war, Six Days to Eternity. It shows a million-strong mob on the streets of Cairo deliriously calling for a war to destroy Israel, carrying skull-&-crossbones flags & banners.
I don't think that Nasser threatened the Jews of Israel that they would be thrown into the sea, in 1967. However, he did make such genocide threats as did Ahmad Shukairy, shortly before the 6 Day War.
Moreover, The threat to throw the Jews into the sea was made in the 1947-1948 period by an Arab here in Israel. And this threat with the person's name is recorded in Dominique Lapierre's O Jerusalem. Dominique Lapierre had a cowriter for this book. I forget his name at the moment. But I suggest you check out that book, O Jerusalem.
Abdul-Rahman Azzam Pasha did in fact threaten the Jews in Israel with "Mongol massacres" [he used the word Tartar instead of Mongol]. These words and more appeared in an interview with an Egyptian paper, [Akhbar al-Yom?] on 11 October 1947. A somewhat similar statement by Azzam appears in a book by Kenneth Bilby, New Star in the Near East, or some such title.
Mayhew was one of the worst haters of Israel in the UK'
'If the claim is that the phrase itself never passed Nasser's lips, that's possible. If the claim is that Nasser never threatened to wage genocidal war against Israel, that's idiotic.
Abba Eban's My Journey has a section in the index on Nasser, verbal assaults on Israel. It goes to...
* "Israel is the greatest crime in history"
* Existence of Israel is a "stain," "a shame," "a disgrace", "a bleeding wound"
* [Quoted the communique signed jointly by Nasser and Aref in 1963]: "the aim of the Arabs is the destruction of Israel"
* "We are face-to-face with Israel. Hence-forward the situation, my gallant soldiers, is in your hands. Our armed forces have occupied Sharm el-Sheikh. We shall on no account allow the Israeli flag to pass through the Gulf of Nastier. The Jews threaten to make war. I reply, 'ahlan wasahlan,' welcome. We are ready for war: this water is ours."
* "Today we tell the Israelis we are facing you in the battle and are burning with the desire for it to begin. This will make the world realize what the Arabs are and what Israel is"
* [About Nasser and Hussein conspiring on an open line to blame the US for attacking them, risking global nuclear war in the process; note that 'destruction' is a quote]: "... as the victims of Great Power aggression than as having suffered defeat by the despised Jews whose 'destruction' Nasser had been predicting with a loud voice"
From there Nasser gets a lot less publicly ambitious, and falls into post-1967 "what was taken by war must be regained by war" rhetoric. Catastrophic losses will do that.'
(I've taken Mayhew's speech from the 10-page pamphlet CAABU's Tenth Anniversary
, published in London by the Arab-British Centre in 1977. If anybody knows the particulars of the people I've failed to identify, please leave a comment to that effect.)