Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Then as now

Posted on: April 21, 2022

Today being the sixth day of Passover, I decided to return some of the Pesach crockery to the top shelf of the big cupboard in my spare room. I had to remove suitcases and hangers from the cupboard until I could insert a kitchen chair with some degree of stability. I then climbed on the chair and returned some large plates, small plates, cups and saucers to their place. Moving my hand along the shelf to see what was there, I found a cardboard box, which I realized immediately would contain memorabilia which had belonged to my parents. I came down from the chair and out of the cupboard, with the box. It was full of letters, one from me aged fourteen, to my sister, written while on holiday. I related, with humorous asides, the experience of a student making a pass at me while thinking I was of legal age and that he withdrew when I told him I was fourteen.

There are letters to my parents and grandmother from my aunt in Sydney, Australia.

There is a glowing reference for my father, from the headmaster at the school where he taught although I know he remained on the staff for several more years.

Then there is this letter to the Observer, written early in 1960. The context is clear. The bereaved father of a British soldier killed in Mandate Palestine, 1947, had compared this to the Nazi genocide. Then as now, anything heinous was being compared to the Holocaust, a word which did not yet have currency in this context. Like many of us now, my father pointed out the error – I would say indecency – of the comparison. The occupation he refers to is the British occupation of what was Mandate Palestine until the State of Israel achieved independence in 1948.

His words about terrorists fighting occupation refer to the Irgun and Lehi, not the long terrorism of anti-Zionist violence in Israel and the diaspora. If someone challenged him today with a view to justifying Palestinian acts of terror, I think he would say that not everything can bear comparison but, in any case, he did not attempt to justify the activities of the Irgun or Lehi.

I don’t know if The Observer published his letter to the editor, but here it is, sixty-two years on.

ברוך אתה ” מחיה המתים

The Editor

The Observer

26 January 1960

Dear Sir

I am certain that Mr XXX of Bristol has everyone’s sympathy in the grievous loss he sustained by the murder of his son in Palestine in 1947 but to suggest, even indirectly, that these very sad but fortunately comparatively rare events, carried out by extreme right wing groups, whose activities are repudiated by thoughtful and moderate opinion, can bear any comparison to the organised campaign of mass extermination which was the deliberate and avowed intent of the Nazi government, is no more than the result of prejudiced thinking.

Whenever armies are in immediate occupation, and where the desire for freedom and self-determination among the occupied is paramount, clashes of an atrocious nature are bound to occur on both sides.

Mr XXX’s son was a victim of political and military circumstances and I am sure that right-thinking and humanitarian elements in Israel, as indeed they do everywhere else, deprecate most sincerely occurrences of this nature.

Yours sincerely

J Pressman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: I'd send a thumbs up but I don't think emojis are available here.
  • keithmarr: Gillian I must admit I’ve stopped reading their posts but value your doing so and your subsequent summary of it all. I find these people very sa
  • cdsmiller17: It seems that young people are still mourning the fate of this man, too.
%d bloggers like this: