The Palestinians- Cont'd
To the Editor:
Astonished readers have called my attention to a supposed quotation from me in a letter in the March issue by Gary V. Smith (in a discussion of David Gutmann’s article, “The Palestinian Myth,” October 1975). I have no record or recollection of having written the passage attributed to me in a supposed publication called Jerusalem Embattled. The inflammatory passage described Jews using loudspeakers in the war of 1948 in Jerusalem, warning Arabs to flee the city “or you will all be killed.”
I was not in Jerusalem during the war of 1948, but in Paris completing my documentary film, The Illegals, after having been expelled from Palestine by the British on arriving on a refugee ship. I have carefully searched my files and find no publication with the title Jerusalem Embattled. I reached Mr. Smith by telephone and he told me he had not directly seen such a publication but had taken his citation from an article by Erskine Childers in the London Spectator of May 12, 1961. Unfortunately my attention had not been called to that article until now, or I would have demanded verification before this.
This is not the first time my name has been used for a twisted presentation. Last year a neo-Nazi publication, widely noticed in England and asserting that “there were no six million Jews” murdered in the Holocaust, offered as evidence of this “hoax” a monstrous perversion of my relationship to the Diary of Anne Frank by asserting that the diary itself was a hoax because I had sued Otto Frank over the use of material in it which I was alleged to have written! The lawsuit, of course, was over the Broadway dramatization of the diary, which, a jury found, made considerable use of stage ideas from a previous dramatization written by myself. Indeed the basis of my contention was that the Broadway play had omitted important statements as to the meaning of the Holocaust, written by Anne Frank in her diary.
Coupling my name with the others cited by Mr. Smith tends to persuade readers that “even Meyer Levin” says so, and is injurious to me, but more important, propagandistic in intention. So far as I could ascertain by talking to Jews and Arabs after the 1948 war, there was at first a departure of Arab notables that surprised and even alarmed the Jews; this departure stimulated a larger outflow. Much can be attributed to war panic. Allegations from both sides about the stimulation of departure can be “proven” in the way that almost anything can be “proven” by isolated incidents and distorted accounts in the partisanship and disorder of war. I have never been unsympathetic to the Arabs, never ceased to hope for reasonable and peaceful solutions of our tragic situation, but I cannot condone the use of human lives, human misery protracted for propagandistic purposes, and the stimulation of terror and murder as a way of rule.
New York City
To the Editor:
In my letter in the March issue I quoted Meyer Levin from a book entitled Jerusalem Embattled. My source was Erskine Childers’s “The Other Exodus” (Spectator [London] May 12, 1961, p. 673). A quick trip to the library uncovered that the author of the quotation was Harry Levin. The full title of the publication is Jerusalem Embattled: A Diary of the City under Seige—March 25, 1948 to July 18, 1948. It was published in 1950 in London by Gollancz. My apologies to Meyer Levin.
Gary V. Smith