This week the Mail on Sunday published a letter from Prince Charles to his friend Laurens van der Post written over 30 years ago. The contents of the letter have sparked controversy and concern for the Jewish community.
In the letter, dated 24 November 1986, the then 38-year-old Prince stated a number of views he had heard from Muslims during his visit, including that they saw Israel as a “US colony” and that they see the “influx of foreign European Jews” as causing “great problems”.
He goes on to suggest that this could be one of the causes of terrorism and that in order to stop terror, they need to “eliminate” it. He then muses about a US president having the “courage to stand up and take on the Jewish lobby”.
The “Jewish lobby” quote has been particularly galling for Jewish groups as there is a long held anti-Semitic view that “Jews control the media” or “Jew control the world” and often anti-Semites make out that it is the actions of an all-powerful “Jewish lobby” doing this.
The full letter reads as follows:
Am on way to Cyprus & Italy having passed through Suez Canal. Lovely having 3 days at sea.
This tour has been fascinating and have learnt a lot about Middle East and Arab outlook.
Tried to read bit of Koran on way out and it gave me some insight into way they think and operate.
Don’t think they could understand us through reading Bible though. Much admire some aspects of Islam – especially accent on hospitality and accessibility of rulers.
Also begin to understand their point of view about Israel. Never realised they see it as a US colony.
I now appreciate that Arabs and Jews were all a Semitic people originally + it is the influx of foreign, European Jews (especially from Poland, they say) which has helped cause great problems.
I know there are so many complex issues, but how can there ever be an end to terrorism unless the causes are eliminated?
Surely some US president has to have the courage to stand up and take on the Jewish lobby in US? I must be naïve, I suppose!
While this letter is shocking, there is no suggestion that the Prince of Wales is himself anti-Semitic or that he holds these views today.
A statement from Clarence House published by the Jewish News on Sunday made clear that the opinions were “not the Prince’s own views”, but instead reflected the opinions of those he met on his trip. It said:
“The letter clearly states that these were not The Prince’s own views about Arab-Israeli issues but represented the opinions of some of those he met during his visit which he was keen to interrogate.”
“He was sharing the arguments in private correspondence with a long standing friend in an attempt to improve his understanding of what he has always recognised is a deeply complex issue to which he was coming early on in his own analysis in 1986.”
“Over the years, The Prince has continued his study of the complex and difficult themes he referenced here. He has built a proven track record of support for both Jewish and Arab communities around the world and has a long history of promoting interfaith dialogue and cultural understanding.”