LONDON (Jan. 10)
Anonymous bomb threats forced the cancellation of a formal dinner in honor of Herut leader Menachem Beigin here last night and the cancellation of an assembly that Beigin was to have addressed. The dinner was to have been hold at the Royal Garden Hotel. The guest list of 500 included the Israeli Ambassador and the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The hotel management informed the sponsors of the event, the British Herut-Hatzohar, that they would have to cancel the affair because of bomb threats.
The owners of the Central Hall in West minister, a Methodist group, gave the same reason for cancelling the assembly. A statement issued later by Herut-Hatzohar said the cancellations represented “a grave blow to freedom of speech in this country.” It did not mention the bomb threats. The same group reported later that a number of synagogues in London refused to let their halls for meetings be used for speeches by Beigin although there was no security problem in their case.
Beigin, leader of the opposition Gahal faction in the Israeli Knesset, a former Cabinet minister and former chief of the underground Irgun Zvai Leumi which battled the British in mandated Palestine before 1948, declared that he would not curtail his stay in Britain which he is visiting for the first time. He arrived here with his wife last night and is scheduled to leave on Wednesday.
IRGUN SAVED LIVES
At a press conference this morning Beigin said he preferred not to dwell on the past. But in response to questions from British newsmen he sought to Justify the Irgun’s activities a quarter of a century ago as a battle for liberation in which “We did our utmost to save human lives.”
He added, “We have never been hostile to Britain. The fight is over. I notice that Makarios, Kenyatta, De Valera in his time (leaders of the independence movements in Cyprus, Kenya and Ireland respectively) were all extended warm hospitality in this country after the fight was over. The reason I am treated differently is because I am a Jew. If this is the reason why an exception is made in my case, I am proud to accept it.” Beigin did not say, however, why he thought he was not being treated hospitably in Britain. He did not refer to the bomb threats. But he expressed his gratitude to British authorities for their “smooth and efficient security arrangements.”
Beigin claimed that “97 percent of all Israelis are against retreat to the 1967 boundaries.” He said Israel wanted peace but “shall not permit another Munich in the Middle East.” He claimed that “there is a community of interests between Israel and the West in regard to the Suez Canal” because “the reopening of the canal would change the balance of power in favor of the Soviet Union.” He addressed a meeting last night of some 300 Israeli students, some of whom fired hostile questions at the right-wing leader. But the meeting went off without incident and ended with a rousing ovation for Beigin.
He also addressed the first Herut conference here, attended by 100 supporters of the Israeli opposition faction.