LONDON (Apr. 8)
A pro-Arab Labor MP accused the Royal Palace yesterday of having made “a serious error of judgement” in agreeing that the Duke of Edinborough would address a Jewish National Fund dinner here May 7 marking the establishment of a forest in Israel in honor of the Queen’s Silver Wedding anniversary. Prince Philip will speak at the dinner and will be presented with a special volume marking the event.
Christopher Mayhew, a champion of the Arab cause in and out of Parliament said in a statement that the Palace advisors “should distinguish more carefully between showing good will toward the Jewish community in Britain and giving political support to a state which in the eyes of the world is almost as controversial and unpopular as South Africa.” Mayhew, who served as Undersecretary at the Foreign Office when the late Ernest Beyin was Britain’s Foreign Minister, also accused the Jewish community of “at best…an error of judgement” and “at worst they have taken the Palacer for a ride.”
Michael Fidler, a Conservative MP who is president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, stated that the one million tree forest in honor of the Queen and the Royal Consort was intended as “a token of respect and admiration” and has no political significance.
The campaign to raise money for the forest went on for over a year without reaction from either the Arabs or their friends here. Mayhew’s ire was apparently aroused by the recent announcement that Prince Philip would address the public dinner at the Guild Hall. Arab ambassadors have reportedly discussed the matter and are said to be planning a joint protest to the Foreign Office. A Foreign Office source told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “We are not involved. This is a symbolic gesture and it is between Her Majesty and her citizens. It has no political aspect whatsoever.”