LONDON (Aug. 23)
The annual congress of P.E.N., the international writers’ organization, opens here tomorrow under the shadow of a bitter row between Israel and Egypt. The Egyptians have threatened to call for the expulsion of Israel, accusing it of “racism.” The Israelis, on the other hand, have taken exception to the naming of a notorious anti-Semitic publicist as head of the Egyptian delegation. He is Dr. Anis Mansour, who writes frequently in various newspapers on cultural, historical and religious subjects.
On Dec. 3, 1975, the Cairo journal, Akher Saa, carried one of his articles which contained the statement: “The Jews are guilty, for they injure people…. They poke about in their plight and disturb international security and peace among nations….The world can only curse the Jews and the day on which He placed them on earth and made them part of His creation.”
Attention was drawn to Mansour’s article by Aharon Megged, an Israeli author, who attended a P.E.N. executive meeting a few weeks ago. The P.E.N. secretariat protested to the Egyptian P.E.N. center in Cairo about Mansour’s article. Its first message was ignored. But in reply to a reminder, P.E.N, was informed that Mansour would head the Egyptian delegation to the annual congress and that he and his colleagues would call for Israel’s expulsion.
SLIM CHANCE FOR APPROVAL
Today, the executive was deciding whether to include the Egyptian resolution on the agenda, even though it was tabled long after the appropriate date. Even if it were tabled, the congress circles said, it did not stand a chance of being adopted.
Moshe Dor, Israeli cultural attache in London said the Egyptian may have taken this step in the belief that attack was the best form of defense. Meanwhile, Mansour had still not arrived at the conference hotel late this afternoon and doubts were growing as to whether he would turn up at all.
Lebanon is the only other Arab country which belongs to the P.E.N. movement. Eastern European countries are represented but the Soviet Union has only observer status. Its team is led by Nikolai Federenko, former Ambassador to the UN Security Council.
Any anti-Israel move, however, will find a far less sympathetic response than in UNESCO. Stephen Spender, who as head of the British delegation, is the Congress’s host, was one of several English writers and poets who attacked UNESCO’s sanctions against Israel last year. The Israeli delegates are A.B.Yaffe and Chaim Toren.