Here’s a history quiz: Who’s to blame for all the turmoil in the Middle East? If you answered “foreign Jews,” congratulations—you may be the next in line for the British throne.
This weekend, the Daily Mail published a letter the aging royal wrote his pal, the Afrikaner explorer Laurens van der Post, in 1986, after returning from a visit to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.”This tour has been fascinating and have learnt a lot about Middle East and Arab outlook,” wrote the prince, sounding like the Bertie Wooster of international affairs. “Tried to read a bit of Koran on way out and it gave me some insight into way they think and operate.”
This newly acquired bit of insight, the letter goes on, gleaned from some casual in-flight reading and a few chats with moneyed sheikhs, has led his royal highness to a profound understanding of the Israeli-Arab conflict. “It is the influx of foreign, European Jews,” he wrote his friend, “(especially from Poland, they say) which has helped to cause great problems.”
And how to address these problems? Again, leave it to the Prince of Wales to identify the culprits and come up with a clever solution. “Surely,” the letter concludes, “some US president has to have the courage to stand up and take on the Jewish lobby in the US?”
This inflammatory statement, said Stephen Pollard, the editor of The Jewish Chronicle, “is what everyone has always said the British aristocracy actually thinks–the idea that Jews were some kind of foreigners who had no real place in Israel until we decided to make it their homeland. Historically it is nonsense and it’s quite stunning when it comes from the heir to the throne.”
To be fair, in 2013, Charles did become the first royal to attend a chief rabbi’s inauguration, and has traveled to Israel on numerous occasions since writing his letter. Let’s hope the years have made him wiser.