- The Board of Deputies of British Jews is considering
making a complaint to the police over a newspaper interview with the poet
Tom Paulin in which he is reported as saying that American-born settlers
in Israel should be shot dead.
- Paulin, who appears regularly on the panel of the BBC2
arts programme Newsnight Review (formerly Late Review), allegedly made
the comment in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.
- The interviewer wrote that Paulin, a consistent critic
of Israeli conduct towards the Palestinians, clearly abhorred "Brooklyn-born"
Jewish settlers. Paulin, a lecturer at Hertford College, Oxford, was then
quoted as saying: "They should be shot dead.
- "I think they are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing
but hatred for them." Earlier in the interview, he was quoted as saying:
"I never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all."
- Yesterday the board said it was consulting its lawyers
over the comments with a view to making a complaint to the police under
the terms of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act. This prohibits
the making of comments that incite violence against identifiable groups
outside the UK.
- Mike Whine, a spokesman for the board, said: "The
latter part of his [Paulin's] interview where he is quoted as suggesting
that Israel has no right to exist and he would like to kill American-Jewish
immigrants to Israel is, technically at least, illegal.
- "Whether or not the Crown Prosecution Service would
prosecute him is a matter for them to decide." Mr Whine said the poet
had clearly gone beyond opposition to Zionism and was promoting hatred
- Neville Nagler, director general of the board, said:
"These are the words of a man filled with hate and fanaticism."
Paulin was also reported by the newspaper as saying that he had resigned
from the Labour Party because the Blair government was a Zionist government.
- The Palestinians, he said, had to meet force with force,
and needed good anti-tank weapons. On the subject of suicide bombers, the
paper quoted him as saying: "I can understand how suicide bombers
feel. It is an expression of deep injustice and tragedy.
- "I think, though, that it is better to resort to
conventional guerrilla warfare. I think that attacks on civilians in fact
boost morale. Hitler bombed London into submission, but in fact it created
a sense of national solidarity."
- Paulin, a respected poet, essayist and critic with a
love of controversy, once lost his temper on Late Review when Germaine
Greer, a fellow panellist, expressed sympathy for British paratroopers
involved in the shootings on Bloody Sunday.
- Accusing Miss Greer of talking rubbish, Paulin, the product
of a liberal Protestant family from Northern Ireland, went on: "They
[the paratroopers] were thugs sent in by public schoolboys to kill innocent
Irish people. They were rotten, racist bastards."
- He has locked horns with the leaders of Britain's Jewish
community before. Last year he published a poem, Killed in Crossfire, in
which he likened the Israeli army to a "Zionist SS".
- But he vehemently denied allegations that he was anti-semitic,
citing his anger at the way the anti-semitism of TS Eliot, addressed in
a study by Anthony Julius, had been ignored.
- Answering a letter from Mr Nagler published in a national
newspaper, Paulin said: "What is so galling is that people like [Neville]
Nagler think that they can insinuate anti-semitism and leave it at that.
- "I am a philo-semite, and I repudiate his letter
with contempt." When contacted by The Telegraph yesterday, Paulin
said: "I'm sorry, I've got nothing to say."