In a newly revealed letter from 1986 , the UK’s Prince Charles implied that the “influx of foreign, European Jews” to Israel was to blame for fueling the Israeli-Arab conflict, and lamented that US presidents were unwilling to take on the American “Jewish lobby.”
The November 24, 1986 letter was written to a friend, explorer Laurens van der Post, after a visit to the Gulf with Princess Diana. It was published by the Mail on Sunday. Charles wrote that he now had a greater insight to Arabs’ hostility towards Israel following the trip.
“Also begin to understand their point of view about Israel. Never realized they see it as a US colony,” he wrote. “I now appreciate that Arabs and Jews were all a Semitic people originally + it is the influx of foreign, European Jews (especially from Poland, they say) which has helped to cause great problems.”
Charles, who was 38 at the time, then suggested the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel was a root cause of terrorism that needed to be addressed.
“I know there are so many complex issues, but how can there ever be an end to terrorism unless the causes are eliminated?,” he wrote.
It was not clear from the letter whether he was referring to European Jews immigrating to Israel before or after the Holocaust and the country’s establishment in 1948.
Charles also wrote he hoped a US president would take on the “Jewish lobby,” presumably in order to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict.
“Surely some US president has to have the courage to stand up and take on the Jewish lobby in US?,” wrote Charles. “I must be naive, I suppose.”
Following the publication of the letter, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle weekly called its content “jaw-droppingly shocking” and criticized the prince’s use of the term “Jewish lobby.”
“To me this is the most astonishing element of the Prince’s letter. The ‘Jewish lobby’ is one of the anti-Semitic themes that have endured for centuries. It is this myth there are these very powerful Jews who control foreign policy or the media or banks or whatever,” the Mail quoted Stephen Pollard as saying.
Pollard also said the views in the letter expressed by Charles were “the absolute classic Arab explanation of the problems in the Middle East.”
“And it 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,” said Pollard. “Historically it is nonsense and it’s quite stunning when it comes from the heir to the throne.”
A spokeswoman for Prince Charles said the letter was not reflective of his views but only relaying arguments he encountered during his trip.
“He was sharing the arguments in private correspondence with a long-standing friend in an attempt to improve his understanding of what he has always recognized is a deeply complex issue to which he was coming early on in his own analysis in 1986,” the spokeswoman said.
She also said Prince Charles “has continued his study of the complex and difficult themes he referenced here” and defended his “proven track record of support for both Jewish and Arab communities around the world” and promotion of interfaith dialogue.
President Reuven Rivlin in March publicly extended an invitation to Prince Charles to visit Israel during the centennial year of the 1917 signing of the Balfour Declaration, although UK media reports said the prince would not visit the Jewish state in 2017.
Though never officially confirmed by London or Jerusalem, a senior British Jewish community leader told The Times of Israel last November that plans were underway for a member of the royal family to visit Israel for the first time.
According to The Sun tabloid, the Royal Visits Committee, the branch of the Foreign Office that coordinates trips on behalf of the royal family, nixed the visit in an apparent effort “to avoid upsetting Arab nations in the region who regularly host UK Royals.”
No British royal has ever made an official visit to Israel
The report said Rivlin’s invitation never reached the office of Prince Charles.
While royals have visited Israel in the past, no representative of the British monarchy has ever come to the country on an official “royal tour.”
Prince Charles’s attendance at Shimon Peres’s funeral last year and the funeral of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994 did not include diplomatic meetings and are not considered official royal visits. Nor was a brief 1994 visit by his father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, to attend a ceremony commemorating his mother, Alice of Battenberg, who is buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
Despite numerous invitations over the years, no UK government has approved such a visit to Israel since the end of the British Mandate and the establishment of the state in 1948.
Israeli officials have bristled at royals’ unwillingness to come to the Jewish state, while they appear to have no qualms about visiting authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.