GEORGE Kerevan saddened me when he wrote about the negative view that attached to Patrick Geddes and his work on the Hebrew University in 1919, of which only the library was built by his son-in-law Frank Mears (There is more in Israel-Palestine for Scots to discuss than meets the eye, May 24).

In correspondence with my grandfather about my aunt attending his Scots College in Montpelier, Geddes forcibly expressed his then radical beliefs in the Scottish universities being better than the southern ones and in the flaws of the imperial view.

He spent much time in India and in Ahmedabad surveyed the walls of that city, noting the relationship between the fabric and the defences, a pattern seen from Edinburgh to Vienna. This exercise was repeated by students of architecture from Edinburgh a year ago, with one of my grandchildren being involved.

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A few years before that, alert architects known to me from the same university rescued much Geddes material from a skip. The American Lewis Mumford said: “Geddes was on the side of life. He challenged every success that was bought at the expense of self-renewal”. I respect Geddes.

The Hebrew language was constructed in the 19th century from Aramaic and modern European languages and is now the official language of Israel. It was of great interest to Scots writers of Geddes’ time who were being criticised for creating a “synthetic” Scots, which of course they were not.

Geddes would have been enthused with the best educational motives in establishing a college that would have been built in the fabric of an old city and involved in life-enhancing academic work.

Geddes died in 1932, long before the State of Israel was founded in 1948. He must be read in context.

Iain WD Forde