IN A SAD reminiscence, Curtis Jones tells us what he learned in a 29-year career in the Foreign Service. Most notably, he learned that "In the Mideast of the future there would be room for Jews, but not for a Jewish state." Israel will have to disappear.

In addition, Jones says he discovered that the entire foreign policy process, as it relates to U.S. interests in the Middle East, is dominated by a special interest group which he identifies as "the Israeli lobby." This group, he suggests, even manages to manipulate the government's personnel system to keep "Arabists" like Jones from key Mideast policymaking positions on the National Security Council staff and at the assistant secretary level in the State Department.

Indeed, Jones tells us that he personally was the victim of this special interest group. In a 1971 article, for example, columnist Joseph Kraft -- doubtless a member of the conspiracy -- characterized Jones as "one of the most ardent supporters of the Arab side in the quarrel with Israel." That is obviously an accurate description, as Jones' words themselves attest, and yet Jones somehow suggests that Kraft's description was not "kind."

On another occasion, during a State Department-sponsored speaking tour to explain U.S. foreign policy at Utah colleges, two colleagues from the State Department (I was one one of them) made a "spirited rebuttal" when Jones "combined a synopsis of contemporary Mideast policy with a statement of my own reasons for considering that policy defective."

What Jones did in Utah was to expand on his theme that Israel would someday have to cease existing. Since Israel is doomed to disappear in any case, he said, it is only intelligent for the United States to shape policy around this eventuality, so that when Israel does vanish it will be at less cost to America.

The Utah incident seems to have been particularly traumatic for Jones. He says he was never again sent out to represent the State Department on speaking tours, clearly more evidence of a conspiracy at work. Characteristically, Jones doesn't seem to consider that the State Department might decline to use as explainers of America policy those who instead attack American policy.

In any event, Jones says that though he thereafter was offered an ambassadorship, which is hardly an example of persecution, he chose instead to retire a sadder, wiser man.

There are other milestones to note in the education of Curtis Jones:

American "Arabists" are the people best qualified to interpret U.S. interests in the Mideast. Only they have the requisite knowledge and objectivity. Jewish Americans have "private loyalties" and evidently should be "separated from their jobs," if they have any in this area. Yet that conspiring "special interest group -- the Israeli lobby" has managed to keep the "Arabists" out of the key posts they deserve.

These propositions become all the more impressive when we recall that Jones tells us that many of his insights about the Mideast were developed on the tennis court, one of the few places, he says, where Arabs would speak freely to him. It was Jones' access to the tennis-playing public in Arab countries that enabled him "to get a subliminal feel of the local situation," and thus qualified him to prescribe Mideast policy for America.

While "Arabists" have been attacked at home by "that special interest group," Arab resentment abroad at the "unique relationship" between Israel and the United States has resulted in "Arabists" being "subjected to a constant barrage of condemnation of U.S. policy." They not only have been "shunned by citizens of their countries of assignment," but have had to "cope with the ever-present risk of terrorism for which some of our colleagues paid the ultimate price in Khartoum and Beirut."

One of the many interesting features in the Jonesian mental universe is the suspension of the normal rules of cause and effect. Responsibility for the death of U.S. diplomats in Khartoum and Beirut rests not with the Arab gunmen who shot them. After all, they were simply protesting what Jones believes to be a mistaken policy. Implicitly, therefore, responsibility for these deaths ultimately must lie with Jewish Americans, that "influential and articulate segment of the American electorate" that has battened the "unique relationship" onto American foreign policy.

Behind everything lurks the irony that although the U.S.-Israeli relationship is "rationalized" in various ways, it stems from no true American interest, strategic, economic, political or moral. Instead, it "arises from the simple fact that the survival of Israel is of overriding concern for an influential and articulate segment of the American electorate."

This is part of the marvelous simplicity of the Jonesian universe. Since the major policy problem of the Mideast is the Arab-Isreal vendetta, and since (as Jones assures us) no reconciliation between Israel and its Arab neighbors can ever be achieved, the only solution possible is to make Israel disapper. No Israel, no problem.

So, too, an American policy which does not accept this wisdom must be the result of a conspiracy. That every president since Harry Truman has not paid heed to Jones-type insights simply proves to Jones that conspiracy's extent and its seriousness.

That there is broad sentiment in America for the continued survival of Israel must also stem from some conspiracy. How else to explain, for example, Congress' overwhelming adoption last year -- unanimous in the Senate, 401-to-3 in the House -- of a resolution calling on the executive branch to cease participation in and funding of any United Nations body which illegally expels Israel from its ranks?

What, then, are we to make of the conspiracy Jones brings to our attention and of its effects on the State Department?

I think we are entitled to wonder whether someone who seems so incapable of understanding his own society, and who is prepared to believe that a central facet of American foreign policy has been maintained for 30- plus years by a combination of ledgerdermain and gall, has any capability at all of analyzing the politics of other societies and of making informed policy judgments.

In the end, it is hardly surprising that Jones was denied access to higher Mideast policymaking positions or that he rationalized that denial into a monstrous conspiracy. In fact, the only thing that is surprising is that he was able to remain for 29 years in the important positions he did hold.