William Temple's legacy of good
Sir, - I was glad to read the article by Rafael Medoff about the late, great William Temple, archbishop of Canterbury ("Remembering William Temple," February 21). However, it did not mention one of his most courageous and influential acts.
In 1941, during the darkest hour of the war both for Britain and the Jewish people, Temple, together with the late chief rabbi Joseph Hertz, was instrumental in setting up the Council of Christians and Jews, dedicated to the mutual recognition and respect of each group for the other, and the elimination of prejudice. This eventually led to the International Council of Christians and Jews, whose work brought about the reconciliation with the Catholic Church which has had such a profound effect on inter-faith relations.
It is doubtful if any one action by a church leader has left such a lasting legacy of good.
President, Redbridge Branch
Council of Christians and Jews
Sir, - The UK chief rabbi's forceful response to the General Synod's decision to divest from companies whose products are used by the Israeli government in the territories was entirely appropriate ("Sacks's divestment denunciation meets reserved response from church leaders,"February 19).
The Church knows that the same Caterpillar bulldozers that destroy Palestinian terrorists' houses in response to the affliction of terror are also used to uproot illegal settlements, and that they assisted the painful disengagement from Gaza in the pursuit of peace.
The Church is anything but a non-partisan broker in reaching a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Sir, - Even if David Irving has had, as he claims, a change of heart about the Holocaust, he should be punished because his writings, like so many others, remain the basis for anti-Semitic and racist beliefs ("Irving sentenced to three years in prison for denying the Holocaust," February 21). The name of the author of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion has faded away, but the Protocols lives on, breeding hatred.
"Freedom of speech" should never be allowed to become a weapon aimed at the existence of that very freedom
Sir, - MJ Rosenberg blames Israel and the US for the recent election of Hamas, an organization dedicated to our destruction ("Who 'lost' the PA?" February 21). He writes that we should have given more support to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who "maintained the cease-fire that has allowed Israel to flourish over the past year."
One can only cough politely.
Mr. Rosenberg writes that he learned this while visiting Israel a few times during the last few years. Had he spent his time living here instead of writing about here, he would know that the real credit for the change in the security situation goes to the Israeli secret service and the Israel Defense Forces, and not to Abbas or to the Palestinians, who have made multiple efforts, similar to those in the past, to continue murdering Israel citizens.
Sir, - What concessions have the Palestinian Authority leaders ever made to Israel? Far from stopping incitement in mosques, schools and their media, they increased it. Rather than disarm terrorist groups, they encouraged and financed them. Instead of controlling their new border crossing with Egypt, they have allowed an unrestricted flow of arms and terrorists into Gaza.
Shifting the burden
Sir, - Instead of Israel appearing as the offender by stopping the transfer of moneys to the Palestinian Authority, it could have said that the transfer was part of the Oslo Accords, conditional on the PA recognizing the State of Israel. Since the Hamas PA does not recognize Israel, no money can be transferred.
The result is the same, but the onus falls on Hamas.
Sir, - While MK Zehava Gal-On complains about the offer of a book of Psalms to those who register with the Shas Web site ("Gal-On: Shas bribing," On-Line Edition, February 19), her own Meretz site has just posted a very offensive cartoon depicting a supposed Moroccan felafel vendor, complete with pot belly, huge tehina stain on his shirt, and red, warty nose. In case his ethnicity is in any doubt, his name is "Miko." Attempting to criticize Kadima's standards for selecting its party list members, the cartoonist shows Olmert offering the felafel vendor a position on the Kadima list.
In conveying a message of contempt for the intelligence of North African Jews and blue-collar workers generally, this Meretz-sponsored cartoon is itself a caricature of the radical Left's racism and elitism.
Perhaps Gal-On should be monitoring the Meretz Web site.
It grieves my heart
Sir, - I get so scared for Israel and for the innocent people in Iran. I just don't understand why Iran is so against your country, and why it can't coexist with you. For that matter, I just don't understand why so many Arab countries feel the same.
Both Israel and the Arab world have such rich cultures, peoples and values. I fear both Arab and Jewish blood will be spilt over it all. It grieves my heart ("US sounding out Georgia for aid in strike against Iran,' February 20).
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Sir, - Has the Christian world gone mad? Muslims are burning churches ("Fifteen die in Nigeria cartoon protest," February 20). Muslims are threatening the Jews, and the Christian world condemns Israel.
If it carries on like this - if, God forbid, there is another holocaust of the Jews - then Muslims will turn on Christians and try to cause a Christian holocaust, until the entire world is under Islamic rule.
I pray to the Almighty that the Christian world will come to its senses and start to support the Jewish State of Israel.
CHRIS VAN NIEKERK
Sir, - In experiments using electrical discharge through mixtures of gases thought to represent the earth's primitive atmosphere, among the components detected were not only amino acids but purines, bases that are present in DNA. Among the most stable organic compounds found on earth, these were characterized as far back as 1838.
So the statement on which Avi Shafran bases his thesis - that the first organisms had "No DNA, no future" (February 21) - is entirely wrong!
In his further attack on evolution he makes the repeated mistake of calling evolution "a theory," but this is scientific jargonism.
Evolution is a fact, supported by a plenitude of evidence from fossils and genetic analysis. What is a theory, however, is how evolution occurred.
Shafran supports a theological theory of evolution, called "directed evolution," while scientists see no reason to invoke external direction when the process can unfold unaided. As he says of the book of Genesis, "the biosphere unfolded in stages, no details are given." Of course not; it is much later scientific analysis that gives the necessary details.
I see no reason why the author should be so against the workings of chance in evolution and in our lives; it is everywhere. Ignoring the real facts of life will not aid in educating children to understand our world and their place in it.
Visiting Professor of Pharmacology
The Hebrew University
The writer is coauthor of 'A Century of DNA' with F. Portugal, MIT Press, 1977.
Sir, - Like Avi Shafran, I too have been influenced by something I learned many years ago, in a mathematics department graduate course on Probability and Statistics. We grappled with the probability of a chance event happening over a time period of infinity.
The claim goes that if you sit a monkey in front of a typewriter and he randomly types letters over a period of infinity, probability dictates that that monkey will type the entire works of Shakespeare an infinite number of times.
Well, suppose you read in the paper that our overworked monkey had just finished typing out Shakespeare's entire opus. Would you declare: "It's a coincidence - it was bound to happen eventually"?
The truth is that if that monkey typed only 10 consecutive words from Shakespeare, most rational people would assume it was more than coincidence.
A human being is far more complex than a literary creation. Could, for argument's sake, an endless number of such complex organisms have emerged from the pool of endless possibilities, as the Darwinists posit?
The Darwinists are not claiming that the world is infinitely old, just a few billion years. So how would you estimate the probability of our monkey typing out, by chance, the work of Shakespeare or a similarly fabulous creation in this relatively brief time-frame?
Or, more to the point, the probability of that biologically, intellectually and spiritually intricate organism - man - making his appearance by chance over the same period?
The answer is a number so close to zero it wouldn't register on any 128-bit calculator; but if you believe in evolution without intelligent design, you should be willing to believe in this possibility as well.
Sir, - The brouhaha over Vice President Cheney's hunting mishap is just more media peevishness over the American voter's preference for Republicans, and will have no lasting political impact ("Cheney: 'I fired, and there's Harry falling,'" February 17).
Given the broader view, most of us would still rather hunt with Dick Cheney than drive with Ted Kennedy.