(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - One question arises from your editorial "Two funerals & a prisoner exchange" (March 17):
As Israeli support for the unconditional release of over 1,000 dangerous prisoners for one Gilad Schalit grew, where was the world outcry of "disproportionate response"?
Sign of the cross...
Sir, - The rabbi of the Western Wall is quite right ("Western Wall rabbi says pope should not wear cross at site," March 17).
I recall a group of nuns once coming to our synagogue in Liverpool, England, wearing large crosses. For me and for the majority of congregants, this took all the usual pleasure away from the service.
Quite some years ago, I was mayor of the town where I lived in England and, as such, had to attend many church services. Of course there were crosses on the walls and over the altar, which, from 2,000 years of Jewish history, made me feel that had it been possible, I should have walked out. I reciprocated in my own way with a special service in the beautiful Princes Road Synagogue, where the Magen David had pride of place.
I do not consider it ill-will on the part of the pope's advisers, rather a failure to understand the significance of the cross to a Jew, and the fact that so many hundreds of thousands of lives were so cruelly ended under that symbol. To us it indicates death, not salvation.
Should the pope visit the Western Wall, I would hope this would be conditional on his not giving such offense.
NEVILLE GOLDREIN CBE
Sir, - Shmuel Rabinovitch, rabbi of the Western Wall, has said that the pope should not come to the site wearing a cross. The rabbi's words cause anti-Semitism. I am sure we would be grossly offended if the pope told rabbis visiting him in the Vatican to remove their kippot.
Yes, the Western Wall is a very religious site, but the pope is a very religious man and he should be given the freedom to do as he pleases.
REV MICHAEL PLASKOW MBE
...an inclusive welcome
Sir, - Our sages, of blessed memory, teach us to be thankful.
My wife and I survived the murdering Nazis and their helpers from all nations in the Netherlands by hiding with Christians - myself with fundamentalist Protestants, my wife in a Catholic convent.
As a symbol of the Catholic Church, I welcome the pope, cross included. As an Orthodox Jerusalem Jew, I am ashamed that the State of Israel sees fit to keep Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitch on as rabbi of the Western Wall.
This symbol of the remains of our Holy Temple should be represented by someone who can personify the biblical, inclusive welcome as verbalized in King Solomon's prayer at the dedication of his Temple (1 Kings 8, 41-43):
"Moreover, concerning a stranger that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake... do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel...."
Kids who hate...
Sir, - In "A fading peace" (March 13) Brian Freedman abuses his stint as a Jewish Agency volunteer in the south. Only by sleight of hand, and with the deliberate aim of misleading the reader, could one equate the "hatred" voiced by young Israeli children in the south, who have lived almost their entire lives under missile threat from the Gaza Strip, with the hatred inculcated in Palestinian children by their religious leaders, their schoolteachers, their TV programs and - last but not least - their parents' glorification of suicide bombers.
To further his deception, Freedman makes no mention of the innumerable programs, all initiated by Jewish organizations and NGOs, in which Jewish children are encouraged to meet and interact with Arab children in an effort to eradicate hatred. Is that because there is no parallel in the Arab sector to which he could refer?
One should be able to expect some depth in an article by a journalism graduate.
Sir, - Brian Freedman has a lot of nerve to come from New Jersey and label Israeli children a bunch of bigots for hating Arabs.
Israelis who hate Arabs are merely reacting normally to the long-term threats of annihilation they are forced to endure. It's only the sickos who blame Israel for the relentless aggression foisted on it by its warmongering neighbors.
Just as all Arabs aren't jihadis, most children haven't yet grasped the subtleties of multiculturalism.
Sir, - Brian Freedman is, of course, fully entitled to his opinions - but he ought to get his facts straight. In describing the plight of the Palestinian Arabs, Freedman writes that "they have been wading in poverty and oppression in refugee camps on the edges of countries like Lebanon and Jordan, which have refused to grant them citizenship and assimilate them into their societies."
While this is true of Lebanon (and other Arab countries), it is definitely not true of Jordan - the only Arab country that has granted the refugees citizenship and has integrated them in the social and political life of the country, to the point where some of Jordan's past prime ministers have been Palestinian Arab refugees! And they constitute the overwhelming majority of the country's population.
Nor is this just a "technicality." This fact has great potential political importance in that it points up Jordan's current nature as a Palestinian country and society, clearly raising the question: Could not the present line-up of Israel and Jordan, in what was formerly Palestine, some day turn into a political partnership, creating the foundation for a "two-state solution" of a more promising kind than the one being bandied about these days?
The writer is a retired Israeli diplomat
Sir, - Israeli children's distrust of Palestinian Arabs is traceable to Palestinian leaders such as Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas and their Hamas counterparts, down to the Arab man in the street. Unfortunately the record is clear that the current Arab leaders have instilled in their populace a hatred of Israel that no talk of peace will ever overcome.
Better that Israeli children realize the nature and threat of the enemy than be deluded into thinking there will ever be peace with a people dedicated to their destruction.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Sir, - I really enjoyed Marilyn Henry's tribute to the Morgenthau family ("The Morgenthau century," March 15). Not being a New Yorker, I wasn't aware of the actual century of service they performed.
All I have known - as a little kid, teenager, young man, middle-aged man and now senior citizen - is that there has always been a Morgenthau looking after legal matters in New York (and, of course, speaking out for Jews during the Holocaust).
It sort of reminded me of the biblical King Og. We first come across him in Genesis, clinging to Noah's Ark and surviving the flood. One of the giants referred to in the Torah, some traditions say he lived for 3,000 years. He was finally killed in battle by the Israelites during the battle of Edrei (Numbers 21, 33).