Letters to the editor, November 15

Hands off... Sir, My first thought was that I must be dreaming because it was neither Purim nor April 1st, but after reading two articles (“Don’t do it, President Katsav,” and “An exchange that makes sense,” November 13) informing me that there was a possibility of exchanging a room in our extremely precious Old City of Jerusalem for a church in Toledo, Spain, I had to conclude that the whole thing must be a bad joke. I’m tired of political antics. Let us just show the rest of the world that we have a country which makes us very proud, that it is ours, and everyone can take their beady eyes and hot hands off every part of it. BETTY BENSON Netanya ...Leave untouched Sir, It is a shame that many Israelis still equate Christianity almost exclusively with the Catholic Church. While it is true that many people belong to this Church, there are many Christians who do not. The idea of handing over the Room of the Last Supper to the Catholic Church in exchange for a Jewish synagogue would likely be seen as undesirable by non-Catholics. Giving the room to the Catholic Church would be tantamount to giving the Temple Mount exclusively to the ultra-Orthodox Jews, effectively denying the fact that it really belongs to all Jews. Leave the Room of the Last Supper alone. It is one of few places left in Jerusalem that can be truly considered “untouched” by one particular religion or denomination. JOHANN BLAKE Zichron Ya’acov Myth as reality Sir, The myth of the Temple vessels and other Jewish treasures being nefariously hidden away deep inside the Vatican is astonishingly widespread, especially among American Jews. This is a modern urban legend, however, reflecting the kind of anti-Catholicism that is widespread in American culture (the best example being the popular and wrong-headed The Da Vinci Code). It is astonishing that Stewart Weiss’s assertion of this myth as fact was treated uncritically by The Jerusalem Post. I have studied the evidence quite carefully, examined Jewish artifacts at the Vatican and borrowed priceless Jewish items for a major exhibition that I curated at Yeshiva University Museum. The Vatican Library and Museums have been nothing but cordial, generous and forthcoming. Whatever contemporary meaning we find in the hope that Temple vessels will return to us in the Messianic future, treating myth as reality, and in the process criticizing the Vatican, is not the way to redemption. STEVEN FINE Visiting Professor of Jewish History Yeshiva University New York Inappropriate Sir, I pretty much agree with Stewart Weiss that Israel should not hand over the Room of the Last Supper on Mount Zion to the Catholic Church. However, I am disappointed by Weiss’s “Peres bashing” in the same article. The first instance was his sarcastic conspiracy theory: “Shimon Peres hired by Likud to lose every election and make Labor look bad!” He also wrote that if the story of this exchange with the Vatican was true, “the Jewish world would shift into 4th gear (we only go into overdrive when Madonna visits the Western Wall or Shimon Peres wins an election...)” It was inappropriate to make fun of Peres after he was publicly humiliated in the Labor primary. All of us saw the look of defeat and sadness on his face. HOWIE KAHN Jerusalem Birthright Sir, There is no comparison between Mount Zion and a church built on a synagogue in Spain. If they want to transfer the synagogue to Mount Zion for us for use in prayer and Jewish study, that would be nice. But there’s no reason for us to sell our birthright, our land, for a church. BATYA MEDAD Shiloh Listen again... Sir, I find Seymour Reich’s views to be patronizing (“Listen to America,” November 14). According to Reich, relations with any US administration are good when there are no major disagreements with US policies. In other words, as long as Israel does as it’s told, relations are fine. Reich invites President Bush to put even more pressure on Israel to negotiate with terrorists and bandits. In stating that the majority of Israelis supported disengagement, Mr. Reich (correctly but inadvertently) makes a mockery of the Israeli system of government. The party that originally supported the idea was defeated, and the rest was daylight robbery. Mr. Reich’s point that considering American policy is “smart decision-making that enhances Israel’s security” is really saying the Israeli government is unnecessary, because it can’t run the country. As to Israel then being secure, I rest my case. BORIS CELSER Calgary ...and again Sir, Seymour Reich exemplifies the sort of wishful thinking that has marred recent American foreign policy. Once again we hear the tired cliches about how, if only given the chance, the Palestinians will build a political entity devoted to peace and prosperity. What nonsense! The only thing the Arabs will do with their chances is increase their offensive capability against the “Zionist entity.” Instead of asking for further territorial concessions, Israel should be urged to expand the settlements as much as possible as a means of denying the terrorists organizational capabilities. D. KATCOFF Jericho, Vermont Show us up Sir, Because of our unilateral steps, the Palestinians say that the conflict will continue (“Qurei: Israel is not a peace partner,” November 13). Suggestion: the Palestinians should show us up by implementing their own unilateral withdrawal. CHAYIM SEIDEN Jerusalem Firm stand Sir, I was pleased to see the king of Jordan take a firm stand against the terrorists responsible for the bombings in Amman (“Abdullah vows to pull the terrorists ‘from their holes,’” November 11). Hopefully this will wake up those Muslims who consider Osama bin Laden and his followers to be heroes, so they will understand that, in reality, these terrorists are nothing but criminals hiding behind the veil of religion. TIM WITTENBERG Maple Ridge, British Columbia Oh my, darlings Sir, It continues to amaze me that Bill and Hillary Clinton are the darlings of American and Israeli Jews. Does Bill Clinton really want me, a Diaspora Jew, to contribute to the PA (“Clinton: Unilateralism not the answer,” November 13)? PAUL LIFLAND Beeville, Texas Not for Long Sir, Many years ago, the US had a politician like Amir Peretz. His name was Huey Long and his slogan was “Every man a king.” He built many projects in Louisiana, most even useful, without regard to costs and with questionable sources of funding. Peretz seems to have two policies: appease the Palestinians and borrow money for social policies that Israel cannot afford. It is time for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu to act like patriots and not prima donnas. Gaza is a done deal and they don’t disagree on much else. The possibility of Peretz as prime minister, like Huey Long’s failed attempt to become president, poses an existential threat to the country. SIDNEY BROOKS Bowie, Maryland A fine example Sir, I salute Amram Mitzna who, after a long and distinguished army and civil service career, has decided to serve as mayor of Yeroham (“Mitzna leaving Knesset to be Yeroham mayor,” November 14). His decision will, no doubt, boost the pride of Yeroham’s population, especially its younger generation, by having a mayor of his stature: A retired IDF general who served with distinction during the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, a former mayor of Haifa and former chairman of the Labor Party. He is setting an important example that may encourage others to contribute to the development of the Negev, in fulfillment of David Ben-Gurion’s dream. NISSIM GOMEL Ganei Yehuda Acknowledgment Sir, I would like to thank Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for cutting the average American male some slack (“The broken American male,” November 10). I appreciate his candor. It appears that America consumes its own people with prisons of shame and competition. Thank you to Rabbi Boteach for at least acknowledging the problem. DAVID DELICH Tucson Safer cycling... Sir, I so enjoyed Saul Singer’s moving and exhilarating piece regarding the final day of the Alyn ride (“Alyn ride ends with emotional celebration,” November 13). He also raised some serious issues. Mr. Singer was quite right to quote the organizer of the ride who compared its difficulty to “a small taste of the struggle that some children wage every day.” One of Alyn’s patients, now living at home with his family, is Raz, a highly gifted 11-year-old boy, who is wheelchair-bound and on an oxygen machine for life. Raz has given his name to Metuna’s Kol Hayeladim (Children’s Voice) project in the hopes of preventing other children from ending up like him, and has inspired the campaign for safer travel to and from school. Too many cyclists are being killed or injured on our roads. We would like to see far more youngsters wearing helmets and more cycling paths available to ensure their safety. ZELDA HARRIS PR Director METUNA, The Organization for Road Safety Netanya ...Wheels of Love Sir, As the mother and grandmother of four riders in Alyn’s “Wheels of Love” fundraiser, I want to thank Saul Singer for catching the essence and spirit of the riders, their immense efforts and the purpose of the ride. His descriptions of each day’s challenges made us feel as if we were actually participating if only we could! Singer’s choice of entries from his late brother’s diary were especially apt, heartrending and heartwarming. Many thanks to Singer and the Post for making us realize how fortunate we are to have healthy children and to be able to help those less fortunate. JOY CHESTERMAN Jerusalem