March 20: Pandora's box

When you open the Pandora's box of fanaticism and intolerance, you don't know what you will release.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Pandora's box Sir, - Pope Benedict XVI is looking forward to embracing Jews when he visits Israel in May, and what does Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch do? He insults the pope and 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide by demanding that the Holy Father leave his cross at home ("Western Wall rabbi says pope should not wear cross at site," March 17). WILLIAM DONOHUE New York Sir, - I assume the rabbi would be fine with Jews being forced to remove their kippot during a visit to the Vatican (since Christians, who uncover their heads to God, might be hurt); or to take off their Stars of David. When you open the Pandora's box of fanaticism and intolerance, you don't know what you will release. REENA RIBALOW BEN-EPHRAIM Jerusalem Sir, - I don't know if the pope should wear a cross at the Wall. But because each side has good arguments, I think that we should value and extend the discussion. I'm a strong advocate for the pope keeping his kippa on his head. M.M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem Did anyone even ask? Sir, - In the midst of all the sweeping emotion in the free-Gilad-at-any-price mantra, aside from the merits and demerits of the price demanded or offered, has anyone even asked the simple question of how we ever allowed the affair to get to this point? A terrorist organization violates our sovereign territory, murders two young soldiers of ours, abducts (not captures) a third soldier - all in flagrant violation of international law; it then prevents visits from international aid and human rights organizations such as the Red Cross to check upon the soldier's status and keeps him completely isolated and incommunicado - in further violation of all signed international agreements regarding the status of prisoners in times of war. And we agree to begin negotiations for his release, thereby conferring legitimacy on the act and on the terrorist organization that carried it out, as if it was an equal partner on the playing field of international diplomacy? ("Israel has red lines it won't cross, Olmert says," March 18.) LOWELL BLACKMAN Ramat Ilan Supporting Hamas Sir, - "PMO: Hamas toughened stance in Schalit negotiations" (March 17) was not unexpected, given that Hamas was "strengthened" by the visit to Damascus of UK MP Clare Short and another Labor MP, together with two Liberal Democrat members of the House of Lords. With this kind of support, Hamas considers itself recognized as a legitimate organization. What these legislators have forgotten is that Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organization under the UK Anti Terrorism Laws - which makes them liable to criminal charges! They have hindered efforts to secure Gilad Schalit's release and shown their concern for humanitarian efforts when it comes to Jews. COLIN L LECI Jerusalem Katrina fallacy Sir, - Re "Jewish leadership event in New Orleans lends a hand to Katrina recovery" (March 15): The statement "Over 600 Jewish professionals from across North America converged on New Orleans, Louisiana - landfall site of Hurricane Katrina, which decimated the city in 2005" perpetuates the misconception that the catastrophe was simply a weather event. This is not true. Experts agree that the destruction was caused by the failure of levees constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers - levees that were improperly designed and built. CLAUDIA J. D'AQUIN New Orleans Sir, - I am a native of New Orleans and a forensic expert who witnessed the building of the inadequate levees along the drainage canals near the lakefront. We knew in 1992 (Pittman Bros vs Corps of Engineers) that these levees were not built properly. Tests by the corps in 1985 confirmed that the designs used in 1990 were doomed to collapse at eight feet, exactly as they did. It is important that the world know that this was a man-made event, not a natural disaster. We commend and appreciate the efforts of the 600 who are here to help, but we also want the truth to go out about why this happened. ARMAND J RICHARDSON Los Angeles Sir, - I have just read about the volunteers converging on New Orleans to help with rebuilding Archbishop Hannan High School in St. Bernard Parish. We here could not be more grateful for such volunteers. They will be welcomed with open arms. My only quibble with your article is the statement that Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans and decimated the city. Luckily, Katrina did not make landfall in New Orleans. It merely grazed the city on its path. There was, of course, some direct hurricane damage from wind and high water. But most of the flooding occurred because of poorly designed and constructed levee floodwalls on outfall canals that did not stand up to their stated capacity as claimed by the Corps of Engineers that designed and built them. In fact, had the levee floodwalls not collapsed, New Orleans would likely not have needed the kind of volunteer effort that has taken place since the storm. JOHN DUNLAP New Orleans 'Post's past Sir, - "Lovable 'deviants'" (March 11) was a treasure. I sent it to a number of friends from all over the political spectrum, and everyone loved it. I love it. It makes me wish I had worked at The Jerusalem Post back then. And Judy Montagu made it come alive, bringing back that time and place with such vividness, in all its "old-world charm." An absolute delight. JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts