May 12: Peace lies in clerical hands

I hope that Pope Benedict, instead on relying on the old false stereotypes, will carry a clean slate upon which to develop new friendships and new memories.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Peace lies in clerical hands Sir, - I read Denis Maceoin's "The pope, the Holy Land, and the truth" (UpFront, May 1), and I don't think that Pope Benedict XVI's trip to the the Holy Land need be a soapbox for apologies for past mistakes. As a Roman Catholic myself, I hope that Pope Benedict, instead on relying on the old false stereotypes, will carry a clean slate upon which to develop new friendships and new memories. Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, prayed at the Western Wall and called Jews "our beloved elder brothers" as children of Almighty God. I hope Pope Benedict will continue from that positive example. I also hope he will have a higher respect for honorable members of the Masonic Fraternity, whose social and charitable actions are modelled after the due diligence of craftsmen who labored in building the Temple. I am pleased that a portion of Pope Benedict's travel expenses are being offset by the members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, of which I am a member. Rather than just passing by as a tourist clergyman, I hope he will take a genuine interest in Israel's people. The article noted how Bethlehem's Christian population in 1990 was 60 percent of the total; it has dwindled to a meager 20%. Pope Benedict needs to articulate the plight of those who have fled beatings, killings and suicide-bombers. Genuine peace will be in the hands of clerics, not diplomats. It is imperative that Jews, Christians, and Muslims be on the same page, equating "peace" with "holiness." Blessed are the peacemakers who are not subjected to propaganda or brainwashing. JAMES A MARPLES Longview, Texas State of play Sir, - The US is pushing a two state-solution to the Middle East conflict despite Palestinian unwillingness or inability to guarantee security for Israel. There cannot be a Palestinian state until this occurs. The US should understand that and help Palestinians achieve this goal, instead of championing ill-thought-out "solutions" Israel cannot possibly accept because security must trump all ("Obama: Status quo unsustainable; two-state solution critical," March 26). From this perspective, Prime Minister Netanyahu's approach, tying the pursuit of peace to concurrently dealing with political, economic and security issues, is eminently realistic and sensible ("PM to Sharm today," May 11). JERRY PHILIPSON Comox, BC Canada Where Blair can lead... Sir, - In his interview with David Horovitz ("Tony Blair and the 'moment of truth,'" May 11), the Quartet envoy stressed that the Palestinians "can't contemplate a state if it's separated and broken into little bits, or even big bits." But nowhere did he make the obvious connection: that the settlements are a bone of contention only because the Palestinians insist on a Jew-free state while expecting Israel to have a Palestinian population with or without the right of return. If Blair only saw through the propaganda, he would understand that the settlements are a red herring. If there is to be peaceful coexistence between two states and their populations, there is no earthly reason why the settlements should not stay, as part of Palestine. It is only because the chance of that prospect working on the Palestinian side - i.e. protecting a Jewish minority - is zero right now that the notion of a Jew-free Palestine isn't being criticized for what it truly is: ethnic cleansing. If the Palestinians cannot contemplate coexisting with a Jewish minority in Palestine, the only solution is the one Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman advocates: population switches on both sides - not just one. The Palestinians need to be put to the real test, which they never have been after all these years of talk. Blair could take the lead on this. PETER SIMPSON Jerusalem ...and where the PA can Sir, - The world has given the Palestinians a free pass on all their failures to honor commitments under the road map - rationalizing, perhaps, that total elimination of terrorism is beyond their control. However, the one area over which the PA does have total control is terrorism's primary root: incitement in the media, schools and mosques. The true litmus test of the PA's desire for peace would be its elimination of incitement ("ADL: Arab, Muslim cartoonists used swine flu to demonize Israel," May 6). DAVID M. LEVIN Jerusalem Provocative, eh? Sir, - I cannot understand Jeff Barak's calling the opening of the Western Wall tunnels during Binyamin Netanyahu's first term as prime minister a "provocative" act ("Character witness for the PM," May 4). It was only "provocative" because Yasser Arafat and his cohorts decided - without the slightest shred of evidence - that it was threatening the mosques on the Temple Mount. If Netanyahu's act was so provocative in terms of damage to those mosques, why was the initial rioting over it not perpetuated? MICHAEL ANISFELD Chicago Wishy-washy Sir, - Yes, it's about time we conserved water seriously ("New regulations for watering lawns," May 5). Successive governments have lowered the Kinneret's "red line" much lower than it should be. But recommendations like "make your showers two minutes shorter" are terribly "wishy-washy." People can't judge such a thing. They should be told to use a timer to time their showers to three minutes maximum, and turn off the water while soaping. (Dishes, too.) That would save a lot of water. Last week in Jerusalem, I photographed two people using a high-pressure water hose for cleaning. I posted it on YouTube. BATYA MEDAD Shiloh So, what's new? Sir, - I was quite amazed at the choice of article to lead your May 5 Comment and Features section ("Flights of fancy," Sam Ser). Is it really so interesting that a "precocious teen" has been to flying school? This is the dream of many young boys in our country, as is their acceptance by the Israel Air Force. "Flying is quite expensive" tells the whole story. My son has calculated to the last shekel how much it would cost to learn to fly here - NIS 60,000 - and only because he is not so arrogant as to assume he would pass the IAF's extremely competetive and prestigious course. I assure you that were I able to afford his flying lessons, I would have done it years ago. You told a story about a precocious, albeit talented, child with lots of protektzia. What an achievement! RAQUEL FRIEDMANN Jerusalem 'Post' memories Sir, - I served as foreign news editor of the then Palestine Post back in '48, after Reggie Weston left to see to an art show in Paris. My job included writing the headlines, which took place downstairs at the linotype machines. Sunday, February 1, the night the Post was bombed, was a typical slow Sunday - famine in China, etc. I was sitting at my desk upstairs, reading Moby Dick, when the blast came. The book took a hit from the blast - and kept it from hitting me. American reporters arrived, bearing portable typewriters, and we rewrote the paper from memory: I still have a copy, preserved in plastic, on my wall here in Jerusalem. I also have the paper's headline slug - a very heavy piece of lead - which reads "The Palestine Post." MORDECAI S. CHERTOFF Jerusalem