May 15: Pope and us

Once again a pope visits Israel, and once again Jews are unhappy.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Pope and us Sir, - Once again a pope visits Israel, and once again Jews are unhappy ("Criticism of pope's Yad Vashem speech surprises Vatican," May 13). We used to be unhappy when a pope refused to visit Israel, now we're unhappy when he comes but doesn't say what we want him to. There is no winning with us if you're a pope. Seriously, this fault-finding is embarrassing. The pope is not responsible for the happiness of Jews. He is the CEO of McDonalds, and we are Burger King. At best, he is a competitor; at worst, he would be happy if we went out of business and all our customers went to him. Happily, the Catholic Church is no longer fomenting anti-Semitism or sending Inquisitions to kill us Jews. I say that is good enough. Let the pope come, smile at him while he's there, and let him leave. EDWARD KAHAN New Brunswick, NJ Some is OK, too Sir, - In "Jewish non-Jews?" (Letters, May 13), Rabbi Jacob Chinitz asks, rhetorically, "How could the (bride)groom say: "Kedat Moshe veyisrael - "according to the Law of Moses and Israel" - if he did not believe in that law?" My reply is that, apparently, the esteemed rabbi's customers believed in marrying in rather than out. As for the Torah, it is not a law of all or nothing. M.M. VAN ZUIDEN Jerusalem Who's an occupier? Sir, - I find it difficult to even imagine that Binyamin Netanyahu could expect President Obama to accept anything less than the "two states for two peoples" agenda. Netanyahu is not stupid. He must realize that the Americans mean business this time. No more excuses - no more shilly-shallying. Let's get moving! And it wouldn't hurt, as a first step (or perhaps a second step) to remove at least half of the more than 100 tiny settlements that dot the West Bank and make life miserable for the Arabs who live there ("Widening the lens," Analysis, Herb Keinon, May 12). LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya Sir, - If Israeli citizens occupy Palestinian land in the West Bank, then US citizens occupy the Mexican lands now called California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and even Texas. Israel secured her presumably occupied territory in 1967 as a consequence of defeating Arabs intent on destroying the Jewish homeland. The United States secured her Southwest in the 1800s as a consequence of defeating Mexicans during battles related to "Manifest Destiny," a presumption that the US had a God-given right to occupy and civilize the entire continent. Israel's war was a war of survival. America's wars were of an imperialistic nature. In both cases, however, the territories acquired by the victors should arguably remain with the victors, rightly or wrongly, based on global historical precedent. Why, then, is Israel considered an occupier while no such label stigmatizes the US? Is it because in the former case, Arabs still disproportionately inhabit the conquered territories, while in the latter case American citizens far outnumber Mexican citizens in such territories? Might an argument then be made for Israeli settlement expansion in order to acquit Israel of the less than honorable "occupation" label? Furthermore, might those who occupy Mexican territory within America's Southwest while protesting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, stigmatizing Israelis with the big "O," not similarly stigmatize themselves with the big "H"? I mean, if it smells like hypocrisy, that's what it must be! LAWRENCE UNIGLICHT Galloway, New Jersey Here & happy Sir, - I made aliya on July 10 last year with my husband, 98-year-old mother-in-law and 88-year-old dad. We have had the normal trials and tribulations of a new move, plus Israel has special challenges. That said, I love living here. Every day another wonderful thing happens that reminds me why I am so happy that we have come home to our land. Reading Barbara Sofer's "61 plus one reasons I love Israel" (UpFront, May 8) inspired me to start writing my own list. It will be interesting to see how many things I come up with by the time our personal anniversary comes around, in 2010. DORRAINE GILBERT WEISS Jerusalem Cruel, unscientific Sir, - I was disappointed to read that students at Hebrew University will be forced to cut up rats and sharks in order to get their degrees, especially since the non-animal methods they wished to use instead are both educationally and ethically superior to animal dissection ("Hebrew U science students lose court battle to avoid dissecting animals," May 11). Nearly every published comparative study has concluded that non-animal learning tools, like virtual dissection software, teach anatomy and complex biological processes as well as, or better than animal-based lessons. Further, non-animal methods are often associated with increased learning efficiency, higher examination results, student confidence and satisfaction. This is why last year the US's National Science Teachers Association amended its position statement to reflect the viability of non-animal alternatives to dissection. To insist that animal dissection is the best way to teach students is as unscientific as it is cruel. We should teach students that all animals - including the millions of rats, frogs and fish killed for classroom dissection - deserve respect; and that we can, and must, understand and appreciate them without harming them. JUSTIN GOODMAN PETA Norfolk, Virginia