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Letters week of Feb. 28, 2008
Church Remains Strong on Commitment to Jews
As one who has been involved in dialogue with the Jewish community for many years, I read with interest and appreciation Jonathan Tobin's comments on the recent controversy over the reformulation of the Catholic Church's "Good Friday" prayer for the Jews (A Matter of Opinion: "Other People's Prayers," Feb. 14).
The Council of Jewish-Christian Centers, an alliance of some 30 American study centers, along with our international counterpart, the International Council of Christians and Jews, has expressed our disappointment with the "conversionary" aspects of the new prayer to the Vatican.
It is important in this ecumenical age to be sensitive to the reaction of other religious communities to the "internal" statements of one's own.
We were heartened by the statement of Bishop Richard Sklba, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs: "Central to the concerns of the Holy Father is the clear articulation that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and his Church.
"It is a faith that must never be imposed, but always freely chosen. The Catholic Church in the United States remains steadfastly committed to deepening its bonds of friendship and mutual understanding with the Jewish community."
Rev. Donald Clifford, S.J.
Saint Joseph's University
Focus on the Real Source of Religious Oppression
I agree wholeheartedly with Jonathan Tobin's commentary on interfaith dialogue (A Matter of Opinion: "Other People's Prayers," Feb. 14).
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we are in a battle for our religious and material beings. Too many of us in the West are afraid to confront real religious oppression, and so refuse to publish cartoons or even news that shows Muslims in a bad light. Then we "bravely" attack those we feel safe in attacking -- the pope, Christian evangelicals, the Mormons.
Israel's 100-year battle for survival in a land once ruled by Muslims has become global, as demography expands the definition of "Muslim lands."
Pope Benedict isn't Ferdinand and Isabella's pope, and he has no (military) divisions to carry out his wishes for non-Catholics to convert.
Let us not lose sight of who truly wants to burn us and all of Western civilization.
Critical Fact Left Out of Article on French Jews
Your Feb. 14 cover story "Berets to Ball Caps: French Jews Cover Up" discussed the current dilemma of Jews living in France.
But this Jewish Telegraphic Agency article omits a critical fact -- namely, the group that French Jews fear will attack them if they openly display their Jewish identity.
The attacks come from Muslims.
The Real 'Single-Issue' Lobby? Israel's Critics!
As one of the pro-Israel people that M.J. Rosenberg complains about (Opinions: "How to Push Back the Single-Issue, 'Pro-Israel' Crowd"), I want to answer his accusations.
Those of us who advocate for Israel's safety and security are not single-issue people, and being "for" Israel does not mean that we are "against" the United States.
However, I find it amazing that the director of the Israel Policy Forum objects to those of us who are "pro-Israel" -- as if there is no honor in that.
Israel needs many more advocates than it has. It faces Arab violence, propaganda smears, hostile and influential anti-Semites.
The oil-rich Saudi Wahabi lobby works 24/7 influencing its own and others, and cultivating those eager to reap big bucks for anti-Israel hatred. Unseen, this is really the "single issue" of the Arab/Islamic world, and the dangers to Israel and America from this onslaught are barely in the public eye.
Rosenberg is right on one point. It is very important to "push back against the single-issue crowd." That's the crowd Rosenberg represents, the "blame-Israel-first" types who see Israel being at fault for every situation.
Roberta E. Dzubow
Wallenberg Connection: It Was Crucial for Lantos
Rep. Tom Lantos was a remarkable force for good. But the obituary by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published in the Jewish Exponent, though recognizing all of his great qualities and accomplishments as the only Holocaust survivor serving in Congress, left out one important fact of his life (Obituaries: "Tom Lantos, Congressman and Holocaust Survivor, Dies at Age 80," Feb. 14).
He was saved by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. He could never have come to the United States and served in the U.S. Congress had it not been for Wallenberg.
We were fortunate to know Tom Lantos, and his wife, Annette. Both of them were natives of Budapest, Hungary, and both of them would have perished in l944 if it had not been for the life-saving efforts of the incomparable Wallenberg. His name is linked with those of the Lantos' and scores of other Jews of that era in a way that cannot be forgotten ... and yet, someone at JTA forgot!
Henry and Bobbie Shaffner
Remembering a Most 'Honorable' Congressman
With great sadness, I regret the extinguishment of one more "brand plucked from the fire of Europe."
I thank California Rep. Tom Lantos for his efforts to assist me in the mid-1980s in an attempt to find Raoul Wallenberg in Russia. He helped obtain from our government information regarding the names and addresses of senior physicians then in the Soviet state prison and psychiatric systems.
During that Iron Curtain period, I subsequently had translated physician-to-physician letters sent requesting information regarding Wallenberg, which did not elicit responses, if they reached intended addressees (and none were returned).
Not only was Lantos formally addressed as "Honorable," so, too, were so many of his actions. I will miss him.
Ira Schwartz, M.D.