The interview by George M. Anderson, S.J., with Claudette Habesch, Obstacles to Peace, A Palestinian-Christian Perspective (11/17), demonstrates how the Israeli security wall is really a weapon of war. When completed, this wall, referred to by some as the apartheid wall, will be 220 miles long, 25 feet highthree times as long and twice as high as the Berlin Wall. Instead of guns, tanks and planes, cement and steel are used as weapons of dispossession and human brutality.
In the words of Neve Gorday, a teacher of politics and human rights at Ben-Gurion University, It will stand as the largest open-air prison known in the world. It will separate villages from water supplies, children from schools, farmers from their lands. Families will not have access to some of their ancestral cemeteries. Other Palestinian parents will even be cut off from their adult children. The tens of thousands of trees that are being removed in the process will have disastrous effects on the watershed.
This wall does not separate Israel from Palestine; rather it divides Palestine from itself, and will imprison more than 210,00 Palestinians, 76 villages, towns and cities, according to the Israeli human right group B’tselem. Bulldozers are building barriers between the sick and their hospitals. More than 10 Palestinian women have already been prevented from getting to hospitals to deliver their children. A human rights group reports that Israeli soldiers would not let an ambulance, just 10 meters away, transport a woman giving birth to the hospital. This resulted in her delivering the child at the checkpoint.
Does anyone really believe that this will add to the security of Israel or promote the waning road map of peace plan? Former President Reagan shouted: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall, referring to the Berlin Wall. President Bush and our elected officials raise little more than a whimper against this wall. Each day the media adeptly reports single acts of violence committed by the Israeli military or a Palestinian terrorist while failing to report the longer-term and far more severe human consequences of building this wall. Could it be that the blood and body count over so many years has rendered us too numb for any sensible reaction? Or worse, have we been conditioned to think that Palestinians are less than human and deserve such treatment? The silence of churches and citizens and governments is deafening.
This week the Red Cross announced that it will end its food program to the Palestinians, stating that it is now the responsibility of Israel. The United Nations declared that Israel has created an inhumane disaster. When will it stop?
Israel’s desire for security is understandable, but imprisoning the Palestinian people and degrading their human dignity will only prove a source of more violence. Only a just peace will provide security both for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples now, and for their children in the future. Only a sensible and sane plan that is based on a just solution will ensure a peace that will last.
(Rev.) Richard Broderick
The article by George M. Anderson, S.J., Obstacles to Peace (11/17), focused exclusively on a Palestinian-Christian perspective and neglected to illuminate any other perspective. All sides in the complex Palestinian-Israeli conflict are suffering: Christian, Jew and Arab. While the conditions of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are unbelievably difficult, Israel wants to change this.
The Palestinian economy must be allowed to develop, and Palestinian leaders should take responsibility for this. Palestinian legislators and officials, humanitarian and international workers, must go about the business of building a better future. Foreign aid should be used to move families out of refugee camps instead of preserving the squalor. Taxes paid by Palestinians should be invested in improving their lives instead of maintaining a corrupt bureaucracy.
The Palestinian priority should be stopping the violence, for as violence subsides, there will be less need for a fence, and freedom of movement will be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life.
But there can be little improvement in living conditions until the violence stops, until those who carry bombs into Israel stop the bloodshed. The Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people need to stop the violence, not for Israel’s benefit but for their own future. If Israel stopped fighting terror, the violence would not end. But if the Palestinians stopped terror, Israel would have no reason for curfews, fences, checkpoints and other defensive measures.
The wall Claudette Habesch describes is a misnomer, since less than five percent is made of concrete barrier. The security fence being constructed is neither a political declaration nor a border demarcation. The single purpose of this fence is to prevent terrorists from literally walking into the populated Israeli cities and towns and setting off human bombs, killing scores of innocent IsraelisJews, Arabs and Christians alike.
Minister of Interreligious and Public Affairs
Embassy of Israel
Concerning your editorial Staying the Course in Iraq (11/24): Another option exists for extraction from the Iraq morass: invite international participation on a full-management basis.
Since go it alone has failed, humble pie would be a prudent dietary alternative that would rehabilitate our international image, save the lives of innocent bystanders in Iraq, accelerate the support of Muslim nations, democratize the country and, in diverse other ways, accomplish our mission.
This 50-year subscriber is delighted to contribute in a small way to the always thorough analysis and clear logic that I have found in your pages over those tumultuous years.
William J. Cushman
I regret that Terry Golway’s usually welcome 900 or so words, Getting to Know the Neighbors (11/17)about Seton Hall University’s president taking the lead with pretty savvy hospitality for a public other than the usual fat catsneglected to include reference to the one thing necessary if the American Catholic Church [is to] rebuild the trust it has lost. That one thing is a far more rigorous public accountability structure that will keep the laity apprised of where the money goes, based on regular auditing of diocesan and archdiocesan financial records by outside accountants, and publication of their reports by each chancery in readily available media immediately on receipt of the line-item analysis by the local ordinary.
It is unacceptable that innocent priests should be tarred with the misbehavior of relatively few, whose crimes it was possible for the episcopacy to cover up only because nobody outside the chanceries has ever had a clue about where and how the incoming contributions of the laity are spent.
Upper Montclair, N.J.
Colleagues at Boston College were bemused at the way the New York-based production staff at America rearranged local geography by adding the descriptive display title, Sin and Suffering in South Boston, to my review of Mystic River (11/17). For the locals, moving South Boston across town to the Mystic would be like having the Brooklyn Bridge span the mighty Hudson, or the Ohio shoulder its way past the levees of New Orleans, or young lovers in Paris stroll hand-in-hand along the embankment of the Volga. As a result of this bases-loaded error on a fielder’s choice, my ration of beans and brown bread has been halved.
Richard A. Blake, S.J.
Chestnut Hill, Mass.
I have just read the review by Richard A. Blake, S.J., of the film Mystic River. Having read the book and seen the film, I appreciate the insights he shares. It truly is Academy Award material. It might be of interest to your readers to know that the book’s author, Dennis Lehane, is a graduate of Boston College High School. He dedicated his first novel, A Drink Before the War, to the English teacher at B.C. High who encouraged his writing, Larry Corcoran, S.J.
Kathleen Kirley, S.S.J.
While I have often thought of writing a letter to the editors of various publications, Running to Communion, by Paul Janowiak, S.J., (10/27) finally drove me to action: both to write this note of appreciation and to share the article with friends. I thought particularly of a friend who recently expressed concern that we were losing a sense of devotion to the real presence in holy Communion. Father Janowiak, a liturgist, reminds us of the many ways we experience Christ: in the sacred elements, of course; in the word read and proclaimed; in the congregation praying and singing; and in the runs that he experienced with fellow scholastics years ago in the California hills, together with his memories of these friends now, years later, when he returns to the old haunts.
Thank you, Father Janowiak, for a very moving expression of the deep insights that the Second Vatican Council opened to us about the communitarian dimension of Christ’s presence. Together we body forth Christ’s saving deeds in the liturgy. We need constant reminders of this truth. We are, after all, a pilgrim people: some running and singing; some just able to put one foot before the other. No matter. The sense of communion keeps us going.
I found Love Your Enemies, by John F. X. Sheehan, S.J., (11/17) reflective and touching. But the subtitle, Psychotherapy Discovers Forgiveness, might more accurately have read Psychotherapist Discovers Forgiveness. Father Sheehan credits Mariah Burton Nelson’s The Unburdened Heart (2000) as his introduction to forgiveness in psychotherapy. Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons deserves recognition for calling attention to that connection somewhat earlier. In 1986 he published The Cognitive and Emotive Uses of Forgiveness in the Treatment of Anger (Psychotherapy, vol. 23, p. 629).
Jim Radde, S.J.