The National Catholic Review
God Wills It

Re your editorial “Two Peoples, One State” (11/15): You do not know what you are saying and whom you are confronting. You are confronting the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who himself set the borders of Israel. In fact, Israel is the only nation on earth whose borders have been set by God himself. And consequently, the Jewish people have a right to build anywhere within the borders set by the omnipotent God of Israel.

God is the nation-builder of Israel. Why not pick on one of the many Muslim states—or even the United States, which was supposedly founded on Christian principles but displaced the native Americans? Why not examine the Vatican state, founded definitely on one religion? I will tell you why: because it is spiritual. Israel is the apple of God’s eye and the Catholic Church hates that fact.

Susan Smith-Jones

Coqville, Ore.

A Tough Call

After reading your commentary “Two People, One State” (11/15), I can see it is not an easy call. Israel is a secular state. But Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, and others have called for a dominantly Jewish state—if not religious, then ethnic. I suppose that is following the orthodox rabbinic definition of a Jew.

Although that is counter to modern thinking about inclusive states, it is not irrational, considering that most of the Arab states are purely Muslim religious polities and that the most important among them do not admit Jews or Christians as citizens at all, e.g., Egypt and Saudi Arabia. According to Iran’s Web site, it accepts Jews as citizens, but its official pronouncements must be taken with a grain of salt. The Muslim states surrounding Israel are permeated by 60 years or more of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propaganda and education.

The prime issue is another question altogether: a single-state solution will ultimately swamp the Jewish portion of its citizens, whether by religion or ethnic dissent. That threatens the security of a Jewish homeland. If you do not go for that, you accept a two-state solution, as Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert ultimately did.

The security wall is ugly, but it has been effective in reducing terror attacks in Israel. Keep it and a strong Israeli Defense Force until the lions finally lie down with the lambs. In 2010 Fatah was not very productive in moving toward a two-state solution, but Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government has also found niggling ways to obstruct every move toward it.

Act positively is my recommendation to Israel. If it leads to a good solution, wonderful. If Fatah obstructs, let the onus be clearly on it.

Robert V. Garvin

Sarasota, Fla.

Misguided Compassion

I am touched by the compassion of the commentary “Two People, One State,” by Raymond A. Schroth, S.J. (11/15), which seeks an end to the more than century-old enmity between the inhabitants of Palestine, now Israel. It is especially touching in light of the terror being aimed at Christians in Iraq and the possible exile of an important community that has lived there nearly as long as the Iraqi Jews, who were exiled from Iraq not so long ago.

The Middle East is a rough territory. Our human instinct to seek betterment also makes us vulnerable to delusion…a natural desire for wish fulfillment. It is about as good as it gets in Israel for the Jews and also the Arabs.

Being a second-class citizen in Israel is far better than being a Palestinian almost everywhere else in the Middle East. And it is getting better because in a democratic state many Israelis are in the vanguard of protecting Arab rights. It is also getting better in the West Bank or Judea and Samaria. Economic growth is raising the standard of living and security to resist Hamas, financed by Iran.

Israel is a unique achievement and a moral force. How odd that you recognize this achievement with your left hand and toss it away with your right. You are willing to bet the ranch—a spiritually inspired, secular democracy in Israel—by expanding it into a state where Palestinians would be in the majority. It is poignant when a responsible and compassionate thinker acts foolishly. Foolishness cannot achieve tikkun olam—the duty to perfect the world.

George Rosenbaum

Chicago, Ill.

Float, Not Swim

“Two Peoples, One State” (11/15) is beyond utopian. Palestinians have spent the past 100 years devising ever more creative ways to kill or expel the “hated” Jews. Hence, the Israeli and Palestinian life-saving security barrier—not “wall”—“segregated” roads and similar security measures. Being “gifted” and “energetic” could not save German Jewry. A dystopian one-state solution would lead inexorably to a final solution.

Jews share both peoplehood and religion. For the most part, early Zionists did not seek to reclaim their historic homeland on biblical grounds. It was to serve as a place of refuge for a persecuted people. Given the current alarming rise in anti-Semitism worldwide, the rationale retains its resonance.

Despite the article’s heart-warming ending, where the author tells of meeting two young men while swimming in the Dead Sea who considered Jews and Arabs “brothers,” one can only float, not “swim” in the Dead Sea. Similarly, the Arab-Israel conflict, for the foreseeable future, can at best only be managed, not solved.

Richard D. Wilkins

Syracuse, N.Y.

The Crux of the Matter

Re “Two Peoples, One State” (11/15): Let’s get to the crux of the matter. Christ called his followers to radical forgiveness. Laughing off the virtue of loving your friends, he said true human evolution lies in finding out how to love your enemies. St. Paul demanded that the first Christians embrace a universalism—a catholicism—that goes beyond tribal differences. Therefore the Catholic view of Israel is by nature one that says: Forgive each other and find a way to share this thing you both value so much. Is that too naïve? Yes, maybe so. But it is what it is. Take it or leave it. As to the question many posters on America’s Web site asked—why Israel should be held to a higher standard than what we would expect of violent, radical Islamists—I think that question answers itself.

Peter Reichard

New Orleans, La.

Bishop Backs Gays

I was glad to see your editorial “Bullying, a Deadly Sin” (11/8). I live in the diocese that includes Cleveland, Ohio. My daughter is a lesbian. We have been in a parents’ support group for 10 years. We asked high school counselors and administrators what could have helped the experience of the gay teen population.

My daughter replied to that question that she had felt lonely and ashamed, sure that friends, teachers or family would hate her. She hated herself and thought God hated her. She said, “It would have helped to have one counselor have a sign letting me know it was safe to talk.” One young person said, “Since the expectation in a Catholic high school is that heterosexual as well as homosexual students are not sexually active, the sex issue does not come into play. We as kids needed to know we would be loved and respected.”

Our bishop and the secretary of family ministry are all involved in making a pamphlet “Always Our Children.” Four years ago four sets of parents talked in our schools about the needs of gay children. And school handbooks stressed that discrimination and bullying would not be tolerated. It was also good to have the bishop’s support.

Ann Hoenigman

Gates Mills, Ohio

Don’t Trust Big Oil

Your Current Comment “Deepwater Clean-Up” (11/15) reminds me that after 20 years and huge promises from Exxon, oil still appears, raising its ugly black goo on the beaches and bays of Alaska. All of the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding countries will live with goo balls and ugly liquids for decades to come. Additionally, most of Exxon’s promises for financial assistance to native Alaskan villages came out, after years of court fights, to zero. Many of the natives have passed away, having received nothing for lost lands, livelihoods and communities and having suffered damage to the environment. Let’s see how BP and Haliburton wiggle out of their responsibility to the people of the Gulf.

Will Atkinson

Anchorage, Alaska

Enemies Can Be Friends

There is no question that Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., in “Kill Zone” (11/8) is correct in his analysis of what war does to soldiers. But the last sentence quoted from Spec. Adam C. Winfield, that the platoon didn’t care, does not universally apply. When I was in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne on patrol with a very sensitive (and Catholic) captain, we had captured two members of the Viet Cong in the early days of the war. He secured them, treated them respectfully, gave them our food and our cigarettes. Since they were Catholics, they wanted to attend my Mass in the morning, which they did. They sang like canaries. They warned us of the turn in the river where the enemy was preparing an ambush. As we discovered later, they really saved our lives. So kindness and respect paid off that day even on the battlefield, and I am alive to tell about it.

That captain was killed six months later. May God grant him the kindness that he showed to the enemy on that memorable day.

Peter J. Riga

Houston, Tex.

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