Moving Op-Ed; Hysterical Column
I thoroughly enjoyed Gedaliah Gurfein’s moving and thought-provoking salute to the IDF (“A Call to Arms: The Blessing of an Israeli Army,” op-ed, Dec. 13). The article provided such a unique and refreshing perspective on this singularly controversial topic and should be required reading for all Jew, particularly Israelis.
In a totally different vein, I would like to thank The Jewish Press once again for Mordechai Schmutter’s hysterical column You’re Asking Me? which appears in The Magazine once a month and consistently leaves me laughing out loud. Please accept my sincere appreciation for the much-needed comic relief.
With warm greetings from the frigid Holy Land,
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel
The Vatican And The Artifacts
Reader Esther Feldman, in commenting on the meeting at the Vatican between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the pope, mentions “the Vatican’s refusal to return looted Jewish artifacts,” adding that “it is common knowledge that the Vatican has vast stores of these treasures in its possession” (Letters, Dec. 13).
It may indeed be “common knowledge,” Ms. Feldman, but it is far from established fact. Even a cursory glance at history indicates that what is accepted as common knowledge in one era is often exposed at some point or another as nothing more than rumors, half-truths, or outright lies.
The fact is there is no credible eyewitness account of “vast stores” of Jewish artifacts and treasures in the Vatican. And it is totally unwarranted to assume that because Jewish valuables were brought to Rome after the sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD, those valuables somehow ended up in Vatican hands.
Of course, there was no Vatican at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and for centuries afterward. Christianity was outlawed by Rome and for more than 300 years countless Christians were persecuted and murdered by the Romans. It wasn’t until the end of the fourth century that the Church was even legalized.
And so while there certainly is a possibility that some of the looted artifacts from Jerusalem eventually turned up in one or another Vatican repository or archive, there is just as much of a likelihood that by the time the Church finally established itself in Rome, many or perhaps even all of the artifacts had been defaced or destroyed, disappeared into private hands, suffered the inevitable effects of time, etc.
What this administration has failed to realize is that its words and promises, even when reduced to paper, are meaningless in the eyes of Israel as well as the greater international community.
With the failure in Egypt to protect the government of Hosni Mubarak, the endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi as ruler in Egypt, the ignominious retreat from Syria and the signing of a one-sided pact with Iran, this administration has lost all credibility.
Why would Israel and its leaders believe a U. S. protective presence in the Jordan valley, an idea the administration reportedly has floated, would be effective, much less permanent? Certainly UN forces in Lebanon did not protect Israel from Hizbullah, nor did UN troops between Egypt and Israel prior to the 1967 war prevent Egyptian aggression, as the troops were hastily withdrawn at Nasser’s demand.
Israel has gone down this route before, with grave consequences.
Silver Spring, MD
Mandela’s Life And Legacy
Abraham Foxman’s tribute to Nelson Mandela was eye-opening, emphasizing that Mandela’s embrace of the Palestinian cause was more about pragmatism than a rejection of Israel and certainly not reflective of a dislike of Jews (“How Mandela Eased Doubts Among Jewish Leaders,” op-ed, Dec. 13).