No GiveawayEditor: I trust that reader Kirk Nevin's...


November 13, 1990

No Giveaway

Editor: I trust that reader Kirk Nevin's concern that Washington is giving away $400 million to Israel for housing newly arrived Russian immigrants (letter, Oct. 22) is misplaced rather than malicious. The truth is that the funds are a guarantee of a commercial loan by Israel from American banks. If Israel doesn't default on its loan -- and it never has -- there's no American expense. It's definitely in U.S. interest to help Israel, Washington's most reliable Mideast ally, absorb the thousands of highly-skilled immigrants from the Soviet Union now arriving monthly.

Glen Richter.

New York.

The writer is national coordinator for the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.

Barry's Sentence

Editor: My reaction to your editorial criticizing the sentence for Mayor Marion Barry of Washington was that two wrongs don't make a right.

Even if Michael Deavers' sentence to community service for a felony was too light, that is no reason to conclude that the six-months sentence given to Mayor Barry for possession of cocaine was not justified.

It appears that Judge Jackson evaluated the Barry conviction and sentence on the basis of Barry alone, free of the comparative politics of racism.

The facts are that Mayor Barry was convicted by a jury of possession of cocaine and that the six-month sentence is within the federal sentencing guidelines designed to assure a range of parity in sentencing.

It is relevant that Mayor Barry held a position of trust and high public visibility and that he has shown little or no remorse for his involvement with drugs.

Rather than emphasize that Mayor Barry was convicted only of simple possession of cocaine, the courts should emphasize this simple proposition: Do illegal drugs and you go to jail.

Francis J. Gorman.


The Mosque and Hindu Militancy

Editor: Your editorial, ''Fragile India,'' on Nov. 4, is an accurate portrayal of the strange political system and power structure in India. The current movement of the militant and reactionary forces to demolish the ancient Babri mosque is yet another link in the chain to exploit religion as an electoral strategy to grab political power.

Their demand for the construction of the Lord Rama temple is an attempt to cow down the minority Muslims, and has nothing to do with the glory of Hinduism.

However, your statement that the Moghul emperor Babur built the mosque on the revered birthplace of Hindu god Rama to symbolize the triumph of Islam has no basis in history, legend or folklore.

True, the mosque was built in the same city -- Ayodhya -- where the legend says Lord Rama was born. But it should be noted that presently 22 different existing temples in that city already claim that they are located on the spot where Lord Rama was born. Just as churches, synagogues and mosques co-exist in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, temples and mosques have co-existed in the city of Ayodhya for centuries.

In fact, the virulent Hindu political parties have refused to accept the arbitration of the secular parties, courts of law, panels of historians and religious leaders. Even though the minority Muslims have agreed to the construction of a Hindu temple a few feet from the mosque, the militant Hindu political parties are insisting that the ancient mosque be demolished.

Kaleem Kawaja.

Ellicott City.

Editor: Your editorial, "Fragile India," states something as a fact which has not been substantiated even by its proponents. The editorial claims, "In 1528, the first Moghul emperor built a mosque on the revered birthplace of the Hindu warrior-god Lord Rama to symbolize the triumph of Islam."

This issue is under review in an Indian court. A lower court has already ruled that this claim cannot be proved by available historical records. Frivolity of the claim is obvious from the fact that before this controversy, all 22 existing temples in Ayodhya were vying for the recognition as Rama's birthplace.

While Ayodhya as a city may have been revered as the birthplace of Lord Rama, the precise site of the birthplace was never recorded.

The Muslims have done everything they can, short of succumbing to the demands of razing the mosque. They have offered space barely 100 yards from the mosque to build the temple. The Muslims even agreed to abide by the judgment of the court reviewing it.

The leaders of the Hindu extremists, on the other hand, have decreed that they will not honor the judgment. Furthermore, chants of "Pakistan Jao Ya Kabristan Jao" (meaning "Go either to Pakistan or the graveyard") leave no room for compromise or appeasement.

It is becoming more and more obvious that the problem is political and not religious. Suffering from the lack of political support from the mainstream and educated Hindus, the militant fringe of Hindu right needs crutches of religious extremism to carry it to the helms of power.

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