Orthodox Church has long opposed Milosevic's regimeIn her...

Letters to the Editor

July 22, 1999

Orthodox Church has long opposed Milosevic's regime

In her letter, "Church must condemn Serbia's ethnic cleansing" (July 15), Ruth Von Bramer stated that the Serbian Orthodox Church has not condemned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's atrocities in Kosovo. This is not accurate.

On June 29, the New York Times reported that, at a news conference in which Patriarch Pavle of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the church's senior official in Kosovo, Bishop Artemije, denounced Milosevic, "Both clergymen deplored the violence against the Kosovo Albanians, as well as the violence against ethnic Serbs and the Orthodox Church in Kosovo."

The Serbian Orthodox leadership has opposed Milosevic for years, with Patriarch Pavle leading public demonstrations in the streets of Belgrade against his regime.

When Milosevic demanded he condemn NATO's bombing and express support for his regime, Patriarch Pavle refused.

Over the past few years Bishop Artemije has also visited Washington several times, urging support for conversations between Serbian and Albanian anti-Milosevic forces.

Milosevic is not a member of the Orthodox Church. He is a staunch Communist and an atheist. For more than half a century, Yugoslav Communism oppressed the church, while preserving its holy places as museums.

Orthodoxy has been seized by the Milosevic regime as a popular part of Serbian patriotic identity.

Unfortunately, one of Milosevic's little-known atrocities has been the cynical way his propagandists have suggested that his criminal acts bear the approval of the Orthodox Church.

Evan Alevizatos Chriss, Baltimore

Terrorist sympathizers don't belong on commission

In his Opinion Commentary column "Muslims not yet accepted as genuine Americans" (July 13), Richard Reeves disagrees with what he terms the American Jewish Congress' "knee-jerk" opposition to the appointment of Salam al-Marayati to a congressional commission charged with protecting the United States from terrorist attack.

Mr. Reeves is not troubled by this statement issued by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which Mr. al-Marayati serves as executive director: "Because the Palestinian people have no avenues to redress their grievances, some of them have been pushed beyond the margins of society and have adopted violent reactions to express their despair and suffering."

There can be no rationalizing or condoning the blowing up of innocent people by terrorist organizations such as Hamas.

Anyone, including Mr. al-Marayati, who does not explicitly condemn terrorist acts, has no place on a U.S. government body assembled to fight terrorism. That's basic common sense.

Mr. Reeves says Jewish organizations will not accept a Muslim in public service. He did not note, however, that in our complaint against Mr. al-Marayati we wrote, "There are other prominent American Muslims who are not stained by affiliation with groups that justify terrorism and who therefore would be worthy members of the commission."

Mr. Reeves himself engaged in a knee-jerk response by inveighing against so-called Jewish power and its hold on the U.S. government. For a sophisticated observer of American politics, this is a remarkably shallow position to take.

Phil Baum, New York

The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Congress.

Palestinians haven't met Wye accord obligations

Recent articles by Ann LoLordo ("Barak, Arafat pledge peace," July 12 and "Give Barak time, Mubarak urges," July 10) have overlooked the need for Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to honor their side of the Wye accords.

To fulfill the Wye accord, the Palestinians must reduce the size of their police force -- which is actually now a military; eliminate their heavy weaponry; disarm Hamas and other terrorist organizations; bring murderers of Israeli citizens to justice and stop the vicious anti-Israel and anti-semitic rhetoric that is coming from the Palestinian Authority, its media and its educational system.

The Palestinians have not done any of this.

When Mr. Arafat meets the terms of the Wye accords, then and only then should Israel make irreversible withdrawals from territory.

Nelson Marans, Silver Spring

JFK Jr. embodied dreams of a generation

Like his father, President John F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. embodied the hopes and dreams and imagination of his generation of Americans, and has been taken away at too early an age.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Besette Kennedy, will be greatly missed.

Christopher Krieg, Baltimore

Kennedy tragedy shouldn't overshadow other losses

With all due respect to the Kennedy family and others who have lost loved ones, I find it repulsive that the media has devoted so much time to the loss of John F. Kennedy Jr.

No loss of life, including the minister gunned down on the streets of Baltimore last week, or the other lives lost daily to gun violence and other tragedies, is less meaningful than another. The victim's wealth or fame should not make one loss more prominent than another.

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