Israelis only denied Arafat another chance to bask in...


January 08, 2002

Israelis only denied Arafat another chance to bask in limelight

Sadly, Peter Hermann turned the unfortunate situation in Bethlehem into an Israelis vs. Christians problem ("Anxiety, politics beset Bethlehem Christmas," Dec. 25). It is nothing of the sort.

Mr. Hermann's selective reporting omits the following: The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem who criticized Israel in the midnight mass homily is the first Palestinian to hold that office. He is hardly objective.

Also, Mr. Hermann skirts the real reason that Yasser Arafat was not allowed to attend the Bethlehem service: Mr. Arafat's refusal to arrest the prime suspects in the October murder of the Israeli Cabinet minister (their whereabouts are common knowledge). Mr. Hermann also fails to mention that it was this murder that inspired the Israeli incursion into Bethlehem (and other cities) in October.

The Palestinian Bethlehem is no city of peace. It is a place that harbors terrorists and gunmen who regularly shoot at Rachel's Tomb on its outskirts and at nearby Jewish neighborhoods.

Christians should be especially alarmed about the accelerating exodus of their co-religionists from the Palestinian areas - a trend that promises Muslim dominance of Christian holy places.

David Kross


Peter Hermann's otherwise thorough reporting about Yasser Arafat's absence from Bethlehem on Christmas omitted one very significant fact: Mr. Arafat is a Muslim, not a Christian.

As a Muslim, Mr. Arafat apparently never saw any reason to publicly celebrate Christmas until Bethlehem was turned over to Palestinian control in 1995. Since then, he has done so solely to bask in the limelight and aura of peace and goodwill.

This fact would have made clear that Israel's decision to preclude Mr. Arafat from Bethlehem did not restrict Mr. Arafat's practice of his religion. It did, however, correctly restrict the free publicity and false images he so desperately sought.

Aron U. Raskas


Vatican's outrage continues tradition of hostility to Jews

Has it occurred to anyone that the Vatican has displayed a lot more moral indignation at Israel's refusal to let the terrorist murderer Yasser Arafat attend midnight mass in Bethlehem than it ever did at the Nazi slaughter of the Jews of Europe ("Anxiety, politics beset Bethlehem Christmas," Dec. 25)?

The Holy See could not be bothered to raise much protest when the Nazis were rounding up Jews practically under the pope's windows, and yet it uses all its diplomatic strength on behalf of an unrepentant killer, not even a Christian, who is seeking to exploit the holiest symbol of Catholicism for purely political aims.

Unfortunately, this shameful behavior is no surprise from the current pope. John Paul II claims he wants reconciliation with the Jewish people, then tries to canonize Pius XII, the author of the church's malevolent neutrality in the face of the greatest crime in human history. The church will never be forgiven its historic sins against the Jewish people as long as it continues to show itself to be their enemy today.

Martin J. Gidron


Cardinal's push for new dome shows misplaced priorities

There is a pathetic irony to the Sun Journal article about Cardinal William Keeler's role as principal fundraiser and advocate for a "magical new eye" dome for an Italian basilica ("Basilica gets magical new eye," Dec. 25).

As titular archbishop of Michelangelo's Basilica of St. Mary, the cardinal is the prime mover in the installation of three new lenses that will diffuse solar rays onto the floor of that cathedral's rotunda. Largely through the cardinal's leadership, $1 million has been raised for this project.

At the same time, the cardinal has no problem bringing darkness to the Holy Redeemer and St. Gerard chapels. These two communities of faith make no other request of the Archdiocese than an hour a week of a priest's time to say mass.

The cardinal's actions in these cases speak volumes for his priorities as chief shepherd of his flock.

George Nellies


Gender-bending sculpture would be misplaced public art

Large outdoor sculptures can enhance public spaces and compliment the beauty of adjacent buildings. A wonderful example is the graceful and cheerful Red Buoyant, which makes it such a pleasure to walk or drive near 100 East Pratt St.

The he/she sculpture proposed for Penn Station could be delightful in another location, but would likely detract from the architecture and neighborhood character of central Baltimore. Let us urge the consideration of other options.

David Phillips


The writer is a member of the Maryland State Arts Council.

Mayor's veto of bus station hurts poor to help privileged

Bravo to The Sun for its editorial regarding the mayor's decision to veto the new Greyhound terminal ("Uncertain future for new bus station," Dec. 27). This decision serves only to emphasize the adage that "money talks," as Baltimore's less-than-privileged citizens are relegated to the back burner.

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