Thorough Coverage

I just want to say that I think your paper is excellent. I really enjoy the Pro-life Profile features, the Culture of Life section, and The Catholic Traveler. Please continue with your excellent coverage. I really love the depth of the articles especially the historical aspect of major events such as upcoming synods and past synods, the upcoming jubilee, the article on the doctors of the Church when St. Thérèse was elevated (Nov. 2-8, 1997), the review of past World Youth Days, conferences on the family, and the articles that your reporters look into with extra effort.

I am hoping you might be able to provide equally good background information on the upcoming meeting of the lay apostolate movements and the Pontifical Council on the Laity to convene May 30, 1998. Please keep up the excellent work.

Michael LaFata

via e-mail

Jewish Holy Land

I've noted with interest that, like much of the popular media, your fine Middle East Correspondent, Michele Chabin, has been caught up of late in the increasingly widespread journalistic error of referring to the eastern portion of Israel's capital as “predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem”—as most recently demonstrated in the cover story, “Can U.N. Solidify Peace in Holy Land?” (March 8-14). Common variations of the above-mentioned misbegotten expression currently include such media-favored locations as “historically Palestinian East Jerusalem,” “traditionally Arab East Jerusalem,” and the like.

The unstated, though clearly intended—and thoroughly pernicious—inference that we are supposed to draw from these frequent constructions is, of course, that there are in fact two Jerusalems: an Arab one and a Jewish one. But such a conclusion would not only be manifestly false; it would also just happen to be prime grist for the agenda mill of those whose vision of the city of peace is apparently something on the order of Beirut, Belfast, or Cold War Berlin. (God forbid that their contrivances should meet with success!)

In the interests of clarity, permit me to make the requisite corrections:

(1) The eastern sector of Jerusalem is not “predominantly Palestinian.” On the contrary, it is a part of the city whose demographic complexion is very evenly balanced by equal numbers of Arabs and Jews, and in which neither ethnicity truly predominates. (For the past several years the relative percentages have fluctuated within a very narrow range: 51% to 49% and vice versa, from one census to the next.)

(2) Neither is eastern Jerusalem “historically” or “traditionally” Arab either. To be sure, it was homogeneously Arab for the 19 years between 1948—when King Abdullab of Jordan illegally seized it during Israel's War of Independence, and 1967—when King Hussein (Abdullah's grandson and successor) tried to use it as a springboard to again invade the tiny Jewish State during the Six Day War (and thereby lost control of the territory when he, along with his Syrian and Egyptian allies, was repulsed and defeated by the Israelis). But 19 isolated years of illicit possession do not a “tradition” or “history” make.

During those years of Arab rule over eastern Jerusalem, the Jordanians killed or expelled all the Jews who had resided there, and, in an effort to erase the centuries-long Jewish presence, destroyed every single one of the 58 synagogues in that part of Jerusalem, and desecrated its Jewish cemeteries by using the headstones to pave latrines. This glorious and charming 19 year “tradition” and “history” of an exclusively Arab, thoroughly judenrein “East Jerusalem” ended (as abruptly as it had begun) some 31 years ago this June.

(3) Within eastern Jerusalem is the entire old city, which contains the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the “Jewish Quarter.” Note that also within eastern Jerusalem are Hebrew University (built 1925), Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus (built 1938), and the Jewish National and University Library (built 1930).

No knowledgeable person seriously disputes these facts. Don't be taken in: Anybody who is suggesting to you that some portion of Jerusalem isn't Jewish is either ignorant or malicious.

Michael Zebulon

Rohnert Park, California