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February 22, 2008

Reject Saudi’s Phrase

Being of Greek extraction, I know that the etymology of Philologos can be “lover of reason,” so let’s proceed along those lines in discussing his February 1 column (“Rejecting the ‘Arab Jew’”).

I agree that the term “Arab Jew” is a contradiction and cannot logically stand on its own. Perhaps the term exists only as an anti-Zionist brickbat, but it is easily defused if Jews who live in Arab lands are referred to — more correctly — by the nation they inhabit. Egyptian Jew or a Syrian Jew is a logical, correct appellation and there is no hatred hidden in this nomenclature, any more than there should be anger aroused at the term Israeli Muslim.

It is illogical, however, that Saudi intolerance of all foreign religions would anoint them as educators on the subject of “Arab Jews.” Who is less qualified on the subject of tolerance? Let them first instill acceptance and respect for other religions in their protean nation before they tackle the whole region.

Spero Katsivelos
New York, N.Y.

Respect Catholic Liturgy

Despite the Forward’s claims to the contrary, the fact is that Catholicism’s immutable dogmatic teaching has always held that all people need Christ, that He is the one true faith for all humanity, and that all non-Christians are to be evangelized — and this includes Jews (“Turning Back the Clock,” February 15). I respectfully challenge the editorialist or any member of the Jewish community to produce any statement from the Second Vatican Council’s official documents or from any authoritatively binding pronouncement from the Vatican during the past 43 years that says anything to the contrary. I am quite sure you will not find any.

What Pope Benedict XVI has done with his new version of the ancient Tridentine Mass is to endorse and rigorously affirm another facet within the vibrant, traditional essence of Catholicism — facets that unfortunately have been soft-pedaled all too often since 1965. For faithful Catholics, steps such as these are cause for rejoicing.

Nobody in Catholicism presumes to tell adherents of Judaism what their prayers should or should not consist of. I think the Jewish community should strive to accord Catholic liturgical worship the same considerations.

Robert Barnett
Minneapolis, Minn.

Unmask Lithuanians

Rather than having a festival in which people masquerade in crude depictions of “Jews,” the Lithuanian national character might be better served with a period of remembrance and self-examination in acknowledgement of their ancestors’ enthusiastic participation in the Holocaust (“‘Jews’ Parade on the Streets of Vilna,” February 8). After all, the murders and beatings in Vilnius began even before the German army arrived.

Regarding their imitative games of selling dirty rags and haggling, it is instructive to note how quickly and successfully Jews of that community left off such squalid survival tactics when they came to a more level playing field in the New World, where neither the government nor any church acted to reduce them to such abject pursuits.

Maurice Herz
New York, N.Y.

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