In addition to the letters published in this week’s issue of the The Tablet you can find more correspondence here, available free.
was pleased to read of Rabbi Abraham Skorka's references to tzedek (justice) and gemilut Hasidim (acts of loving kindness) ("Give the poor the oil that anoints them with dignity: a job", The Tablet, 18 May). His views represent the best of Judaism. I wish Clifford Longley was more familiar with this tradition ("Professor Stephen Hawking is wrong; as is the academic boycott of Israel"); then he would understand why so many Jews support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) to change Israeli Government policies.
They recognise that the Israeli Government cynically uses the Holocaust as moral cover for its oppression of the Palestinians while at the same time frequently treating its Holocaust survivors as "mere victims" (see Times of Israel 3 April 2013 on survivor poverty). The Israeli Government shows very little respect for the deeper values of the tradition of Judaism and the humanism typical of Yiddersher culture.
Disregarding the so-called "peace process", the Israeli Government continues with ever-increasing vigour its unjust and violent policies of covert ethnic cleansing and theft: demolition of Palestinian houses; eviction of Palestinian families; seizure of land not belonging to Israel, (eg Cremisan convent lands). It is building more and more illegal settlements. This ethnic cleansing is enforced by severe oppression: Palestinians are forced into ever smaller and more terrible, walled and hungry ghettos, threatened by watchtowers, shot by snipers, killed as collateral in rocket assassinations and denied access to their olive groves, orchards, farms, schools and universities, harassed at checkpoints and roadblocks. Palestinian West Bank children, some as young as nine, are brutalized and illegally imprisoned in order to intimidate their parents (DCI reports). The people of Gaza are under a severe illegal blockade.
The Israeli Government has cynically ignored all requests to moderate its violence and its theft. The International Community appears powerless to act. Therefore those of us concerned with justice and the achievement of peace and harmony in the region are turning to the tactic of boycott. Clifford Longley unfortunately appears to misunderstand this tactic as presently employed. Academic boycott is not applied "to the whole group". It is used against academic institutions that have shown they are continuously complicit with policies of settlement and ethnic cleansing. Any Israeli academic who shows that s/he is willing to break with this evil is welcomed and supported – not boycotted. However, perhaps Clifford Longley might be willing, at least, to complain to the Israeli authorities about their disgraceful persecution of the Israeli (not Palestinian) historian who has given a definitive account of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, Professor Ilan Pappe.Irene Brennan, West Kirby, Wirral
Normally a fan of Clifford Longley, I am shocked by his claim. Seeing Israel issues through the prism of the Holocaust is as unpersuasive as Muslims viewing Christians as latter-day crusaders. Jews are generally a community known for intellectual vigour. How then did they as a secular movement come to seek post-Holocaust security, improbably, right in the eye of the Middle East storm? Ultimately Israel is physically indefensible and morally so whilst it practises racism and apartheid.
Increasingly, boycotts are making an impact upon intransigent Zionists. Only when a one-party state exists in Palestine will hope for peace grow. Currently, Zionism fuels anti-Semitism. Longley's unconvincing pitch for Israel is eroded by suggesting that an Israeli change of heart awaits a tightening of the screws upon Israel. If Israel, of its own volition, showed signs of striving to do the "right things", we might have no need to talk of boycotts. The South African experience is pertinent where boycotts brought about real and fundamental change. Hawking and other academics deserve gratitude.Peter Cuming, London NW5
Conor Gearty's compelling article ("Imagining a Catholic future", The Tablet, 11 May) brings to mind George Pattison's feature "Passionate Thinker" (The Tablet, 4 May) which revealed Kierkegaard's despair with the established Church of his day and its apparent endorsement of comfortable middle-class Christianity. Jose A. Pagola expresses much the same concern in his extraordinary book: Jesus An Historical Approximation (Convivium Press 2009). At long last we appear to have a successor to St Peter who seems to operate from a similar compass bearing.
Conor Gearty asks the question: what are we comfortable Catholics going to do about it? Having recently reached my biblical three score and ten, it's a question (and a challenge) of increasing urgency for me. Left to myself, the answer is likely to be precious little, if anything at all! But together with others? - that might change things.
Do you know of anyone out there who might have ideas?Peter Mchale, Leeds
"What can you do for the Church?" asks Conor Gearty. He points with enthusiastic vision to an embrace with proponents of human rights, and this must certainly be a valid sea-mark. However, many of us live in communities of twos, threes and dozens and are unable to take part in large-scale meetings. There exist here and now groups which subdivide the great human rights idea. A personal selection might be Pax Christi, because the search for peace is indisputably Christian; natural family planning teachers, because everyone in the world has a right to know how human fertility works, and The Latin Mass Society because of its young questioning participants who have chosen to follow this lively Catholic subgroup in its philosophy and in its actions.Marie Arnall, Ambleside, Cumbria
I was very pleased to see the two letters sympathetic to Cardinal O'Brien in The Tablet, 18 May. What has most scandalised me in this whole affair has been the self-righteous, judgemental attitude of some of the Cardinal's fellow bishops. They seemed more than willing to cast the first stone and point the finger of condemnation. Have they never read the apostle Paul who tells us that "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and, as ministers of the Gospel, would they not wish to emulate Jesus in the way he dealt with the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11)?
I thank God for Fr John Creanor and the parishioners of Our Lady of the Waves in Dunbar who have borne witness to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the heart of the Christian faith.Revd Paul Symonds OBE, Glengormley, Co Antrim, N Ireland
It is extraordinary that Cardinal O'Brien's friend Fr John Creanor can allegedly pledge to move in his legal team if there is a threat to move the cardinal from Scotland. Surely that is a direct challenge to Vatican authority? And what motivates the good Father when wrongdoing and hypocrisy have already been tacitly accepted by O'Brien?John Sweeney, Machen, Caerphilly, south Wales
It is to be hoped that not too many people from the Archdiocese of Boston read The Tablet - to see that their one-time Cardinal-Archbishop, Bernard Law, is still being feted in Rome (Letter from Rome, 18 May) must really gall. This man who, as the head of such a prominent diocese, was responsible for presiding over one of the worst ever paedophile scandals, was "spirited" off to Rome some years ago and clearly still enjoys some of the trappings of office. This is seen by his appearance at a celebratory Tridentine Mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore for the new papal nuncio to Colombia. A fellow archbishop in the USA has had to face the court there following similar events, I am sure that he would wish to have had the same opportunity as Bernard Law.Gail Brown, Kidderminster, Worcs
I read The Tablet's 4 May issue the week after publication following my return from the Three Confessions Conference, an event I had never attended before. It is a coming together of Anglicans, Lutherans and Catholics (both German and English) from Saxon-Anhalt and Worcestershire. It was with interest therefore that I read your editorial, ("Thinking the unthinkable"), with its references to the German bishops and Anglican-Catholic dialogue. It is in this context that I found myself comparing my three days of shared discussion, socialising and worship with the reality of ecumenical relations within the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
I was one of five members of the English Catholic contingent (all lay) and our shared experience was one of enjoyment and spiritual uplift. It bore out yet again my experience that our common ground is stronger than our differences and I truly felt that the Spirit was at work. The conference theme was the future of Christian values in society and it was clear that all three denominations are at work in the world both at an institutional level and the grass roots. Perhaps strengthening such activity here could help, as your article calls it, "put organic union back on the agenda".James Quinn, Redditch
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