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Holy Land Tour

I commend Mr. Klompeen on his firsthand observations drawing attention to the hardships experienced by the Palestinian population in Israel (“Lessons of a Holy Land Tour”). Without minimizing these daily hardships I wish to point out that the plight of the Palestinians has not all been Israel’s fault. Much of their misery has been due to the lack of wise leadership and the regular inciting to violence by the surrounding Arab states.

Before the Six Day War of 1967, Palestinians in Israel enjoyed full rights of citizenship in addition to exemption from military service.

Once the Palestinians make a public declaration recognizing the historic rights of the Jewish people to live in their ancestral land and denounce all forms of violence, then perhaps negotiations can lead somewhere.

Rev. Issa Saliba
Oshawa, Ontario

The article “Lessons of a Holy Land Tour” gives a biased and inaccurate view of what is happening in Israel. Instead of saying our representatives in Washington should be informed that we disapprove of the Israeli government's policies toward the Palestinians, he should ask, Why is Washington supporting Hamas, a group dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state rather than the only pro-American stable ally in the Middle East?

Chet Geels
Grand Rapids, Mich.

I endorse the article by Don Klompeen (“Lessons of a Holy Land Tour”). There were all too few Bonhoeffers in Europe, including The Netherlands, during the 40s and 50s of the previous century. Too many denominations and pastors waited too long to expose the extreme dangers of national socialism and thus became implicated in the atrocities of World War II.

If one truly loves Israelis, not only Palestinians, denominations and pastors would speak out against the dangerous games the Israelis, aided by many governments, including our own, are playing. Our lack of involvement contributes directly to the radicalization of so many of our young people.

Simon Wolfert
Surrey, British Columbia

While I agree that more can and should be done for the Palestinians (“Lessons of a Holy Land Tour,”) this article is far too one-sided. While many Palestinians are undoubtedly peace loving, the few “bad seeds” are ruining peace for everyone else. Israel finds itself in a battle for its very survival, and having a Palestinian contingent within its borders is an invitation to suicide. The best solution remains two states, which Israel has consistently agreed to but at the same time required a clear acknowledgment from the other side that Israel has a right to exist.

—Alan Miller
Sayville, NY

Obviously the writer (“Lessons of a Holy Land Tour”) intends to make a positive contribution. [But] my Jewish and Palestinian colleagues, with whom I was deeply involved in the peace process working through all the opinions expressed and evaluating all the proposed actions, from conflict to conflict, were dealing with an issue that was complicated far beyond the concept any Holy Land pilgrim could conceive.

—Sidney DeWaal
Lake Chapala, Mexico

I appreciated “Lessons of a Holy Land Tour.” Basic to the current problems is the fact that the Israeli government allows the illegal taking of Palestinian lands. The governments of the U.S. and Canada are giving Israel unqualified support (probably the only nations in the world to do so). I would love to see some healing in the Holy Land.

—Martin Vegt
Vernon, British Columbia

Outreach

I found the answer to the question “Do we take the salvation of our neighbors seriously enough?” (FAQ) less instructive than the question itself. The heart of the question was, “Have we forgotten what’s at stake?” not, “Should we scare unbelievers with the threat of hell?” It is the same predisposition of brushing aside the reality of a Christless eternity that undermines our devotion to reaching the lost in contemporary western culture. Heaven is for real, but so is hell. I can only imagine how bad living apart from God must be, given the high cost he paid to rescue me from that fate. This truth should inspire all believers to ache for the lost as Christ does.

Don Weshouse
Dorr, Mich.

Worthwhile Watching

I’ve been a trooper for 14 years and I can say what I have seen has changed me (“Worthwhile Watching: A Christian Critic’s Take on the Movies”). We don’t need to expose ourselves to everything. I find explicit sexuality and violence extremely offensive and destructive. We need to  grow in our relationship with Christ, stand up for what is right, and not deceive ourselves by thinking we can handle it. Don’t be afraid to walk out; we can discuss movies without seeing them. Perhaps we can even say, “You have said why this movie is important to you, now let me explain why Christ is important to me.”

Dawn DeVisser
Ovid, Mich.

Church in Society

I agree with Doug Vande Griend (“The Role of the Church in Society: Two Perspectives”) that the church, in its institutional aspect, should not presume to speak with one voice on political, scientific, and economic issues. I disagree with Kathy Vandergrift’s call for the institutional church to take stands on political, scientific, and economic issues. Here’s the bottom line: Vandergrift would be more welcome in a church run on Vande Griend’s principles than Vande Griend and I would be in a church run by Vandergrift’s principles.

—Raymond P. Opeka
Grand Rapids, Mich.

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