Palestinians have an original right to Jerusalem

Daniel Pipes's misguided rhetoric ("Are the Palestinians acting like Zionists?" Sept. 6) attempts to discredit Palestinians' claim to Palestine by suggesting that their resistance to more than 50 years of displacement, massacres, and occupation by the state of Israel is merely a whiny territorial battle with Zionism. Although most of his language and facts are objectionable, his comments on Jerusalem are particularly offensive.

Mr. Pipes belittles Christian and Muslim attachment to Jerusalem as though their claims to the holy city had been fabricated in the past century. He should be reminded that when Palestinian Christians refer to the Bible in consulting the history of their people, it is because they are the actual descendants of the first followers of Christ.

They rightfully see themselves as the cumulative effect of 2,000 years of history in the Holy Land, and they have a stake in its future; it is an insult to suggest that they are merely copying Zionist tactics.

Jerusalem is not subject to monopoly by any single party, and that exclusivism in the city has always led to war. Rhetoric and propaganda aside, Israelis and Palestinians, and all adherents of the three Abrahamic religions, must seek creative ways to share the city in a way that honors the claims of all those who hold it sacred.

Rashid I. Khalidi Washington President, The American Committee on Jerusalem

'True' religion is resilient to politics

In his Sept. 7 opinion piece "Keep all religion out of campaigns," Pat Holt says that religion ought to be kept out of politics "to protect religion from the whims and transient passions to which politicians and governments are subject."

Mr. Holtfeels that the way in whichthe current candidates bandy about religiouslanguage in their campaigns is a violation of the intent of the Constitution to "keep religion out of politics."

Certainly the danger that religionmay become a political toolis ever present and citizens must always be vigilant.

However, true religion ismuch more resilient than the "transient whims and passions of politicians," and requires its "protection," not its removal from the political process. Also necessary is an intelligent and informed electorate that can distinguishauthentic speechfrom merely cosmetic rhetoric among the candidates.

If one desires to keep religion out of politics as Holt does, the "off" buttonis, as it always has been, the ballot box.

Tom Vande Berg Tokyo

'Reality TV'? Get real.

Regarding your Aug. 25 "Short Takes" column, "Surviving the end of 'Survivor' ": "Survivor 2," filmed in the Australian outback, airs this fall. But why go to such exotic climes for a dose of reality, when real survival skills could be tested closer to home?

Why not "Urban Survivor" - 39 days in a public-housing project where contestants endure the consequences of federal urban renewal. Catching and roasting rats for dinner or munching on beetle larvae - why that's a piece of cake compared with living in a rat- and roach-infested slum.

Urban blight with graffiti, gangs, and gunfire would make Pulau Tiga's beaches look like Club Med. What kind of contest is balancing on a wooden beam in the shallow waters of the South China Sea? "Urban Survivor" contestants would gain immunity through true feats of stamina such as taking public transportation to go grocery shopping. On "Urban Survivor," hitting the floor would be much more valuable than the ability to spear fish. And the stakes would be higher, too, because no one in their right mind would do this just for a million bucks.

Lorna Lippes Buffalo, N.Y.

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