190. Jerusalem's Meaning For People Besides Jews

In "Bridging the Gap Between Arab and Jew" (Sept. 24) Marek Fuchs, in the Westchester Section of the New York Times, quotes Joe Sayegh, who heads the Arab-American Foundation, as saying: "Look, the Catholics have the Vatican, Muslims have Mecca, Jerusalem is for the Jews - it is logical..." On the contrary, Mr. Sayegh, is not logical at all. Even Mr. Fuchs implies this when he elaborates that Mr. Sayegh "explained that Christians and Muslims have ties to the land too."

Mr, Sayegh's flawed logic is obvious. He refers to "Muslims" rather than Sunni or Shia, to "Jews" rather than Reform or Orthodox. So why does he refer to "Catholics" rather than Christians? Is he pandering to Jewish interests?

Christians, not just Catholics, have more holy sites in the Holy Land, including Jerusalem, than any other religion. Even for Catholics the Vatican can never be a substitute for Jerusalem where Christ instituted the Eucharist, died and rose on the third day. Jerusalem is the birthplace of Christianity, not the Vatican.

Christians don't just have "ties" to the land, they are rooted in the land. Americans must realize that there has been an indigenous Christian community living in the Holy Land since the time of Christ. Their ancestors go back thousands of years. Their rights, too often violated, must be upheld.

It is wrong and disingenuous to minimize the importance of Jerusalem for all Christians of all denominations simply to placate Jewish interests.

October 15, 2000