- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2000

ADL not 'mad as hell' over apology by pope


We were surprised to see The Washington Times reprint an attack on Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), by Joseph Sobran ("Praying to whom?" Culture, et cetera, April 12).
Mr. Sobran deliberately distorts Mr. Foxman and ADL's position as being "mad as hell" about Pope John Paul II's Liturgy of Forgiveness. In fact, we said we were "saddened and disappointed that this pontiff, who has done so much to further Roman Catholic-Jewish relations, stopped short in addressing specific Catholic wrongs against the Jewish people, especially the Holocaust."
Mr. Sobran is well-known for using his columns to vent his hostility toward Israel and to promote his preoccupation of the supposed power of American Jewry. In his March 16 column, which The Times excerpted, he twists ADL's words to further his views. The record shows that ADL and Mr. Foxman, who has met with Pope John Paul II on four occasions, have expressed appreciation and admiration for his outreach and sensitivity toward the Jewish people and for advancing Catholic-Jewish relations more than any other figure in Catholic Church history.
Yes, we may have some honest differences with the Vatican on certain issues, but we are engaged with the Vatican in an ongoing dialogue to resolve them. Mr. Sobran misrepresents ADL to promote his distorted views of the American Jewish community.
KENNETH JACOBSON
Assistant national director
Anti-Defamation League
New York

Our rights come from the Creator, not the Constitution


Sherry Hearn's story, as told by Nat Hentoff, is worthy of a tale of terror by Stephen King ("Teacher defends constitutional rights," Sweet Land of Liberty, Op-Ed, April 10). So many of us have forgotten that our rights were not written into the Constitution by the Founders, who made a point by their resistance to the Bill of Rights. Many of the Founders believed that our rights were granted by the Creator and could not be listed so easily.
The Constitution was written as a restricting document against the federal government. Whatever power was not granted to the federal government remained with the people. We, the people, formed our government, granting it some of our rights. We must not forget that the power remains with us, or we will find ourselves with the horror of an absolute government that believes itself to be our creator instead of our creation.
Beware of the chant: The government giveth, and the government taketh away. Blessed be the name of the government.
ANTHONY PASSANITI
San Antonio

Another opportunity to resolve dispute over descendants of Jefferson


This is in response to Wesley Pruden's April 14 column, "One flag down and two memorials to go" ("Pruden on Politics, April 14). As a Jefferson family historian, one who assisted Eugene A. Foster with the much-publicized Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings DNA study, I wish to clarify a matter. The study, which investigated a supposed relationship between Jefferson and Hemings, has been distorted from the beginning by historical revisionists, some in various foundations and some in academia. (See www.angelfire.com/va/TJTruth for a better understanding of the study.)
Dan Jordan, president of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation (TJMF), which operates Monticello, has said that based on the study, "The best evidence available suggests the strong likelihood that Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings had a relationship over time that led to the birth of one and perhaps all of the known children of Sally Hemings." There are people with agendas who would have the public believe this.
In fact, the study showed only that a male Jefferson, eight of whom lived within 20 miles of Monticello, fathered a Hemings child. Nothing proves conclusively that Thomas Jefferson ever fathered a Hemings child. My long study of Jefferson convinces me that he fathered no Hemings child. However, there may be another way of finding out.
There is a newly located source of DNA in Kansas the remains of William Hemings. William said that his father was Thomas Jefferson. His DNA could probably solve this long-running controversy, but descendants have refused to permit exhumation. The TJMF has so far refused to support the exhumation, which would enable science to confirm or deny the Hemings oral family history. What does the grave of William Hemings hold in this great controversy and why a denial of a source of critical DNA?
The fact that many in the media are not aware of the real findings of the study and tend to accept the findings of the TJMF as fact speaks ill of our great country's current thoughts on this topic.
It is because of the miscomprehensions that our citizens have about this study that a committee of concerned historians, scientists, lawyers, authors, journalists and patriots have formed the Thomas Jefferson Blue Ribbon Committee to re-evaluate the TJMF findings as published on Jan. 26.
HERBERT BARGER
Coordinator
Thomas Jefferson Blue Ribbon Committee
Fort Washington

No peace with Colombia's paramilitary strategy


Drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey's shameless April 14th op-ed column, "Aid Colombia" ignored the potentially disastrous effects all that military aid could have on the fierce political violence raging in that country.
The Clinton administration's $1.6 billion emergency military aid proposal falls far short of the real plan Colombia needs to avoid a bloody and pointless civil war. Colombia must look for ways to end the escalating political violence, which has only been worsened by a terror campaign directed at rebellious civilian populations.
Colombia's counterinsurgency strategy includes the use of murder, disappearances, massacres and the deliberate, massive displacement of guerrilla-supporting populations, through the use of illegal "paramilitary" units.
Encouraged and often under the command of the Colombian military, according to the report of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Office of Colombia, paramilitary groups assassinate and massacre "subversives" those thought to be sympathetic to the guerrillas, in a war neither Colombia nor the United States wants to discuss in any detail. Numerous Colombian military officers have become notorious war criminals by anyone's standards, yet enjoy total impunity for crimes they have committed against the same people they are supposed to be protecting.
Colombia's parallel strategy of forcibly displacing rural populations also violates international humanitarian law and causes tragic, irreparable damage to Colombian society. Of the more than 1 million internally displaced Colombians, two-thirds are minors. Only one in eight has access to education. One in three has access to health care. These poor children suffer from the neglect of the Colombian state and the ignorance of Washington policy-makers. Many are recruited into the ranks of the guerrilla or paramilitary militias, renewing the cycle of violence.
The Colombian peace process must move beyond publicity stunts to address these and other profound problems facing Colombia today. The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, should use the proposed cease-fire to further the Common Agenda agreed in May 1999, and the United States should support the peace process.
Democracy and negotiation are key to relieving the pressure. Colombia must find a way to manage strikes, demonstrations and even terrorist attacks without resorting to acts of terror itself. Until Colombia abandons its paramilitary strategy, there is no hope for peace.
PAUL WOLF
Apex, N.C.

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