- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2006

Code of personal conduct

The European Union commissioner for justice, freedom and security has proposed a code of conduct that would commit journalists to “prudence” when reporting on Islam and other religions (“EU leader pushes code of conduct for journalists,” World, Thursday).

However, the fact that a person — or millions — feel “humiliation” or any other emotion resulting from something seen or heard is the responsibility of that individual. The ideas held by that adult underlie the emotions and are chosen and/or retained by choice (albeit sometimes requiring effort to modify). No one else but the person is responsible for the feelings experienced by agreement or disagreement, spoken or printed, with his or her ideas.

This bears no resemblance to a government fining, imprisoning or killing practitioners of a religion. Journalists, editors, publishers and readers who consider publication of articles, essays, news stories and cartoons as harm to those who feel “humiliation” do not understand the nature of harm.

KITTY ANTONIK WAKFER

Casa Grande, Ariz.

Museum is faithful to the historical record

As project director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum overseeing its creation between 1988-1993, I accept complete and full responsibility for the absence of the grand mufti of Jerusalem in the museum (“Undeniable historical links,” Op-Ed, Thursday). He was — as any responsible student of the Third Reich knows — a bit player in the murder of the Jews. Raul Hilberg mentions him twice in the 1,388 pages of his magisterial work “The Destruction of the European Jews.” Leni Yahil mentioned him also twice in her 800 pages of “The Holocaust.” Lucy Dawidowicz does not mention him at all in “The War Against the Jews.” Louis Snyder has no entry on the mufti in his “Encyclopedia of the Third Reich.” His name appears once in the “Yale Encyclopedia of the Holocaust” edited by Walter Laqueur and there only in conjunction to funding that Mussolini provided for attacks against the British. I could go on and on but the reader should get the point: He was not very important.

I just reviewed my much-used copy of “The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust,” which I have read in its entirety tens of times when we edited for electronic publication. My copy has nine columns devoted to the mufti. There are scores of entries that are given more space. And if, as the authors contend, the encyclopedia considered him second to Hitler in the allocation of space, it would be a gross distortion of scholarship, unworthy of so distinguished a publication.

At best the mufti’s role deserved a caption of a photograph, which, according to my memory, is all he gets in Israel’s National Memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem.

The Holocaust occurred in Europe. Its perpetrators were the Germans and their allies and collaborators. The role of the mufti as an ally was minor and had little to no impact on the course of events. He certainly would have wanted to do more; he was a vehement opponent of Zionism and certainly had no concern and considerable hatred for the Jews, but he amounted to very little in the Holocaust.

There are many reasons to be disturbed by contemporary Islamic anti-Semitism — as an American and as a Jew. And many reasons to be concerned with the absurdity and obscenity of Holocaust denial and portrayal of Jews.

The home page of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum contains a denunciation of the Iranian president’s statement on Israel and on Holocaust denial as appropriate. It has had programs on contemporary anti-Semitism, which is also appropriate and proper.

I have been associated with the museum since before there was even the idea of creating a museum, as deputy director of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust (1979-80), as director of the Research Institute (1993-1997) and as a member of the Holocaust Memorial Council from 1998-2003, and I have never heard a discussion of political correctness, but I have been party of all sorts of discussion regarding historical truths.

When my distinguished former colleague Dr. Walter Reich was director of the museum and in charge of its content, he did not propose that we add the mufti to the content of the permanent exhibition. He did quite rightly insist that the words Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek and Chelmno be inscribed in the Hall of Remembrance.

But Chuck Morse and Carol Greenwald are advocating that the museum instrumentalize the Holocaust, distort its history to score contemporary political points.

The museum’s task is to remain faithful to the historical record. It is the integrity of its exhibition and its rootedness in scholarship that is one of the reasons why it has assumed a respected place in the life of Washington.

MICHAEL BERENBAUM

Director

Sigi Ziering Institute

Professor

University of Judaism

Los Angeles, Calif.

Ramsey needs to stay

The five individuals who have declared their candidacy for the D.C. mayor’s position have already demonstrated how noncommittal and wimpy they can be. When asked at a public debate held at American University, where key issues were discussed, whether they would continue Chief Charles H. Ramsey’s reign at the Metropolitan Police Department, they all remained reticent and demonstrated no support whatsoever for the chief (“Mayoral candidates dodge gay ‘marriage,’ Ramsey issues,” Metropolitan, Friday).

Equally as out of place was Democrat Michael A. Brown’s criticism of Mayor Anthony A. Williams for bringing Chief Ramsey from Chicago to the District, claiming the District needs to “grow its own talent.”

These five individuals certainly did not display any degree of common sense on this occasion, and this silence is unimpressive. Moreover, they all seem to be lacking an awareness of the attributes and successful achievements that Chief Ramsey’s presence as a leader of the Metropolitan Police Department has brought to this city and this region.

This city is very fortunate to have Chief Ramsey in place as a law-enforcement leader, and he should remain there regardless of who is elected the new mayor. He is an admirable leader and a key asset to law enforcement in the nation’s capital. He is highly respected, not only in this region but nationally as well. Chief Ramsey is keenly aware of the acute crime issues that face the city. He has made consistent, diligent efforts to reduce crime and always strives to work in an integrative fashion with other law-enforcement entities in the region. He is intelligent, street savvy and forthright. He speaks the truth and tells it like it is, which is a rare but laudatory and much-needed quality in present times.

It must be recognized that many diverse reasons cause crime and no police chief anywhere can solve it quickly or completely. Politicians unfairly have a tendency to deflect blame on law-enforcement leaders for statistical outcomes of crime and conditions. What these potential mayoral candidates need to clearly focus on is the fact that Chief Ramsey — whether they know it or not — is the best of the best. He has an outstanding reputation and the Metropolitan Police Department has a quality leader in its midst. He is certainly a model to emulate.

For any of the mayoral candidates to even contemplate replacing him is not only a ludicrous thought but also would result in the most monumental mistake that any of them could make. Chief Ramsey needs to stay.

KAREN L. BUNE

Adjunct professor

Department of Criminal Justice

George Mason University

Fairfax

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