Reverend Wright & the UCC
Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Thanks for Eudora Smith’s “The Liberation of Reverend Wright” [May 5]. So, there is an echo of the biblical prophetic tradition that remains in the church in America after all! Most of us know precious little about the black church and its rhetorical traditions. The miserable performance of the media covering the snippets from Jeremiah Wright’s sermons reveals their utter ignorance of such traditions, which have sustained millions. Wright stands in a long line of great African-American preachers who have not only read the prophets but had the courage to emulate them.
In Eudora Smith’s praiseworthy article, her brief passage on the roots of the United Church of Christ doesn’t mention the counterpart to the Congregational Church of the Pilgrims and Puritans, namely the Evangelical and Reformed Churches, with their contrasting geographical and ethnic makeup, the latter including many German and Hungarian Americans. The black members of the UCC are part of a denomination that includes a broad range of other members. Since the UCC is receiving a good bit of attention because of Barack Obama, it needs to be presented in broader terms.
LLOYD C. ENGELBRECHT
As a 1948 refugee from Palestine, I have had a keen interest in writings by progressive Jewish Americans on the Palestine/Israel peace process. Henry Siegman’s excellent moral criticism of Israel’s occupation and its treatment of Palestinians in “Tough Love for Israel” [May 5] takes a sharp turn when he refers to the events leading to the establishment of Israel in 1948, which he describes as a “noble Jewish national liberation struggle.” Surely Siegman is aware of Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which documents the execution of a plan, conceived and perfected by early Zionists, to dispossess and expel the bulk of the Arab population by acts that included well-documented massacres.
Because the United States and other Western countries glorified Israel’s 1947-48 enterprise, extreme Israelis know they can rely on similar justification of their current policy. This was vividly demonstrated by Prime Minister Menachem Begin, addressing the Knesset on May 2, 1982, criticizing a view that settlements outside the Green Line be stopped: “Settlement [within the Green Line] in areas populated by Arabs…was it moral or immoral?… If that decision is moral, then settlement near Nablus is moral.” Logically, the reverse would also be true. This point is not lost on Siegman, who writes: “Time and again, this history has shown that the less opposition Israel encounters from its friends in the West for its dispossession of the Palestinians, the more uncompromising its behavior.”