Letters to the Editor – The New York Times


Handel’s Masterpiece

To the Editor:

In his review of “Messiah” by Jonathan Keates (Dec. 24), Leon Botstein notes that audiences are “brought to their feet by the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus.” For the origin of that tradition, I refer interested readers to a Dec. 19, 2009, Boston Globe article by Matthew Guerrieri: “Royal example, religious devotion, reassuring ritual, rousing musicality — take your pick. Or don’t: Remaining seated during the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus ranks as one of the more effortless demonstrations of anti-authoritarian dissent.”

JOEL SOLONCHE
BLOOMING GROVE, N.Y.

The Story of the Jews

To the Editor:

In reviewing Simon Schama’s “The Story of the Jews, Volume 2, Belonging: 1492-1900” (Dec. 24), Roger Cohen writes that Schama makes “an eloquent and a far-reaching case for why Jews needed a small piece of earth they could call home.” Cohen describes the heavy price paid by the Palestinian people but holds fast to the belief that the cost in systematic injustice and the corrosive effect on Israeli society “was not inevitable.” Cohen is unwilling to see that the price exacted for that “small piece of earth” is the inevitable outcome. Zionism is understandable as a 19th-century response to millenniums of persecution. But as a project of colonial dispossession, it is neither sustainable nor defensible in the 21st century. The only hope for a decent future for both Palestinians and Jews is one that envisions a state that does not privilege one people over another.

MARK BRAVERMAN
PORTLAND, ORE.

To the Editor:

Roger Cohen claims that the establishment of Israel and the occupation of the West Bank has resulted in “the exile” of the Palestinians. In 1947, when the United Nations voted to approve the establishment of a Jewish state, Palestinian Arabs and existing Arab countries refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist and refused to accept the territory allocated for the Palestinian Arabs’ own independent nation. Palestinian Arabs have repeatedly launched wars against Israel. When Cohen blames Israel, and the occupation of the West Bank, for ongoing bellicosity, he ignores the ugly truth of what is keeping the occupation necessary.

ROSALIND FELDMAN
ROCKVILLE, MD.

To the Editor:

I commend Roger Cohen for his appreciation of Simon Schama’s book, but his review should have stopped in 1900, when Schama does. Any comments on what happened after that belong on an op-ed page and not in a review.

HELENE M. HARPMAN
OKLAHOMA CITY

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