Israel's claim to its landWilliam Pfaff's column...


September 02, 1996

Israel's claim to its land

William Pfaff's column, ''America's false perceptions of Islam,'' Aug. 13, engenders false perceptions of the history of the Middle East.

Mr. Pfaff rationalizes and excuses the outrageous behavior of terrorists. This sends an open invitation to terrorists all over the world, for what criminal would not be happy to find justification for illegal and immoral acts?

Mr. Pfaff notes that a ''brilliant Arab empire had at its peak ruled from Central Asia through the Middle East and North Africa.'' He does not mention the terror, violence and murder that accompanied this conquest. He does not discuss the factions of extremism and fanaticism long before Arab armies were defeated.

Mr. Pfaff implies that all the Arabs were unified. He ignores the rivalry between the Ottoman Turks and the Arabs.

Another gross error is that ''Israel was forcibly implanted in what had been Arab Palestine.'' Israel as a Jewish nation has documented, archaeological evidence of its settlement in the promised land dating back to the year 1000 B.C.E., 3,000 years ago.

Some date Jewish presence to the patriarchal age (more than 3,800 years ago). The Jews have continued to live in the land since Roman times.

Jewish claim is based not only on long presence, but also on development and rebuilding beginning in the 19th century. The land had been devastated by the Turks and later neglected and undeveloped by the Arabs.

Rita L. K. Plaut


How can Dole's budget balance?

As a fiscal conservative, I am mystified by Bob Dole's arithmetic.

First, he insists on a balanced budget.

Second, he would make four major tax reductions: a 15 percent across-the-board income tax cut, a $500 per child tax credit, a 50 percent reduction in the capital gains tax, a repeal of the higher rate of tax on Social Security benefits for higher-income taxpayers. The lost revenue amounts to about $500 billion over six years.

Third, there are no specific spending reductions. Indeed, there are some increases: increased military spending, educational scholarships. He has to pay interest on the national debt, Congress' expenses, the judiciary, the White House and necessary departments such as state, treasury, justice. . . . I can't believe he would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission or other such necessary federal agencies.

There isn't much left to cut, and whatever there is is minuscule compared to the $500 billion in revenue reduction.

He says he would ''end the IRS as we know it.'' The government would lose its ability to collect the remaining income taxes, the main source of federal revenue.

The present administration has made a good start toward deficit reduction, reducing the deficit in the Bush budget by 50 percent, from $490 billion a year to $245 billion. There is a long way to go. Does anyone know how the Dole budget can possibly balance?

Frank T. Gray


Gay marriages morally wrong

I take offense to letter writer Janet Goldstein's Aug. 27 assertions in "Gay marriages are here to stay" that the subjects ++ of polls indicating a majority disapproval for gay marriages are "small-minded."

Most of the people who disapprove of gay marriages are those who believe that they are morally wrong. A code of morality should not be viewed as being "ignorant" or "mean-spirited," as Ms. Goldstein states.

At a time when the country's ethical heart seems to be on the verge of failure, it's absurd to criticize society's waning morality to the point of extinction. We used to look to people who held true their Judeo-Christian values. Today we attack their faiths and tell them to be more open-minded to what they view as immoral.

I find Ms. Goldstein's comments to be mean-spirited and disparaging. How can anyone think that disapproval for such a divisive issue as gay marriage should be labeled as not having "common sense" when it's a majority who believe that it's wrong?

Rick Perry


School vouchers not a panacea

Mona Charen has it about half right (Aug. 21, "Memo to parents: Do your homework"). Educators have long known that parental involvement is key to the success of all students. That's why members of the National Education Association have been beating the drum about parental involvement for years -- and why we continue to emphasize it as an essential ingredient in education.

Tying parental involvement to the "school choice" argument, however, is a major stretch. For the record, NEA believes in school choice -- among public schools. We believe it's constitutionally correct to use public funds for public schools. What we and the majority of Americans can't accept is the use of taxpayer dollars for private school tuitions. Americans -- Republicans and Democrats alike, according to recent polls -- would rather see resources go to the sites where most of us get our educations: public schools.

Education vouchers don't guarantee more parental involvement, better student achievement or safer or better schools. Despite all the rhetoric about vouchers giving parents a "choice" of schools, the real choice is left to private school admissions officials. It's they, not parents, who select which students will move from public to private schools. Meanwhile, vouchers drain valuable financial resources from the public schools most students will still attend.

Keith Geiger


NB The writer is president of the National Education Association.

Libya can keep Farrakhan

I note with disdain that Louis Farrakhan went to Libya to accept a $250,000 award from Muammar el Kadafi, the bankroller of terrorists and harborer of terrorist killers.

Kadafi is undoubtedly responsible for the deaths of many U.S. citizens, among others.

I believe that a proper response from the U.S. government would be to cancel Mr. Farrakhan's U.S. passport, and let him stay there.

Lawrence E. Kase


Pub Date: 9/02/96

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