Hateful propaganda leads Muslim world to detest the West...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 05, 2002

Hateful propaganda leads Muslim world to detest the West

I agree with Thomas L. Friedman to the extent that he applauds the Bush administration's move to increase foreign aid to poor countries and asks for a foreign policy that pursues a course of "enlightened self-interest" ("Let's set a moral example for the world," Opinion * Commentary, March 20).

But he is very wrong to assume the Muslims who hate us do so because of our greed or support for their bad regimes or anything we have done. They hate us because they believe outrageous lies their preachers and media tell them about us.

The stories about what some Muslim preachers say in their mosques and teach in their schools are appalling. And some Muslim Web sites are disgusting.

All of this says nothing about Islam, generally; it merely describes the Muslim version of the Ku Klux Klan, which currently has enough money and deluded adherents to be dangerous.

Fortunately, there are effective ways to combat such lies, and the best ones don't even require government funds. Our newspapers, for instance, can continue or expand their reporting on the torrent of abuse flowing from the Arabic-language media and on the diversion of charitable funds into the hands of terrorists.

People sometimes think our government is our only means of national defense, but our media is formidable, too.

Valerie E. Alexander

Columbia

Saudis' olive branch is just a political ploy

While The Sun's editorial "An olive branch, terrorists and tanks" (March 30) was well-intended, the editors seem to be a bit naive in referring to the Arab world's "extraordinary offer of peace and recognition to Israel in exchange for withdrawing from occupied lands and forging an independent Palestinian state."

Substantially the same offer was made to Yasser Arafat by Israel's Ehud Barak (statehood, East Jerusalem and 90 percent of the so-called occupied territories) at Camp David more than 18 months earlier. Mr. Arafat refused.

Accordingly, the Saudi initiative appears politically motivated. And what is "extraordinary" is the belief by most of the world that the Saudis and other Arab nations that have not yet made peace with Israel are sincere in wanting peace.

Israel will respond positively to any sincere effort by any state seeking normalized relations with it.

But if the Arabs truly seek peace with Israel, they must convince the Palestinians also to seek peace, rather than the destruction of Israel.

Sy Steinberg

Baltimore

Nations' friendship with Iraq betrays Desert Storm soldiers

The Saudi and Kuwaiti rapprochement with Iraq ("Mideast conflict damaging U.S. ties with Arab states," April 2) is spit in the faces of the 372 Americans who died in the Persian Gulf theater of operations during Desert Shield and Desert Storm while protecting these corrupt governments from invasion by their new-found friend, Iraq.

Samuel Zygler

Baltimore

Sharon's policy of force leads Israel into quagmire

Neither Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon nor the Bush administration understands the change that suicide bombers have wrought on the political landscape. And they have been sucked into the suicide mentality themselves. They seem incapable of connecting the dots between Mr. Sharon's policy of force and the death of innocent Israelis.

But no matter how they try to blame Yasser Arafat, the Israeli deaths are directly attributable to the policy of force. And Mr. Sharon seems intent on sacrificing more Israelis to this disastrously failed policy. Worse, while making Israelis less secure, he trades on that same insecurity to lead them further into the quagmire.

Before Mr. Sharon's government, Mr. Arafat was a weak peace partner. Now there is little left among the Palestinians to work with, but the Israelis must pull back from the policy of force before there is nothing left at all.

William S. King

Silver Spring

The writer is the director of the Center for the Study of Alternative Futures.

Religious leaders must take a stand against the carnage

After thousands of years as home to three religions, Jerusalem stinks of hatred and bloodshed.

Where are the religious leaders in this maelstrom? They seem content to allow their beliefs to be used to encourage monstrous acts of violence from fools backward enough to regard death as a doorway to paradise.

Humanity desperately needs its religious leaders to stand up and be counted.

William Jenkins

Bel Air

Freezing out public defenders is an abuse of police power

The city police union's recommendation that police officers "no longer cooperate" with public defenders as retaliation for the argument made in the Whitworth murder case that police planted evidence shows contempt for the very system officers are sworn to protect ("Public defender's allegation of framing irks police union," April 3).

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