Question of the Month Now that more than six months...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

April 13, 2002

Question of the Month

Now that more than six months have passed since Sept. 11, how has your life changed? Has daily life returned to its normal course or been transformed by the "war on terror"?

Or has the meaning of what is "normal" changed?

We are looking for 300 words or less. The deadline is April 22. Letters become the property of The Sun, which reserves the right to edit them. Letters should include your name and address, along with a day and evening telephone number. E-mail us: letters@baltsun.com; write us: Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001; fax us: 410-332-6977.

Bombers block peace

Moustafa Bayoumi's column "Brutal occupation spawned turmoil in Mideast today" (Opinion*Commentary, April 5) was interesting, but hardly forthcoming.

Although actions by the Israelis are certainly harsh, Mr. Bayoumi seems to imply they are without cause.

He didn't mention that they are brought about as Israel's response to bloody massacres of its civilians in streets, cafes, pizza parlors, buses, bar mitzvah celebrations and seders.

If similar horrors were occurring on U.S. streets, wouldn't Mr. Bayoumi favor pre-emptive action by Washington to put down the terror at its source?

Isn't that what we did, and still are doing, in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attack on this country?

It is clear that if suicide bombings would cease, the Israeli government would have no reason (or excuse) to do all the cruel things Mr. Bayoumi outlined in his article. The Palestinians would eventually get their independence, and the Israelis would be able to live in peace under secure conditions.

Neither side should get everything it wants at first. Long-term peace will depend on many compromises and the rebuilding of shattered trust between the two peoples.

But if it is handled in good faith, it will benefit all parties concerned, including the United States.

Yet peace in the Mideast cannot be negotiated while innocent civilians are being mowed down in the streets. When responsible Arabs take steps to end this kind of carnage by speaking against it and refusing to fund it, we will see real peace.

Meanwhile, well-meaning Palestinian defenders such as Mr. Bayoumi can write all they want about Israeli "brutality," and it will be wasted on forthright people.

Don Klein

Ocean City

I couldn't agree more with Moustafa Bayoumi that the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people is the root cause of the violence.

However, the occupiers are not the Israelis, as Mr. Bayoumi claims; the real problem is the way the Palestinian Authority controls its people.

At the start of the Oslo process in 1993, Israel invited Yasser Arafat and his cohorts to move from their exile in Tunis to take control of Gaza and the West Bank. Mr. Arafat was to set up a governing body to deal with the facets of Palestinian life within the territories.

The hope was that Mr. Arafat would steer a course of peace that would foster respect and understanding between Palestinians and Israelis. Instead, the Palestinian leadership chose the course of incitement and intimidation.

For instance, the Palestinian "police force," 40,000-strong and the world's largest per capita, was intended to keep civil order within Gaza and the West Bank. But instead of going after hard-line militants, these police hunt down Palestinians suspected of "collaborating" with Israel.

Palestinian journalists who dare to print anything critical of Mr. Arafat are another target for the police department.

Educating young minds to think in peaceful ways regarding their Israeli neighbors would be an important cornerstone for Palestinian society. Unfortunately, Mr. Arafat set up a school curriculum that uses textbooks showing maps of the state of Palestine in the exact area where Israel is today. The word "Israel" is not used.

Mr. Bayoumi writes, "There can be no solution to the conflict without an end to the occupation and a just resolution to the Palestinian question."

My hope is that when Mr. Arafat removes himself or is removed from center stage, a new leadership will emerge for the Palestinians.

Perhaps this will end the "occupation" and answer the yearnings of the Palestinians.

William Dackman

Owings Mills

`Real lawyers' defend poor with great zeal

We were saddened and angered by the comments of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 President Gary McLhinney ("Public defender's allegation of framing irks police union," April 3).

Mr. McLhinney suggested that criminal defendants in Baltimore get "real lawyers" and that FOP members "show their disgust" by refusing to agree to plea arrangements with public defenders.

But a "real lawyer" has a professional obligation to mount a zealous defense. This includes the obligation to argue the evidence and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from it without regard for public opinion.

Assistant Public Defender John Markus performed not only as a "real lawyer," but as a courageous one.

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