Conference can't defuse Arab anger President Bush's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 15, 2002

Conference can't defuse Arab anger

President Bush's decision to convene a Middle East peace conference is "a step in the right direction" toward defusing Arab anger against America, according to Fawaz Gerges ("America must defuse mounting Arab anger," Opinion

Commentary, May 7). With the greatest respect for Mr. Gerges' work, I disagree.

My reading of Arab public opinion suggests most people see the conference as one more stalling tactic.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's dismissal of Yasser Arafat as an interlocutor leaves no one to negotiate with. And Arabs know Mr. Sharon seeks to justify continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank until a new leadership - one willing to negotiate on Mr. Sharon's terms - emerges. According to Mr. Sharon, that could take as much as a generation. This could give Mr. Sharon, and his ilk, time to find a way to legitimate the transfer of Palestinians to Jordan.

FOR THE RECORD - The May 15 letter "Ashamed of effort to enforce racist will" incorrectly characterized the University of Maryland Hospital a state government organization. The University of Maryland Medical System is now a private, nonprofit entity. The Sun regrets the error.

Arab opinion sees Secretary of State Colin Powell's proposed summer conference as another ploy to delay any resolution to the Palestinian crisis and to give Mr. Sharon more time to achieve his goals.

If America's vital interests involve defusing Arab anger, we will have to do much, much more than propose a summer conference.

But I see no inclination in the Bush administration to do much more. I predict Arab anger toward American policies will only grow.

Peter D. Molan

Baltimore

The writer is a retired Middle East analyst in the U.S. Department of Defense.

Israel shows respect for Christian shrine

Sherrilyn Ifill states that Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity "have been violated in the most brutal way by the Israeli military while the world watches in silence" ("Christians, stand up for peace in Holy Land" (Opinion * Commentary, May 9).

What she fails to realize is that the Israelis took pains to try to respect the holiness of the site while murderers of their civilians cowardly ran into the church for refuge. Moreover, clergy in the church reported beatings of their colleagues, desecration of crosses and pilfering of artifacts by Palestinian terrorists.

Yet Israel waited patiently while trying to capture terrorists in the church without any greater loss of innocent lives or destruction of the holy site.

Marc Okun

Baltimore

It was the Palestinian terrorists who shot the locks off the doors to the Church of the Nativity and stormed in with their guns, taking everyone inside hostage.

These are the same terrorists who dupe impressionable youths into becoming martyrs who willingly give up their lives. And yet, when confronted by their enemies, these terrorists cynically seek refuge, at gunpoint, in one of Christianity's holiest places.

The Israeli army could have easily stormed the church and killed the terrorists, but it showed much more respect for this holy place - even as the terrorists held the church hostage while trying to work out a deal to save their own skins.

Iver Mindel

Cockeysville

Let marriage remain a personal decision

As someone who has been happily married for 52 years, has counseled more than 200 couples in preparation for marriage and practices marriage and family therapy, I strongly oppose the government's taking on the role of a "marriage mill" to resolve issues related to public assistance. ("U.S. aims to nudge couples to altar," May 9).

Such a program will just burden the dockets of divorce courts and increase the possibility of spousal abuse.

At its deepest level, marriage is a personal, sexual, spiritual companionship ordained and instituted by God. Let's keep it that way.

Clyde R. Shallenberger

Baltimore

Ashamed of effort to enforce racist will

The only thing that revolts me more than Dr. Jesse C. Coggins' racist will is that a state government organization (the University of Maryland Hospital) tried to use the will's racist provisions to get the proceeds of Dr. Coggins' estate - under any legal ruse ("Keswick wins suit over will, $31 million," May 7).

It makes me ashamed to be a citizen of the state.

Anita Heygster

Pasadena

Homosexual priests at center of scandal

The letter "Sublimated sexuality promotes pedophilia" (April 29) illustrates the lack of understanding that results from The Sun's bias toward "political correctness."

If The Sun had accurately identified the problems as one of homosexual priests, the suggested remedy of married clergy would have never been raised.

Richard R. Tatlow

Marriottsville

State's Democrats show real leadership

As Del. Maggie McIntosh pointed out in "State's Democrats progressive, prudent" (Opinion * Commentary, May 1), during this tough economic year, the Democrats managed to fund essential services, including health care, public education and public safety, while also being financially prudent. They even managed to preserve the state's tax cut.

They did this by prioritizing and making wise use of the state's rainy day funds.

And where were the Republicans? Standing on the sidelines taking cheap shots.

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