Letters To The Editor


January 28, 2003

Israel should end occupation if it wants peace

Having recently returned from two weeks in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, I completely agree with Hope Keller that Israel is fighting a war it will never win ("Israel holds the key to ending a war it will never win," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 12).

I traveled with a group called Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace and visited all the major universities in Israel and the occupied territories. Our group was constantly impressed with the dehumanizing nature of the military occupation and its effect on all phases of Palestinian life, including education.

The "internal" checkpoints within the occupied territories are a case in point. These checkpoints are set up between Palestinian towns. Thus they are not intended to prevent passage into Israel, but simply to thwart the movement of Palestinians within their own territory.

We witnessed Palestinians randomly singled out and detained. We talked to female college students routinely sexually harassed by Israeli soldiers as they pass checkpoints on their way to class. We talked to two doctors who, the day before, had been on their way from Jenin to a nearby village to administer health services. They were forced to disrobe from the waist up and detained for 90 minutes.

We repeatedly heard the complaint from Palestinians that it was impossible to predict what might happen at a checkpoint or how long it might take to get through. A soldier in a bad mood can detain anyone for an indefinite period, and there is no appeal.

By making it impossible for Palestinians to lead normal lives, these internal checkpoints generate a great deal of animosity against the Israelis.

And what is the specific security benefit for Israel? We asked this question individually to several Knesset members and Israeli government officials. In no instance were we given a specific answer, even though we repeatedly pressed the matter.

I hope Israel will heed Ms. Keller's advice and end the military occupation. I see no other road to peace.

Patrick Loy


Israel must be sure Arabs want peace

I agree with a lot of what Hope Keller had to say in her column "Israel holds the key to ending a war it will never win" (Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 12). There will never be peace without a viable two-state solution. And Jewish settlements are just as destabilizing as homicide bombings.

However, Ms. Keller seems to imply that Palestinian terrorism is the product of Israeli occupation. But if Palestinians are simply trying to liberate their homeland, why did they not attack Egypt and Jordan after they annexed the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1948?

I would argue that the dispute is not over liberation of the territories but about the Palestinian dream of pushing Israel into the Mediterranean.

And considering that pre-1967 Israel is only 8 miles wide at one point, one can certainly understand the fear Israel has with completely withdrawing from a Gaza Strip and West Bank that have historically been used as military staging platforms by Israel's enemies.

It is merely rational for Israel to seek some assurance of peace before turning territory over to a Palestinian Authority that has sought the annihilation of Israel.

Sean Oakley


Lee Boyd Malvo is not an adult

The Sun reported on Jan. 16 that "Malvo to be tried as adult." How can this be?

Lee Boyd Malvo is a 17-year-old adolescent. He is not an adult. He was not an adult at the time of the murders he is accused of committing. He is not an adult now.

All the "as thoughs" and "as ifs" in the world won't make young Mr. Malvo a grown-up.

And no matter how heinous the crime in question, our courts must deal with reality, not pretense.

Frederick C. Ruof


Colleges also favor children of alumni

President Bush announced his administration will challenge the affirmative action policies at the University of Michigan in a case before the Supreme Court ("Race-based admissions plan is `divisive, unfair,' Bush says," Jan. 16).

According to the president, "discrimination is wrong." I agree. But what about other kinds of discrimination in university admissions?

Ivy League schools in particular reserve places in their classes for the children of alumni. The president himself may have benefited from this kind of discrimination when he was admitted to Yale.

These "legacy" admissions policies discriminate against more-qualified students whose places are taken by the children of privilege. Let's hope we see a lawsuit challenging such discrimination on behalf of the wealthy.

Ellen Robbins


INS has no business tracking U.S. citizens

I was appalled to read that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is requiring United States citizens to fill out forms upon their departure or arrival in the United States ("INS plans to question travelers entering, leaving United States," Jan. 4).

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