Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 16, 2005

Misguided effort to attack Israel and America

One misguided column can be dismissed but two on the same day presents a pattern that calls for a response.

Such was the case on Tuesday, with the columns by G. Jefferson Price III ("Exploitation of synagogues scars exit from Gaza," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 13) and Trudy Rubin ("Katrina debacle flattens America's image abroad," Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 13) that appeared in The Sun.

Mr. Price criticizes Israel for not destroying the synagogues it had built in its Gaza settlements.

Can anyone think of another country or people who have been criticized for not destroying its religious sites?

Mr. Price absolves the Palestinian Authority from preventing the ransacking of the synagogues by Palestinians because "it couldn't and it wouldn't."

One must ask: Why not? Protecting religious sites is a basic expectation of civilized people and countries throughout the world.

Immediately after the Palestinians torched the synagogues, Israel placed security forces around mosques inside Israel to protect them from possible retaliatory attacks by extremists.

If Israel can rightly be expected to protect mosques, why can't Palestinians be expected to protect synagogues?

Ms. Rubin reports on the blow Hurricane Katrina caused to America's image that she heard and read about at a Paris conference.

She quotes the French paper Le Monde: "Despite its military and economic potential which it is quick to deploy abroad, the hyperpower is incapable of dealing with an internal catastrophe of this dimension."

Need I remind Le Monde, Ms. Rubin and others that just two years ago, in the summer of 2003, nearly 15,000 French citizens died in their homes. Why? Because of a heat wave.

French government leaders, doctors, nurses and relief officials were away on vacation and procrastinated in coming home to save them.

So who are the French to criticize America's response to a natural tragedy?

Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg

Baltimore

Odd to blame Israel for Arab violence

Mobs destroy synagogue buildings in Gaza.

And according to G. Jefferson Price blame falls on the Israelis who left them standing rather than the Arabs who knocked them down ("Exploitation of synagogues scars exit from Gaza," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 13).

What an interesting point of view.

Jerry Levin

Baltimore

Emissions standards don't protect life

According to The Sun's editorial "Tilting at smokestacks" (Sept. 12), "Federal scientists estimate that one in six women of child-bearing age has enough mercury in her body to put her offspring at risk" [for damage to their brains and nervous systems].

Yet President Bush has given the polluters a gift by massively weakening new mercury regulations and postponing the date they take effect until 2018.

Obviously his often-repeated belief in a "culture of life" is just so much empty rhetoric.

What about congressmen and Senators who describe themselves as "pro-life"? What's their position on regulating mercury emissions?

And what of the organizations which call themselves "pro-family" or "pro-life"?

Did they lobby Mr. Bush or members of Congress and urge them to protect the unborn from mercury pollution?

Bob Jacobson

Pikesville

Words aren't enough to take responsibility

I am pleased that President Bush has decided to take responsibility for the federal government's failures ("Katrina response flawed, Bush says," Sept. 14).

However, simply saying so does not impose that burden. Actions - or inactions, in this case - that cause harm deserve some sort of punishment.

Mr. Bush should truly accept responsibility and resign.

In doing so, he would display an understanding of the enormity of the blame he has chosen to take on.

Jonathan Steingart

Baltimore

Waiving wage law will add to privation

On Sept. 8, President Bush signed an executive order waiving the Davis-Bacon Act for federally funded hurricane reconstruction. It is outrageous that the president would use a national tragedy to his advantage and to help the wealthy backers of his administration.

Davis-Bacon ensures that local construction workers and their families are paid a decent wage and are able to obtain health care coverage.

Hurricane Katrina exposed the gaping hole of economic inequality in the Gulf Coast region. It is outrageous that President Bush would eliminate the standard for ensuring quality work on the nation's infrastructure and decent living standards for taxpayer-financed reconstruction.

It will be too easy for employers to exploit workers in an area that has been economically devastated. This is no time for the federal government to make it even easier.

Skilled workers across the country have struggled for generations to win good wage-and-benefit standards for themselves and their families.

What a double tragedy it would be to allow the destruction of Hurricane Katrina to once again depress the living standards of the people in the Gulf Coast region.

Fred Mason

Annapolis

The writer is president of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO.

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