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LETTERS

November 26, 2008

Ignoring context of Israeli attacks

The Baltimore Sun's "24 hours in pictures" feature on Nov. 17 included a large, Associated Press photograph with the caption: "PATROL: Israeli soldiers stand by their tank outside the Gaza Strip, near where four Palestinians were killed in an airstrike."

That's all the paper published: a picture silhouetting three soldiers, two in what might be considered aggressive postures, and the outline of a tank "near where four Palestinians were killed in an airstrike."

But that was not all there was to the story.

The Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that the four Arabs killed were terrorists "from a small Hamas-allied group known as the Popular Resistance Committees. A spokesman for the group ... said the four were firing mortars into Israel when they were killed."

And there was more. Ha'aretz said that in the past two weeks, Palestinian terrorists "have sent more than 170 rockets and mortars flying into Israel," according to the Israeli military's count. This during a "truce."

Meanwhile, Israeli troops have killed 15 terrorists, and two more died in uncertain circumstances. No Arab civilians have been killed.

Remarkably, The Baltimore Sun apparently saw no need to inform its readers about any of this background to the picture.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but one wonders which words - especially when the picture is accompanied by an incomplete, misleading caption.

M. Louis Offen, Rockville

Depression dwarfs our current woes

Recently Mayor Sheila Dixon characterized the current economic crisis as "worse than the Great Depression" ("Mayor orders cuts," Nov. 15). This is simply not accurate.

During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate reached more than 25 percent. Unemployment today is around 6.5 percent, and most economists think that the rate will peak during this downturn at 8 percent to 9 percent.

During the Depression, banks failed by the hundreds and depositors lost all their money. Today only a handful of banks have failed and no depositor has lost any money.

During the Depression, there was no Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance or, until 1935, Social Security. Today we have these programs and many more.

Gloom-and-doom forecasts are not helpful and only lead to unnecessary fear and panic.

Reality is scary enough.

Marc Raim, Baltimore

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