January 25, 2009

Push Israel to accept Arab peace initiative

The article "Hamas acts to reassert control in Gaza" (Jan. 20) buried critically important information in the text that should have been in the headline: It reported that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had warned Israel that a peace offer from 22 Arab countries that recognizes Israel's right to exist within its 1967 borders "will not always remain on the table."

The initiative promises normalized diplomatic and economic relations with Israel in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza along the borders that existed before 1967. Accordingly, Israel would finally be recognized as a permanent country, secure in her borders and safe from rocket attacks.

The fact that Israel would not jump at this offer and even sabotage it by massacring Gazans is a very ominous sign.

Our new administration would do well to use economic pressure on Israel to accept this offer before it is rescinded.

Richard J. Ochs, Baltimore

Israel still struggles against cruel enemies

The letter writer who bemoans America's support of Israel takes the bizarre position that we should abandon a democratic ally that fights in self-defense against a jihadist enemy that seeks its annihilation ("It's past time to stop arming, aiding, Israel," Jan. 14).

The letter writer then libels Israel by suggesting that Israel "has reacted by slaughtering hundreds of innocents." She apparently mistakes Israel for Hamas. It is Hamas that, from cradle to grave, indoctrinates children to hate Jews and, when they explode themselves among Israeli women and children in restaurants and buses, glories them as martyrs in the Hamas culture of death.

Further, her misplaced condemnation of Israel as a violator of international humanitarian law ignores the fact that it is Hamas that blatantly violates the laws of warfare by indiscriminately firing thousands of rockets and bombs into Israel and, when Israel finally decides to protect its citizens, uses its civilian population as shields against Israel's legitimate acts of self-defense.

Michael D. Carlis, Baltimore

Defense of nonfiction rises to the challenge

Thank you, David L. Ulin, for defending those of us who read books identified in the "not literature" category ("Reading on the rise?" Commentary, Jan. 21).

I read 55 books for pleasure (nearly 17,000 pages) and find it absurd that the National Endowment for the Arts survey would not deign to include as "literary readers" those of us who enjoy authors such as David McCullough, Jan Pottker and Jon Meacham.

Great works of fiction have their place, but so do compelling histories and biographies. And reading benefits society, regardless of the topic or genre.

Theresa G. Wiseman, Bel Air

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