Letters to the Editor. Fundamentalism and the Middle East

In response to the recent review of Robin Wright's book ``Sacred Rage,'' Western intrusion into the Islamic world began, not with Napoleon in 1798, but with Godfrey of Bouillon 700 years earlier, in 1096, with the First Crusade [``March of the Great Islamic Crusade,'' Oct. 25]. Also, if present population trends continue, there will be more than 3 billion Muslims on this planet by the year 2000. Fundamentalism is by no means unique to Islam, but is rampant in Judaism and Christianity. In fact, the next US election campaign may produce the first major-party fundamentalist presidential candidate since William Jennings Bryan 80 years ago.

Instead of doing what the reviewer advocates -- adopt a low profile in the Middle East and ``get out of the way'' -- why shouldn't the West go back to the much-maligned approach of President Carter? He had the foresight to strive for a clarification of the common denominator of a Judeo-Christian-Islamic heritage, which if practiced could bring genuine, spiritually grounded peace to the Middle East. Harvey Weeks Long Beach, Calif.

A ``News in Brief'' item reported that Jordan has arrested 250 to 300 anti-Syrian Muslim fundamentalists in an effort to boost ties with Damascus [``Jordan orders jailing of anti-Syrian fundamentalists,'' Nov. 18]. This allegation, made by a Beirut newspaper, is false and without basis. No arrests of this kind have been or are being made in Jordan. We regret that your headline was written in a manner that conveys an erroneous report as a statement of fact. Akram Z. Barakat Embassy of Jordan Minister, Press and Information Washington

To millions of Americans who sympathize with the Palestinian case and cause, Robert Bowie's frankness and understanding are a real treat [``Facing the Palestinian reality,'' Oct. 25]. Yasser Arafat has represented, embodied, and symbolized the plight, frustration, hopelessness yet hope, of a people uprooted from their homeland and still living in refugee camps. Bowie is absolutely correct, along with the most credentialed of worldwide Jewish leaders whom he cites, when he says that the PLO must be included, consulted, and fairly dealt with in any meaningful settlement, especially UN resolutions on the books. Shirley Selby Laguna Beach, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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