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Building Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians

Regarding the opinion-page article "Demolishing More Than Just Palestinian Homes," April 5: I too have witnessed examples of such destruction. Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres assures us that more homes of suicide bombers will be demolished "as a deterrent to others."

Israel has demolished more than 1,000 Palestinian homes. If "deterrence" works, Israel should have been blissfully "secure" for many years. As the author indicates, destruction of family homes will result in more bitterness and hostility toward Israel. Israelis seeking security need to rethink ways of achieving it. Americans also need to give this more thought: Our tax dollars subsidize approximately 25 percent of Israel's national budget. Do we want to subsidize a policy of destroying family homes and an endless cycle of revenge? Isn't there a better way?

Bernice L. Youtz

Olympia, Wash.

Some observations on the death penalty

There are several excellent points in the front-page article "Congress Sets Stage For Swift Executions," April 8. As a former supporter of the death penalty, here are some additional observations.

First, many death-penalty supporters wrongly think, as I once did, that the enormous lags between the time prisoners are sentenced to death and when they are executed (if they ever are) are due to "frivolous appeals" that "clog" the court system. It is clear from the article that this sentiment provides much of the impetus for habeas corpus "reform."

If the reformers ever do achieve their goal of significantly shortening the time between sentencing and execution, it is not merely possible, but certain, that innocent people will be executed. Joseph G. Brown, for example, spent 13 years on death row in Florida for a crime he did not commit, before being freed in 1987. Florida alone has released at least six innocent death-row prisoners in the last 20 years. If habeas corpus rights are curtailed, the future Joseph Browns of this country will be put to death.

As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson once observed, "the very purpose of the Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials." It is to be hoped that Jackson's wisdom will prevail in the habeas corpus controversy.

Mark Wylie

Los Angeles

Computers at chess tournaments

Regarding the opinion-page article, "Deep Blue's 'Thinking' Was Fast, but Not Deep," April 8: The reason computers do not belong at most chess tournaments involves not fear but fairness. Players already use a variety of computer programs for play and study. Computers provide games that will play at various levels. Today tournaments utilize the Swiss or a round-robin format within each class. This provides each player with games from opponents at his or her approximate level. This closeness of strength provides challenging, winnable games. Tournaments require participants to utilize only their understanding - no written notes, open magazines, or books, or computer-aided analysis.

Peter Bradner

Oroville, Calif.

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