Why Arabs can't easily befriend Israelis

Helen Motro's Jan. 12 opinion piece "Israel the Invisible" complains that citizens in Jordan and Egypt are not welcoming and cordial to Israeli tourists.

While I agree with Ms. Motro that "peace in name is no peace," and that "hatred can only die by de-demonizing stereotypes," her call for "normalization" between Israel and its Arab neighbors and for a "two-way street" of "love and neighborliness," ignores the realities of injustice in her otherwise laudable plea for peace.

Motro's complaint reveals an enormous blind spot that most Americans and Israelis seem to have regarding Israel's relations with its neighbors; a blind spot that prevents us from seeing the Israeli arrogance of power and influence; a blind spot that allows us to accept Israel's continued illegal and egregious occupation of Arab Palestinian land 32 years after the 1967 armistice and UN Resolution 242 on the basis of "land for peace"; a blind spot that shields us from naming Israel's "ethnic cleansing" practices of Arab-Palestinian land confiscation and building illegal colonies called "settlements" on that land, of demolishing Arab-Palestinian homes and of humiliating and abusing Arab-Palestinian citizens by revoking residency permits, refusing family reunification, and of illegally detaining people without trial or charge.

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This blind spot seduces us to accept the torture of prisoners and general harassment of Arab-Palestinian citizens as "normal."

If my neighbor claimed possession of 75 to 80 percent of my ancestral land, destroyed my house, prevented me from crossing my property or harvesting my orchard all because he had the guns and influence with City Hall and claimed he was doing it all in the name of security, would it be strange if I refused to welcome him in when he came to visit with a slice of apple pie?

Peace is furthered by love and hospitality, but it cannot exist without justice.

Darrell W. Yeaney Iowa City, Iowa

Posting the Ten Commandments

Regarding "Politics of the Commandments" (Jan. 19): What if schools and court-houses posted, not just the Ten Commandments, but other quotes promoting ethical standards from different religions and non-religious sources as well? What does the Koran say about the same great moral issues? What did Gandhi say, or JFK, or Shakespeare, Confucius or Nelson Mandela?

Maybe if the "religious right" developed this idea, they would gain more respect.

Helen S. Ullmann Acton, Mass.

Those who advocate displaying the Ten Commandments in public buildings point to this as a remedy for our nation's declining morals. My question to them is, what declining morals? If anything morals are on the upswing, as evidenced by dropping crime rates, teenage pregnancy rates, and abortion rates. Posting the Ten Commandments in schools will only make students feel more alienated than they already are.

The proposal is an ill-thought-out remedy to a problem that does not exist.

Mike Smith Portland, Ore.

Aboriginal entertainment

Regarding your article "Aboriginal network tests idea of niche TV" (Jan. 21): I have begun watching a series of reruns about a community of native people in Canada called "North of 60."

My husband and I traveled in British Columbia about 15 years ago and became interested in the native arts presented there, but since that time we have not been able to talk to anyone who is knowledgeable in this area. Our neighbors to the north have great entertainment to share with us, and I hope to see more of it.

Leslie M. Fitzpatrik Tacoma, Wash.

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