Letters

Bush is right to let Israel chart its own course

Regarding your April 16 article "Beyond Israel: ripple effect of Bush's stand": Showing his concern for the Jewish state, President Bush is letting Israel chart its own course. He is doing so by supporting the Israeli plan to offer land in the Gaza Strip for peace, leaving the details of a comprehensive settlement to the future, rejecting the so-called "right of return" of Arabs, and yes, even accepting the continuance of certain Israeli outposts in the captured territories until a true peace is established.

Mr. Bush shows a keen recognition that progress on negotiations with so-called Arab partners awaits the production of parties who are ready, willing, and able to deal - to deal not only with Israel, but more important, with the Palestinian Authority, an entity I consider to be terrorist.

We should stand by this president and defend him against the chattering class of appeasers who wish his obliteration in the name of cultural correctness and political propriety.
Stephen Mayo
Bronx, N.Y.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

President Bush speaks of "realities on the ground" making it "unrealistic" to expect Israel to withdraw from settlements on West Bank lands seized in 1967. David Sharabi, a settlement resident, says, "You simply cannot uproot tens of thousands of Israelis."

Does neither remember that Israelis had no qualms about "uprooting" hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948, and thousands more in 1967? I recall an Israeli acquaintance telling me of those years, "It was a war, and we won, a perfectly acceptable means of acquiring territory." Is that what we Americans believe and endorse?
Bernice L. Youtz
Tacoma, Wash.

Reminder of a tough US breakthrough

Thanks to Harry Johnson for his wonderful April 15 Opinion piece "It's April 15: Think Jackie Robinson, not taxes."

How can our nation celebrate its progress in matters racial without remembering the breakthroughs that made possible today's celebrations?

Mr. Johnson's article is particularly appropriate for these moments of war, conflict, and efforts to share democracy in Iraq and other places. At times, our foreign policy and the rhetoric of some of our leaders gives the impression that we have been a perfect democracy from the moment our nation began.

Our leaders sometimes speak about assaults against civilization as though we in the West are the solitary manifestations of civilization in the world. The history that Johnson shares ought to be an integral component of any of our efforts to share our political philosophy with the world.
Gilbert H. Caldwell
Denver

'Small' stories fill culture gap

Your April 7 article "Tradition vs. restaurants in old Damascus" represents a sorely needed reminder that life - meaningful, newsworthy life - goes beyond the scope of contemporary journalistic fixations that would easily leave us incredulous of the fact that, at this particular moment, the grievances of Damascus residents involve the noisy new neighbors in its restaurant district.

It can't hurt to revisit the small stories we have in common, like the desire to tend to one's home and garden. Not that the headlines are unimportant. In fact, the opposite is true. A war will overshadow all gardens at once.

I hope that stories like this one will help preserve our understanding of what is at stake should we neglect the "small," familiar, and enduring stories we understand for the big ones that we really do not.
Eldad Elnekave
Bethesda, Md.

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