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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about airport detentions, bridging the racial divide in the US, the strength of democracies, and engaging Hamas.

July 23, 2007



Airport detentions resemble tactics from cold-war days

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The July 11 article, "Visit gone awry: Detention roils a US-German family," is troubling. What happens to people like Majed Shehadeh? What would have happened if he had had a medical emergency because his heart medication was kept from him for 36 hours?

Why would the US hold people overnight in a crowded cell with no mattresses and one toilet in the center of the cell? Why couldn't his wife see him?

The Department of Homeland Security has to be concerned about allowing a criminal or terrorist to enter the US. But what happens if the DHS later determines a person is not a terrorist or a criminal?

This kind of detention and removal seems like the treatment seen under communist countries or third-world dictatorships. Reading this article does not make me feel more secure at all.

Nancy Shivers
San Antonio

Bridging the racial divide

In response to the July 13 Opinion article, "Feeling way too white," I think the misunderstandings between Caucasians and African-Americans within the United States are largely due to ignorance on the part of both racial groups. We stereotype one another to such a degree that we are afraid to approach a different group for fear of altercation or unintentional insult.

African-Americans and Caucasian Americans may be surprised at how similar they are and the feelings they may share on religious and political issues within our country.

After spending 21 years serving in our country's armed forces and being exposed to individuals from all social, economic, and religious walks of life, the simple fact is that I found that if you take the time to get to know one another, you will find more similarities than not. These barriers that we think exist are merely a stereotype created within our own mind.

We all love our families, we all value education and a safe living environment, and we all care about the future of this nation. We may express it differently or some may relate their feelings more eloquently than others, but basically people just want an opportunity to live their lives to the fullest potential as the next guy without fear of prejudice or racism from any group impeding their goals or objectives.

Orlando Bryant
Laurel, Md.

Fear of terrorism must not prevail

Upon reading the July 12 Opinion article, "At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life" by Andrew Roberts, I get confused. An occupier who speaks English is an occupier all the same, and even with the best of intentions the occupier will create internal fracturing within the country.

What we in the democratic world need to do is to start practicing what we preach. Life in Saudi Arabia is even less free than in Iran, but the regime evades criticism, even gets our support. China is criticized for not trading fairly with the US, but Cuba is barred from trading altogether. As long as US-British foreign policy is no more than a dictatorship popularity contest, terrorism will never be eradicated. We have seen more than a century of swapping West-unfriendly dictators, puppets, and military occupations for West-friendly dictators, puppets, and occupations.

The cold war threatened to physically end the world, while the terrorists of today are not even close to surpassing traffic as a health risk. There is a very real threat to our way of life, and it comes from our fear of terrorism and the means we are willing to employ in order to rid ourselves of that fear.

Gunnar Hansen
Malmö, Sweden

Hamas needs to recognize Israel

The view expressed in the July 17 Opinion article, "Yes, you can work with Hamas," that the US should engage Hamas as a way to move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward, is a recipe for disaster.

While it is indeed true that many people previously engaged in armed struggles have eventually had a seat at the table of nations, these individuals and groups renounced their terrorism and violence and accepted international norms of behavior to gain this legitimacy.

Unfortunately, Hamas has not met the three basic conditions laid out by the international community – to recognize Israel's right to exist, to renounce the use of terrorism, and to recognize previously negotiated Israeli-Palestinian agreements. The requirement by the international community that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist is not mere polemics but a way to ensure that Hamas will abandon its goal of seeking the state of Israel's destruction through violent means.

Until Hamas meets these conditions, it is simply impossible to include them at the negotiating table, and doing so would indeed invite disaster.

Abraham Foxman
New York

National Director, Anti-Defamation League

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