Letters to the Editor

Readers write about whether Israel should release its Palestinian prisoners, thoughts on the passing of columnist Mel Maddocks, and the political tumult in Canada.

Israel should release Palestinian prisoners

Regarding the Dec. 15 Opinion piece, "Israel's plan to free Palestinian prisoners is foolish – and illegal": Author Louis Rene Beres's argument, while sound on the surface, is predicated on two myopic assumptions about the situation.

First, he asserts that "No government has the legal right to free terrorists as a goodwill gesture." His condemnation is based on the grounds that Israel, and every other state, has a responsibility to punish terrorists. However, his quote from the Nuremberg Principles reveals his mistake – these principles are a product of a war crimes tribunal. There has been no such tribunal for the Palestinians, who Professor Beres asserts are terrorists. To call them terrorists without proof, and continue to hold them captive, is an injustice.

Second, Israel has yet to conform to international law in many other ways. The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is not justified by international law. The presence of Israeli settlers on the West Bank is, itself, a war crime. I do not doubt that many of the alleged terrorists being released were detained on Palestinian land by agents of a foreign government. The fact that Beres does not acknowledge this precursor to the "crime" being committed in releasing these people calls into question his commitment to the law and justice in this commentary.

Brian Cribbin
Albuquerque, N.M.

Thoughts on columnist Mel Maddocks

In regard to the Nov. 28 commentary, "Melvin Maddocks: an appreciation": Thank you for this essay by Rod Nordell on the passing of Mel Maddocks.

As a newly minted college grad from the University of California, Berkeley, I had the extreme pleasure of working with Mel in the late 1950s. Mel was a wonderful mentor for me. He always seemed delighted to peruse my latest journalistic efforts. He took a great interest in budding journalists and always offered us encouragement and hope. With a twinkle in his eye, he would make some dry comment that would send us away chuckling.

Mr. Nordell said it well: His melody lingers on.

Ann Bradshaw Jenkins
Freedom, Calif.

Canada doesn't need to be like USA

Regarding the Dec. 11 Opinion piece, "A political ruckus ... in Canada?!": Author Rondi Adamson drags out the Canadian right's familiar litany of tiresome hoo-ha: a single-payer medical system is bad because it's "socialist" (never mind that, for the most part, it works), intellectuals as leaders are bad because they're "wonks" who can't even put their shoes on in the morning without consulting a committee, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is run by a pack of Communists and former Vietnam draft dodgers, etc. And all of this lame dross is put to no better use than padding a fluffy piece of stale polemic about the proroguing of the Canadian Parliament by the governor general, a task much better accomplished in two short paragraphs or less.

I encourage Ms. Adamson to move to Italy soon, as she claims she is now encouraging her conservative American friends to do. Perhaps while she's learning the language and enjoying the art, food, and weather, the rest of us won't have to endure her whining about her homeland and mine.

Contrary to Adamson's unsupported assertion, Canada grew up a long time ago, at about the same time that it realized it didn't have to march in lockstep with the free-market radicals in its neighbor to the south.

Neil R. Hughes
Athens, Ga.

The Monitor welcomes your letters andopinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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