A contrast

The communist government of Poland imposed martial law on the people of Poland on Dec. 13 last.

On the following day miners in several coal mines in Silesia went on strike. Security forces were sent in to break the strike. There was fighting in some mines. Not until Dec. 30 did the government claim that resistance had been suppressed and that all mines were back in operation. There were casualties both among government security forces and among strikers. Several were killed, among them were six security force men.

On Jan. 30 there were strikes and rioting in the seaport of Gdansk, probably because the government had announced stiff rises in food prices - up by from 200 to 400 percent. Again there were casualties. The official report said six civilians (presumably strikers) and eight members of the security forces were injured. No one was reported killed.

There was a third outbreak of violence. On May Day enormous numbers of people demonstrated against the government all over Poland. The police and other armed forces intervened on May 3. Street fighting broke out in 10 major Polish cities and a number of lesser communities. Police arrested 1,372 persons. Of these 400 were given money fines and 118 were given jail sentences ranging from one to three months. There were no reports of serious injuries either to demonstrators or police.

A large number of leaders and activists in the Solidarity trade union movement were arrested in the early phase of martial law. Official Polish government figures issued on March 10 showed 3,601 persons still in ''isolation centers'' while 3,204 had been released. The condition of detainees has been checked by delegates from the International Red Cross. There have been numerous complaints from among the detainees, but Red Cross delegates have not reported serious brutality. There is no record of reprisals against families.

Members of the families of detainees and prisoners have been permitted to visit. Priests have had access to the centers and prisons. Estimates of the total number killed during the suppression of Solidarity and other instruments of political action vary. The Polish government originally said 17, but later dropped the figures to ''less than 12.'' The Soviets at one time claimed that 43 members of the Polish security forces had been killed. The Polish government has not confirmed that report.

The US government has reacted strongly to the events in Poland. It first applied economic sanctions to Poland, then to the Soviet Union. During recent days it has forbidden the sale or delivery by US companies or their overseas subsidiaries of licenses or equipment for building a pipeline from Siberia to Western Europe and for a joint Japanese-Soviet oil-drilling operation off the coast of Sakhalin. This has put a severe strain on the alliance. No other member of the alliance approves of such action. It will probably be defied by the others.

On June 4 the armed forces of Israel attacked southern Lebanon by land, sea, and air. The excuse was the shooting of an Israeli diplomat in London, even though British police also found the name of PLO members on the attacker's ''hit list.''

No one knows the exact number of casualties in Lebanon. International representatives have not been permitted by Israel to inspect the damaged areas or question survivors. Lebanese and Palestinian sources say thousands have been killed or wounded.

News film from both Israeli and Palestinian sides of the fighting show that the major cities and towns from the Israeli border north to Beirut, the capital, have been damaged severely. A fair guess is that in such cities as Tyre and Sidon roughly half the business and residential structures have been ruined. Certainly hundreds and possibly thousands of innocent civilian bystanders have been killed. This is one of the worst human tragedies since the Khmer Rouge rampaged through Cambodia.

The government of the US has asked Israel to refrain from renewing the attack on Beirut. But it has vetoed a UN resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. It has offered little or no protest against the damage done to the people and fabric of life in Lebanon. It has not suspended the supply of American weapons to Israel.

Beginning last Nov. 1 Israel initiated a policy of denial of political expression for the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza. Several of their elected mayors were dismissed. Arab leaders were imprisoned. Houses were bulldozed. In the rioting which this provoked many Arabs were wounded, a number were killed, including children.

The US has done little to protest the denial of human and political rights to Arabs by Israel or the killing of Arabs by Israelis. There are no US sanctions against Israel.

It is wrong for Poland to deny human and political rights to its own people, killing in the process 17 (or ''fewer than 12'') persons. Is it any less wrong for Israel to deny human and political rights to Arabs, killing in the process hundreds and possibly thousands?

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