TWA Flight 847

The thoughtful analysis of the Shiite abduction of Americans is appreciated. The statement that the Israelis feel they can't absorb the blow to their prestige that a release of the Shiites would entail [``Israel accuses US of `playing games' '' June 21], brought to mind a quotation from Erwin Canham, a former Monitor editor: The gentle art of saving face, may, some day, save the race. Philip Baumeister Loomis, Calif. Louis Cantori's ``Hostages: fanaticism or grievances'' (June 21) is one of the few attempts to place the Lebanese hostage crisis in its proper political context.

Misguided United States policy coupled with the indiscriminate use of force by Israel in southern Lebanon contributed to the conditions which produced the hijacking of TWA Flight 847. Richard L. Langill Carlinville, Ill.

John Hughes's reduction of foreign hostility toward the US to economic envy is a real classic, ``Great Satan?'' [July 5]. As long as we believe that the Shiites are really after American cars and money, we will continue to have, and merit, a sullied reputation in the world.

Some of the hostages came back with new understandings of this foreign land of the Middle East.

Americans have a longstanding reputation for a blythe naivet'e about cultures different from ours. We travel foreign lands far removed from the people, unable to speak their languages, unwilling to grant legitimacy to their ways of life. Even in the Soviet Union, an insular nation, the Monitor once reported that they have more teachers of English than we have students of Russian. Rev. Whitney S. Bodman Westborough, Mass.

I especially commend TWA Capt. John Testrake, who, I am sure, was as much disturbed as any of the passengers, but who kept his cool, and in a firm voice insisted that they must land and refuel. While the passengers only had to deal with their own fears, he had the responsibility for all aboard. He is truly a brave man.

However, I couldn't help being ashamed at the behavior of the reporters when the captors of TWA 847 allowed a news conference. The hostages were anxious to be seen so their families would know that they were OK. The yearning on their faces was heart-rending but that didn't stop the reporters and camera men. In their jockeying for place, they completely blocked off the hostages.

Why could they not have appointed one or two cameramen to take pictures and share them with the rest? It would have been a humane act. Marie C. Frank Chesterton, Ind.

Joseph C. Harsch said it so well in ``Terrorism -- past, present, and future'' (June 20). The TWA hijacking resulted from US support for Israel.

In this country the fighters of the American Revolution were honored patriots. To the British they were terrorists, though unsophisticated. Would Mr. Reagan call them ``uncivilized barbarians,'' as he characterized the Shiites? If the US does not wish to be a target, it must demonstrate impartiality in the Arab-Israeli struggle. Norman A. Walter Red House, W. Va.

Our thoughts must be centered on the prevention of future incidents. We fail to consider enough alternatives because we let hatred for the terrorists blind our vision. How much better it would be if our foreign policy included discussions with potential terrorists before their use of inexcusable tactics. This would, of course, necessitate our responding to the needs of such groups, when legitimate. Such a foreign policy would be worthwhile because the result would be the betterment of humankind. Gerald Jones Los Angeles

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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