Condemning Violence, Pledging Peace The opinion-page article ''Theology's Place in Mideast Peace,'' Aug. 22, hauls out what is becoming a classic canard, the notion that Islam must be somehow implicated in terrorist acts undertaken in its name, since ''no Islamic leader of stature has come out clearly and unequivocally for amelioration.'' That statement does not carry credibility. Maher Hathout, senior advisor of Muslim Public Affairs Council's Counterterrorism Chronicle, recently wrote: ''Bombing a bus of civilians, even in Tel Aviv, should be condemned. Bombing Lebanese villages ... should be condemned. Killing priests in Algeria is a heinous crime ... and bombing the World Trade Center is an act of terrorism.'' Mr. Hathout writes in the Counterterrorism Chronicle, ''We Muslims will pledge to God, and we promise this country, that we will stand for that. We'll condemn and fight and abhor terrorism in the broadest sense of the definition, with no double standard, regardless of who is the victim and who is the perpetrator ... it does not make a difference.'' Also, the Organization of Islamic Conference, at its triannual summit, passed a code of conduct requiring member states ''not to host, train, arm, finance, or provide facilities'' to violent groups. That seems clear enough to me. Rabia Terri Harris Nyack, N.Y. Coordinator, Muslim Peace Fellowship After reading this article one comes away with the impression that Islam is the single most important factor motivating terrorism in the Middle East in general, and Israel/Palestine in particular. This is inaccurate and misleading. While it is true that Islam is used as a rallying point for many groups in the Middle East, some of whom violently oppose the Israel-PLO peace process, the same can be said for Judaism as well. Recent halachic (religious) rulings by influential rabbis in Israel and New York, run counter to state orders to remove settlers from occupied land in the West Bank. Jewish extremists have not been blowing up buses in Arab East Jerusalem, but one, Baruch Goldstein, murdered 29 Palestinians attending prayers last April. This was by no means an isolated incident. Shawn L. Twing Alexandria, Va. News Editor Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Why I became a Republican In reading the opinion-page article ''Democrats Don't Need Tauzin,'' Aug. 11, I couldn't help but recall a famous Emily Dickinson poem: ''The Soul selects her own Society, Then shuts the Door. ''To her divine Majority - Present no more.'' While zealously attacking my motives for switching to the Republican Party, Victor Kamber, a liberal political consultant, openly crusaded for an ideological purge of the Democratic Party. I can only respond by saying: merci beaucoup! You have, quite convincingly, made my argument for me. For a long time now, I have been warning that the Democratic Party must become more tolerant and inclusive of divergent views or run the risk of driving out the last of its moderates and conservatives. The realignment that we are witnessing all across America is not about politics, it's about ideas. I believe that the Republican Party has become the party of change and reform, of personal liberties and responsibilities, of property rights and common sense, and of balancing the budget and free-market opportunities. Government should be our servant again, not our master. As we say in south Louisiana, Mr. Kamber, ''au revoir.'' Billy Tauzin Washington Member of Congress Who's better, who's best? I was puzzled by the criticisms in the letter ''Jerry Garcia Deserves More Respect,'' Aug. 15. True, Mr. Garcia's band produced a ''diverse'' repertoire of music. But were these recordings ''truly great?'' ''Terrapin Station,'' the Dead's only attempt at producing a concept album, pales when compared with ''truly great'' innovative recordings by the likes of Jethro Tull, the Moody Blues, the Who, and Pink Floyd. Craig Miller St. Francis, Wis.

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