Less Enthusiasm for Tobacco, Please

The Jan. 23 article "Tobacco Industry on Ropes? Not on These Kentucky Farms" is surprising for its conspicuous absence of any mention of tobacco's health effects. A reader might get the impression that tobacco is a nice cash crop of no known harm to anyone, hounded by critics for unspecified reasons.

Industry rhetoric is passed along uncritically. For instance, one grower gives the well-known tobacco industry ploy - we're against teen smoking, we're not for smoking at all, we just want adults to have a choice.

Is addiction about choice? And is it about adults? It is not mentioned that 90 percent of all adult smokers became addicted before they turned 18.

The tobacco industry public relations machine spends billions of dollars every year making smoking seem acceptable and glamorous. It will never mention the truth about its products - that they addict and kill millions of Americans. The industry prefers to talk about the poor tobacco farmer, whose product is being increasingly abandoned for foreign-grown tobacco anyway.

Jonathan Krueger

Alameda, Calif.

Fairness for Palestinians

In the extensive reporting of the Hebron agreement, one thing I have missed is what the Oslo Accord actually said and how the settlement may have differed.

The Israelis, with about 3/10ths of a percent of the population of the city, control 20 percent of the area, undoubtedly the most prosperous. Even in the area controlled by Israel, Israelis account for only 3 percent of the population. I can only view the settlement as lopsided and unfair. The French have long wanted to participate in the negotiations but were rebuffed by the US. The French, no doubt, would have insisted on "libert, galit, fraternit," resulting in a more equitable settlement.

In the Jan. 15 article, "Palestinian Soccer Team Lifts Pride With Leap Into Israel's Top League," the captain of Jerusalem's top soccer team makes a wicked remark to the captain of the Palestinian team, apparently with no penalty or reprimand from either league or government officials. This illustrates how hatred can grow if there are no restraints.

Considering the intransigence of the Israeli government until pressured by the US, the nature of the US-imposed short-term settlement, and our unwillingness to follow an even-handed policy regarding the root causes of the Israel-Palestine relationship, I can only foresee continuing conflict over Palestinian rights, freedoms, and water supply.

Kenneth Stapp

Chimney Rock, N.C.

New York and Jerusalem

The Monitor has historically served as a voice of balance on Middle Eastern concerns, correcting misconceptions often found in the news media. Thus I find it incongruous to read a statement in the Jan. 9 article, "Crusade in Jerusalem," which misrepresents reality and takes a scoffing tone. In comparing New York and Jerusalem, the writer shows how different Jerusalem is: "No one is trying to break off a piece of New York and make it the capital of another nation." Is the writer unaware that this "piece," referred to as "East Jerusalem," is occupied territory? Or that no nation - not even the US - has recognized Israel's annexation? Israel has tried, through occupation, to nullify Palestinian claims to their own land. The occupation of Arab Jerusalem is not recognized by international law.

Perhaps there are more similarities between New York and Jerusalem, in each mayor's approach to Palestinians. When President Arafat attended a function in New York last year, while meeting at the United Nations, Mayor Giuliani had him bodily removed from the concert hall. What Mr. Giuliani did to the world's most-recognized Palestinian, Mayor Olmert is trying to do to ordinary Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. Through harsher residency requirements that separate families, land confiscations, and other illegal methods, Mayor Olmert is creating facts on the ground by removing Jerusalem's Palestinian residents.

Annie C. Higgins


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