Israel loses in arms sale to China

Regarding your article "Israel's deal with China irks US" (April 17): Out of both morality and its self-interest, Israel should not proceed with its sale of AWACS early warning planes to China. The costs far outweigh the benefits.

Israel and Taiwan share many similarities: They are both small but diplomatically isolated wealthy democracies that depend on the US. Over the past half century, their proud and well-educated citizens have worked extremely hard to fend off strong enemies that want to subjugate them.

Israel cannot morally ignore the certainty that the AWACS sale will empower the authoritarian and jingoistic China to overrun a fellow democracy. Regarding calculated interest, the sale may come back to haunt Israel and the US.

China has been a documented proliferator of missiles and nuclear technology to states such as Iran, Iraq, and Libya that pose security threats to Israel.

This move antagonizes the US - Israel's most crucial supporter, which provides $3 billion aid annually and is called upon to provide another $17 billion aid for Israel's peace agreement with Syria.

Carrying out the contract may prove Israel to be a reliable arms supplier. But the profits from the $250 million sale can never offset the fallout from decreased US support, increased threat to Israel's own security, and Israel's tattered reputation as a democracy.

Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, Richmond, Va.

Racism prompts needed discussion

Regarding your April 17 article "A stonemason's stand against racism in Berlin" [describing how vandals are toppling gravestones in Europe's largest Jewish graveyard]: The real measure of a society's character is not whether they suffer racist vandalism, but how they respond.

If the actions of this German stonemason increase discussion and awareness of hatred and its pernicious effects, then the gravestone vandals will have inadvertently done everyone a favor.

Christian David Antalics, Wayne, Pa.

World's view of Elian

Your April 17 article "The world weighs in on Elian" contained a crucial omission. "The world" also includes citizens of the United States, who overwhelmingly support the return of Elian to his father. The tone of this article seems to imply otherwise. In my opinion, it is the role of journalism to inform and educate. Unfortunately, this article seems only to peg the US against the rest of the world on yet another topic when, in fact, it could have easily demonstrated cultural similarities versus variant legal and political systems.

Audrey Meyer Lampert, North Granby, Conn.

Getting Americans to vote

I have been aware for many years of the pathetic percentage of eligible voters in the United States who take themselves to the polls to vote. I believe that no recent president was actually elected by a majority of those adults eligible to vote.

It is easy to realize why many don't vote. They have ceased to believe that life will be any different, regardless of who "wins."

What matters is that the people of the US awaken and take the elections away from the power of money. No one can imagine the outcome if we got an 80 to 85 percent turnout at the polls.

Stimulating the national population to vote requires more than stories about the candidates, which the Monitor and others have been providing. It also needs an upfront profession of the goal to get citizens to vote, plus stories and advertisements, a sort of campaign in itself about how and why everyone should get active in a national effort.

Grace Braley, Yonkers, NY

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