Israel not to blame for Mideast volatility

Clay Bennett's Aug. 3 editorial cartoon crosses the line of good taste, good sense, and simple manners.The menorah, labeled "Israel," has a stick of dynamite, labeled extremist, clearly blaming Israel for the Mideast's volatile politics.

That view is certainly his right, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) claims ethnic cleansing has occurred in Jerusalem. Has the number of Arabs been reduced since Israeli occupation in absolute numbers? No. It has increased.

Yet the PA, presumably the moderates in Mr. Bennett's worldview, continue to claim the most absurd crimes.

Jerusalem, a holy city to three faiths, has been open to all three faiths during the Israeli rule. While most Western nations (and Israel) celebrate religious tolerance, the rhetoric and law of far too many Arab states has been religious oppression and persecution of religious minorities. That concerns many people - and religious hatred beginswithinsulting the faiths of other people.

The Christian Science Monitor provides a rare beacon of understanding, tolerance, and spiritual insight on so many complex issues. Your editorial a few years ago on the crime bill illuminatedthe roots of the crime epidemic as the worship of material goods and a loss of spiritual values. So while I don't agree with many editorials and articles on the Mideast conflict, I delight in reading an articulate and detailed argument from other perspectives. I don't care to see my faith, however, mocked in a cartoon.

Eric H. Roth Venice, Calif.

US should keep distance in Kashmir

The silencing of guns in the Kashmir Valley this week is surely a welcome respite to those who share in the region's suffering, both indigenous Kashmiris and Indian security forces on patrol ("A cooling off in long over-heated Kashmir," Aug. 1). In the rush to take credit for this tentative cease-fire, the Clinton administration should be commended for its silent firmness in pushing for a de-escalation while respecting Indian wishes not to engage in a high-profile mediation effort. With US political backing, the Indian government has released the leadership of Kashmir's local political parties, the All Parties Hurrieyet Conference, from Indian jails, thus helping to create a dialogue in which talks can begin. The US should continue to silently support this opening and resist the urge to try to turn this delicate process into Camp David.

Mervyn Dymally Washington

Who really knows Cheney?

The facts that Godfrey Sperling is an architect of the Monitor political breakfasts and Dick Cheney has appeared at them 21 times help explain Mr. Sperling's egregious promo ("The Cheney I know," Aug. 1) for Bush's running mate. Sperling's point is that Mr. Cheney is so "likable" and "civil" even Democrats are hard-pressed to find negatives about him. Sperling must have missed Jesse Jackson on Cheney: a "wolf in sheep's clothing" whose "veneer" hides his "extremism." Sperling has the right to adore Cheney, but to claim everyone else shares such adoration is a bit much.

Philip Dacey Lynd, Minn.

A tip for milking cows

I read with interest John Gould's Aug. 4 column "Milking Coolidge's cow in a way that's politically correct," as I attended a high school on a farm in Vermont for three years, and spent a semester working each day in the dairy barn and milking parlor. I must contest that a cow must be milked from the right side. In truth, it matters only that a cow be milked from the same side each time she is milked, whether it be her left or right side.

Sam Jaffee Princeton, N.J.

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