The US presidency is a big deal

Regarding your Aug. 11 article "To many, president is no big deal": The idea that who becomes president is no big deal because "no major international crises loom" ignores the many serious world and domestic crises that do loom over this election. World population is now 6 billion and surging upward. Many people are inadequately fed, housed, and educated - and live without hope of a better life. Clean air, safe water, open space, farmland, and wildlife habitat are decreasing daily due to human population growth.

The president of the United States can ignore these problems and pretend that we are living in a golden age with nothing to worry about. Or he can face up to dealing with them, making the hard choices necessary to leave to future generations a country and a world that are at least as good as the ones we inherited.

Thomas P. McKenna Montpelier, Vt.

Israel and the US role in the Mideast

The Aug. 9 opinion piece by Henry Precht ("Doing the lock step on Israel") resorts to the tactic of blaming the Jewish community for many Middle Eastern problems. It willfully ignores many aspects of the Middle East situation in order to claim that Jews control Washington and the American media. In fact, media coverage is more balanced than Mr. Precht is willing to admit.

Moreover, he underestimates the importance of US involvement in the ongoing peace process to American interests, instead claiming that the US government's role in the peace negotiations is solely due to the strength of the "Israel lobby." What the article calls a bias in the media is merely a recognition that Israel is America's best friend in the region, is the lone true democracy, and has longed for peace for decades.

It is a shame that at a time when Israel is making far-reaching concessions for peace, and when Palestinians and Syrians are once again missing opportunities to make the lives of their people ones of hope and progress, all Henry Precht can contribute is the old canard of Jewish control.

Abraham H. Foxman New York

National Director, Anti-Defamation League

Anyone wondering why State Department Arabists have gained such a bad reputation need only read retired Foreign Service officer Henry Precht's Aug. 9 opinion piece. Talk about "going native"! He sounds more Arab than the Arabs. Only a mentality such as his could perceive Washington and "lock step" media having "heavy bias in support of Israel." As for Israel "learn[ing] to live with its neighbors," he has that reversed. It is the neighbors who have waged continuous economic, propaganda, and periodic actual war against her, and who have yet to come to terms with her existence. That's a reality that can't be erased by his tendentious appeal to history and citizens.

Richard D. Wilkins Syracuse, N.Y.

Henry Precht's Aug. 9 opinion piece presents honest truths. Congratulations for daring to defy a sort of self-imposed censorship that has developed in US news media. There seems to be an all-pervasive fear that, if Israel or Zionism are referred to, then your comments had better be extolling; otherwise, you will be labeled as antisemitic.

Irwin S. Booth Renton, Wash.

Henry Precht's opinion piece is a light in the wilderness.Will our politicians and the American public heed his cry?Not until the US becomes a silent observer in the Middle East andceases its financial support, will the distrust between the parties be dissolved.We are creating and perpetuating the problem instead of ameliorating it.

Jack Cullers Luray, Va.

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