Readers write

Palestinian refugees must return

Thank you for Helena Cobban's opinion piece " 'New Broom' should sweep out Mideast policy" (Nov. 9). It is rare and refreshing to see opinions that openly criticize Israeli policies and blind US financial and moral support for them.

Furthermore, it is also rare for journalists to acknowledge the illegality of [Jewish] settlements and other mechanisms of military occupation based on various elements of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is also brilliant to compare Israel with South Africa, a comparison that is not made often enough.

While the US should indeed focus on a solution that achieves a just and lasting peace based on international law, it should also be noted that there are currently over 5 million Palestinian refugees worldwide, over 3.4 million of whom are registered with the United Nations. Based on various provisions of international law, from the 13th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to binding United Nations Resolution 194, they have a right to return to their homes and to compensation. Since many of these refugees have been living in 59 refugee camps akin to shanty towns for the past 52 years, to fully implement justice and jurisprudence, the US has an obligation to also uphold these refugees' fundamental right to return.

Rabee' Sahyoun Annandale, Va.

Affirmative action, not quotas

The support of Fortune 500 companies for affirmative action ("Affirmative action's unlikely ally," Oct. 25) should hardly come as a surprise. Until partisan politics polarized the issue, affirmative action had far-reaching and widespread support.

Those who have worked on this issue can verify the longstanding interest in and development of affirmative action programs in the American sector. So, the support of the economic and social value of diversity by General Motors and other Fortune 500 corporations should come as no surprise.

However, it is important to remember that affirmative action is not about quotas - quotas are illegal, and affirmative action is not racial preferences - affirmative action programs provide a fair chance for all Americans.

Georgian Verdugo Washington Americans for a Fair Chance

Prairie dogs aren't pests

Thank you for your thoughtful article on the struggle to save bison and prairie dogs ("Often overlooked, troubled prairie sees signs of renewal," Nov. 1). Your article highlights the refusal by most ranchers to understand that prairie dogs and other prairie wildlife are in a crisis. To win favor with ranchers, Great Plains politicians grandstand against native wildlife and consequently perpetuate policies that scapegoat prairie dogs, bison, coyotes, and any other "pest" du jour.

Rancher clout is visible in the Western congressional delegation's general disdain for wildland and wildlife conservation. Agriculture agencies and public officials spare no taxpayer expense to accommodate rancher intolerance for any perceived pest or predator.

The chapter has not yet been closed on the Great Plains. Many citizens in the region repeatedly demonstrate our deep respect for wildlife through political forums.

Prairie-dog-protection ordinances are starting to bubble up through the municipal and county levels, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been forced to take a hard look at the prairie dog's plight. But there is a lot of work yet to do.

Nicole J. Rosmarino Pritchett, Colo. Rocky Mountain Animal Defense

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