Mideast needs fair coverage and moral clarity

In your recent article ("Palestinian enemies within," Aug. 10), I fear we have another example of editorialized news and misrepresentation of facts. Clearly, the problem of collaborators is a serious one for the Palestinians, and I find no fault in reporting this. It's the asides that insinuate attitudes and falsify the report - such as the description of a "lopsided contest" between Palestine and Israel - which trouble me. You turn a humanitarian gesture on the part of Israel - providing the Palestinian Authority with water and electricity - into an accusation. Arab bombers show no such humane concern when they kill innocent Israelis.

Avraham Hanadari Hod Hasharon, Israel

I was moved by your coverage of deadly attacks ("In Mideast, both sides braced and defiant," Aug. 10), but I cannot conclude that rational minds are involved in the conflict. As a descendant of Jews who survived the Holocaust, I am ashamed of the leaders of the Jewish state, and I am equally disgusted by the Palestinian terrorist organizations. I can only hope that the United Nations has the moral strength to have peacekeepers separate the two. Perhaps then we can avoid seeing an elected leader of Israel be convicted of crimes against humanity.

Peter Dolina Carrboro, N.C.

Taking offense at missile defense

In the Aug. 9 News in Brief, your lead describes President Bush's talks with Russia regarding US missile-defense plans. I wish Bush would talk with us, the American people, first. Most of us think missile defense is foolish, dangerous, fraudulent, unnecessary, and egregiously expensive. We do not want a national missile-defense plan.

Lynn Olson Deming, N.M.

Clean language to help clean the world

Regarding Jeffrey Shaffer's column on profanity ("The Soiling of the American Mouth," Aug. 10, opinion page), I would just like to say amen! I have also noticed the slide into verbal slime that has taken place lately. What's equally disconcerting is the prevalence of profanity in the business world.

I believe that the inability to expressoneself without swearing doesindicate a "socially inept loser," as Mr. Shaffer puts it.Cursing has a place,but when it replaces punctuation in our speech, it loses its purpose.Free speech is one thing, but it must be balanced with the responsibility to set a good example. One of our biggest problems is that we have forgotten the concept of civic and social duty.

One step in fixing the problem is to be more cognizant of the example you set. Another is to stop accepting profanity. You might not be able to change the world, but you canworktobetteryour corner of it.

Chuck Holton Germantown, Md.

'Ophelia' should address teen sex

In your story on challenges facing mothers and their teenage daughters ("Moms help girls navigate adolescence," Aug. 15), you mention Nina Shandler's book "Ophelia's Mom." Ms. Shandler's strategy of compassionate communication, while helpful, falls way short of curing the largest problem haunting teenage girls: sex. Mothers must do more than simply discuss the idea: They must destroy any and every trace of its presence in young nubile minds.

In all things human, there is a natural progression; the same applies to intercourse. A teenage girl is not equipped in mind, body, or emotion to handle the stress of sex. I agree with Shandler and support her book, but when it comes to ruinous teen sex, a much stricter position must be enforced.

Matthew Danzig Chappaqua, N.Y.

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