Facts, not opinions, needed on Arafat and Israel

Regarding "Arafat fights for relevance" (Jan. 25): We must be weary of Yasser Arafat's public relations tactics. Mr. Arafat is a master at portraying himself as a peacemaker and as helpless in the face of his people.

We cannot ignore issues like Arafat's inability to adequately explain arms shipments from Iran. As Americans, we are very susceptible to identifying with the disadvantaged. It is crucial for us to realize that our sensitivities must have limitations. We must not be taken in by masks of innocence, for then, rather than sensitive, we become foolish.

U. Adler
New York

I believe neither the US nor Israel really wants peace. Peace is not big business. War is. Today bin Laden, tomorrow Arafat, yesterday Sadam Hussein. When does this madness stop? When does the quest for profit end and the quest for peace and the needs of people begin?

To hold Arafat responsible for every incident of violence is as accurate as saying all Americans are war-mongering, profit-seeking imperialists.

Frank Valdez
San Antonio

The continuing Israel- Palestinian conflict is not only being fought on the ground, but also in the media, where a mixture of facts and propaganda abound. What are we to believe? One side says one thing, the other side says another. Who's right, who's wrong?

Each side is calling the other "terrorists," laying the blame for killing and other acts of so-called and/or very real self-defense and self-preservation on the other. If we are ever to arrive at an understanding of Israeli/Palestinian relations, a different approach is needed. We should sit back and analyze the data historically and factually.

I wouldn't blame anyone for taking a pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian position based on the information presented in most of today's media. One sees no even-handedness. Until we get the real facts on the ground, we will not know how to set our own priorities with regard to the Middle East.

Randall Ruback

Searching for insights in war movies

Regarding " 'Black Hawk Down' offers action, not insights" (Jan. 18, Arts&Leisure): Having just seen the film, movie critic Dave Sterritt confirms my feeling that I should have passed on buying a ticket. There is nothing glamorous about war, and no one needs to see this type of depiction of demeaning humanity and ugliness.

It does tell the story of personal courage, duty, and sacrifice - and adds to the current concern and debate surrounding the new war on terrorism. But at best, this movie is a still photograph, a cameo of one event. It does not address the needed broader view of the sweeping changes going on in the world that led to the events of Sept. 11. A vigorous debate is needed on all of the issues surrounding these times: globalization, the tyranny of oppressive governments, polarized religion, and state-supported terrorism.

Jack B. Lindsey

"Black Hawk Down" demonstrates the courage, loyalty, and heroism of the US soldiers in Somalia. It evades mention of our need to overhaul the way peacekeeping is done worldwide. Having a standing peacekeeping force of volunteers from around the world would resolve many dilemmas. Traditional armed forces are trained primarily to fight and win wars. Peacekeeping troops have different goals, concerns, and methods. Heroic individuals who would be peacekeepers and who would risk their lives to save thousands of others should have a peacekeeping force to join.

Robert E. Griffin
Forty Fort, Pa.

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