Reduce aid to Israel now

Regarding "US tests the limits of its leverage in Mideast" (April 10): I have always been a believer in Israel; my grandfather's family were Jews. Nevertheless, I am compelled to speak out that the time has come to end or greatly reduce the $3 billion the US sends to Israel yearly.

President Bush has recently stated that poverty and hopelessness are factors we must overcome to successfully combat terrorism. We must prioritize our aid on the basis of solving problems which help create terrorism, such as hunger, poverty, and ignorance. Israel, a rich country in a sea of impoverished nations, doesn't qualify on a need basis. Our aid must be fairly distributed to maintain our Middle East credibility.

If our priority is to combat terrorism, our financial support of Israel is counter-productive. Israel's recklessness in this war is creating a new generation of hatred in the Middle East that will greatly exacerbate terrorism. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's defiance of Mr. Bush in refusing to leave Palestinian areas reinforces directing our financial aid away from Israel. It's time to be fair to both sides and to do what best supports our own efforts to end terrorism.
Mark Schroeder
Boulder, Colo.

Steer around both Middle East leaders

Regarding "Detour around Arafat" (Editorial, April 8): During negotiations of the past, Yasser Arafat's experience has been that more Palestinian land gets overtaken by Jewish settlements. This makes him resist engaging in another unconditional cease-fire. Ariel Sharon has his own intention of using settlements to push more Palestinians into exile. Thus, he will waste time in negotiations, but in the end will abandon peace talks. US failure is the only possible result, even if these two parties are temporarily pacified and brought to the table with an American broker. The US, in its own interest, must detour around both Sharon and Arafat.

The UN should disregard what Israel and the Palestinians are doing at the moment and impose a solution without their advice. The Saudi peace plan is perfectly straightforward as to the 1967 border, and the whole world seems agreed on that. The loose ends for the UN to debate are reparations and refugees. The UN can dictate what is to be done. The US should propose the Saudi peace plan to the UN and back the UN decisions fully, using American military force if needed.
Robert W. McGill
Lake Charles, La.

Finding Gore's true candidate colors

Regarding "Will the real Al Gore stand up in 2004?" (Opinion, April 9): Godfrey Sperling is right about the real Al Gore. If the relaxed-policy guy shows up on the campaign trail and in debates this time, he'll have a much better chance of winning the presidency. Many voters were turned off by Mr. Gore's unwillingness to be wrong. And being right is going to be even harder this time around – for any candidate – as it seems the general reluctance to criticize President Bush's policies has not faded much. As well, our national memories of the last campaign and election, though from a different age, are ones we're not eager to repeat.
Tandice Ghajar
Charlottesville, Va.

Third parties need recognition, too

Regarding "A governor's race better than Sox tickets" (March 21): I'm shocked by your coverage of the Massachusetts governor's race. There were at least three parties fielding candidates and your paper's reputation demands those from smaller parties be mentioned, if only as a note at the end of an article. I ask your staff to review your handling of third parties. There is an increase in third-party activity nationwide which will, hopefully, change the current course of politics in our country toward more freedom for all.
Marshall Phillips
Lubbock, Texas

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