Does transfer equal ethnic cleansing?

Regarding Helena Cobban's Oct. 10 Opinion column: "Stop ethnic cleansing in the Mideast before it starts": Her commentary should wake people up to the fact that Americans have a great responsibility to take a stronger position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

When Israel became a state, Americans did not know much about the Middle East. Today, Americans have no excuse to remain uninformed and unconcerned about the situation there. We watch the heavy-handedness of Israel's army on the news daily. Surely by now we realize that the Israeli government's intentions for the Palestinians are not peaceful.

Isn't it time that, instead of bombing Iraq, we put all our efforts into the peace process in the Holy Land, to the point that we demand Israel comply with all UN resolutions, withdraw to pre-1967 borders, and remove all settlements from occupied Palestine? Our blind support for Israel has caused us more harm than good.
Elaine Washburn
Van Lear, Ky.

In response to "Stop ethnic cleansing in the Mideast before it starts": The use of the term ethnic cleansing in relation to Israel and the Palestinians is highly inciting and downright wrong. Under Israeli rule the Palestinian population has grown, life expectancy has risen, and infant mortality has gone down.

President Clinton tried to find a resolution to the Palestinian problem. His proposals were rejected by President Yasser Arafat, who launched a war of terror in response. This forced Israel to return to areas from which it had already withdrawn.

If the Palestinians had wanted an independent state next to Israel, they could have had it under the Clinton-Barak plan.
Naomi Leitner
Kfar Saba, Israel

Regarding "Stop ethnic cleansing in the Mideast before it starts": Population transfer involves physically moving a group of people. Ethnic cleansing is murder, pure and simple.

Population transfer is done only as a last resort, in order to prevent a worse situation such as war or, conversely, a genocide. As awful as transfer would be, it is not the same as ethnic cleansing.
Sheldon Tyber

Nevada drug initiative is on target

John Hughes's Oct.16 Opinion column "Nevada's unfortunate drug initiative," does not consider the fact that the proposal could end the lucrative black market created by illegal marijuana. Sale of marijuana in regulated shops would provide revenue to the state coffers, also making it harder for minors to purchase it. Actual use could decrease, as was the case in Holland.

The drug war is a waste of law-enforcement resources. The Nevada marijuana initiative does not endorse drug use, it is intended to restore freedom to responsible adult marijuana users and to eliminate the marijuana black market.
Kevin M. Hebert
Chicopee, Mass.

Lesson in humility for the US

In response to Richard C. Hottelet's Oct. 16 Opinion piece "The failure of US leadership": To reach our superpower status, we supported some corrupt dictators of countries who had something we wanted. Exploitation and conducting shady deals make superpower status attainable.

Our wrongdoing and arrogance cause a large segment of the world to hate us. We cannot project an air of superiority if we are to provide world leadership. The quality that only a truly great person has is humility.

If we want to lead the global community, as a nation we must begin to take on the mantle of humility. The world will respond positively to that undertaking.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Louisville, Ky.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include contact information. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

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