Peace requires commitment - not just from Israel

Regarding Helena Cobban's Aug. 14 Opinion column "Israel: Change your vision for long-term peace": The writer has dismissed the nine years of Oslo accords. There was great effort on the Israeli side to move toward complete coexistence. Many West Bank cities were turned over to the Palestinian Authority, and Israeli schools reworked their curriculum. But the PA textbooks have continually preached hatred of Jews and "mar- tyrdom" as the highest of ideals. All the onus is put on Israel, when the fact is this so-called intifada began after Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians their own state on most of the West Bank, with half of Jerusalem as their capital. It is the PA that turned to violence instead of further negotiation.
Andrew Doxer
Brighton, Mass.

Thank you for printing Helena Cobban's Opinion piece on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. It is a view uncommonly given expression in the American media, which tend to view the region through the narrow lens of terrorism and Israeli interests. If Israelis, Americans, and Palestinians are all committed to peace, Ms. Cobban's vision is certainly one to which we should aspire.
Nathan East
Haifa, Israel

White House cloaked in secrecy

Regarding Daniel Schorr's commentary of Aug. 15 ("In Washington, a tug of war over secrets"), I find the current situation in Washington over the unreleased 28 pages abhorrent. The families of the Sept. 11 victims deserve to know all the results of the congressional inquiry. The American people deserve to know. Who keeps an eye on the henhouse? Nixon and Clinton and other presidents proved that someone other than the president must have an option to determine "national security" interests.

I voted for President Bush in the last election. My friends and fellow citizens (who happen to be conservative also) are losing faith in our leadership to "come clean" with us. The cloak of secrecy merely serves to raise the level of suspicion and paranoia of citizens. Don't we deserve to know the full truth of the congressional inquiry?

And in response to Mr. Schorr's question: "Who gets to say, in the end, whether a congressional committee can disclose secrets that the administration doesn't want disclosed?" I suggest the American people should get to say.
Debbie Stall
Chandler, Ariz.

Parents, play, and plastic guns

Regarding April Austin's Aug. 5 column "Are war toys more acceptable now?": I am increasingly frustrated with the idea that "war toys" make children more aggressive. I have friends who don't let their children play with such toys. As a result, one of them makes a gun out of his peanut butter sandwich. People are blaming an object for influencing their children. Guns and the like have been around for centuries. The problem of school shooting and violence has not. Why not look at what we are teaching our kids - or not teaching them? How much quality time do we spend with them? Do we teach them the value of a human life? We should be explaining more about war to our kids as they are ready to understand and quit trying to hide the "war toys." This is only going to pique their curiosity.
Leslie Brown
Arlington, Texas

I am grateful for the column on war toys. When our two sons were children, we worked with them to role-play finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts they had heard about on the news. They have become more reflective as teens when they discuss these matters. Parents can offer alternatives to what stores sell, although it helps to have communities of like-minded parents.
Robert C. Morrison
Westfield, N.J.

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