Safety merits Palestinian controls; democracy suffers

Regarding Helena Cobban's March 18 Opinion piece "Movement controls stunt Palestinian lives - and democracy": Ms. Cobban fails to understand the forces at play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel's movement restrictions are the result, and not the cause, of Palestinian militancy. If the Palestinian leadership undertook the necessary measures to stop violence and terrorism and resume peace negotiations with Israel, there would be no need for movement controls.

After three years of unabated Palestinian terrorism, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is taking the necessary measures to protect the Israeli civilian population. Such measures would not be needed if Israel had a partner for peace.

The fact is that Israel has been and will be open to negotiations about the territories if only the Palestinians end the conflict and accept Israel's legitimacy. Israeli leaders have affirmed time and again that movement controls, such as the fence, are not a means for political coercion, but a means through which to prevent suicide bombers from infiltrating into Israel.
Abraham H. Foxman
New York
National Director, Anti-Defamation League

Ms. Cobban rightly reports the incredulity with which the Palestinian people regard the claims of President George W. Bush to be working in favor of democracy. But it is not just the Palestinian people. Much of the world looks at what Bush does and not at what he says. It seems to be only Americans who are unable to recognize the vast gulf between the two.
Christopher Leadbeater
Oxon, England

Schools should be corporate-free zones

Your March 18 article "In fast-growing Texas, businesses aid schools" conveys only one side of a complex issue. Many schools do indeed face severe funding challenges, and quality education is unattainable without sufficient resources.

However, a growing movement opposes ties between corporations and public schools.

Strings often are attached to corporate funding, and there may be a conflict of interest between corporate agendas and the purposes of public education. If a chemical company provides funding for a school, will that school readily encourage students to think critically about the environmental dangers of chemical pollutants?

Reliance on corporate philanthropy could also create a disincentive for governments to provide school funding. If businesses eventually discontinue their donations, schools may be left with even fewer resources than before.

In an age in which corporate conglomerates tend to monopolize the media, there are few informational resources with the potential of remaining free of private agendas. One is public education. Hopefully, citizen concern will keep the last beacons of democracy free of undue influence.
Kathryn Matteson
Normandy Park, Wash.

Church ads, minus branding

Regarding your March 16 article "Mainstream churches take a leap of faith into TV advertising": Your story about US church denominations' TV advertising is being read with interest here at the World Council of Churches, and in my case at least, with sadness. Why couldn't such advertising be an ecumenical project by councils of churches, with the denominations pooling their precious funds?

Ads could appear with the same message, but without the "brand names," and a local emphasis such as, "The churches of Boston welcome you."
Isabel Best

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