Slain Hamas leader was an obstacle to peace
Regarding your March 23 editorial "Target Peace, Not Sheikhs": Overlooked was Hamas's goals, which are not susceptible to concession or negotiation. A two-state solution could have been achieved in September 2000 had it not been for the likes of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder and leader of Hamas. Hamas is not only regarded as a terrorist group but is designated as a "foreign terrorist organization" by the US State Department and the European Union.
Hamas is sworn to Israel's destruction, according to its charter. It has spearheaded a campaign of violence against Israel, and has carried out attacks that have killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and injured hundreds more. Yassin's demise will serve the cause of peace in the long run. He was a dangerous Islamic ideologue who represented a danger to the entire region.
Regarding your March 24 article "On Mideast, US response conflicted": It was with dismay that I read the article about the murder of a Palestinian leader by the Israeli military, which was reported as if this were a legitimate way of dealing with "terrorism."
Terrorism can indeed be practiced by states and it can be argued that Israel practices terrorism on a massive scale. The latest extrajudicial murder of a revered Islamic cleric is a wink at the US. What if the Palestinians had killed Ariel Sharon? Would the US have not condemned such an act? Just because a government declares someone a terrorist, it does not give that government the right to kill that person. There is a law. There is a limit. There is a border. Enough.
Falls Church, Va.
Regarding Christopher Elliott's March 24 Opinion piece "Fees, fees, fees. No wonder travelers are chronic cranks:" I agree with Mr. Elliott that travel fees should not be used to prop up sports complexes. But in his zeal, Elliott dismissed something that air travelers should pay for. Using the "passenger facility fee" to insulate houses along the flight path is perfectly just and reasonable. The insulation keeps the noise down; and the noise is a direct (and detrimental) consequence of air travel. Air travelers are responsible for the noise (they could have taken the train) so they should help pay for noise mitigation.
Regarding Jeffrey Shaffer's March 19 Opinion piece "A poor choice for student body precedent": Mr. Shaffer begins by saying that the subject of overweight children is not to be taken lightly, and then proceeds to make light of it. Contrary to what he says, most kids are not able to lose weight on their own, and it's good that the government is trying to help them before childhood obesity becomes even more of a problem.
Regarding your March 23 article "Bush vs. Kerry: The battle over who's stronger on defense": At the end of the day, the real issue for voters will not be which candidate is "stronger" on defense, but which is wiser.
President Bush will have to realize that every world problem isn't a nail for the defense hammer, and voters will have to decide whether Kerry is past the Vietnam syndrome and able to judiciously apply force when needed. The national security issues before us are serious and call for thoughtful discussion on the use of military force in the war on terrorism.
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