'Real friends' in the Mideast too precious to spurn Israel

Your April 26 article "Reality intrudes on US vision for Mideast" seems to support Arab criticism of President Bush's Middle East policy. Arabs, in general, and Palestinians in particular, have not done much for peace in the past four years. I cannot remember a single step from the Palestinian leadership toward peace. Instead, they have supported the intifada.

Israelis have lost hope for getting any peace partner as they try to separate from Palestinians. Of course they do not want to give the enemy what they'd reward a true partner. Should the US support the Israeli position or the Palestinian one, a democratic country or despotic regime? Will the US's support of a despotic regime (Palestine) with the aim to eliminate Israel bring more real friends? I doubt it.

History has shown many times over that realpolitik may look good in the short run, but bring terrible results in the long run. The US does not have enough real friends in the Middle East to betray any of them. Any success in weakening Israel will only encourage jihadis to more propaganda and bombings.
Gregory Gutin

Go cashless, but avoid credit cards

Your April 26 article "Going cashless!" about the trend away from cash and checks for consumer purchases identifies several convenient features of credit cards (e.g. reward programs) that consumers would lose by using debit cards. But what you should have mentioned are the substantial costs of those features. These include being buried in debt, due to hard-to-pay-off credit-card purchases that cost far more in the long term than most people realize. And the benefits of credit-card reward programs are usually overstated. Perhaps the single best thing consumers could do is put away their credit cards, reserving them only for emergencies, and switch to debit cards for everyday purchases.
Andrew Forsyth
Rockville, Md.

'Fusion' not limited to Spanish music

Regarding your April 26 article "How do you say fusion in Spanish?": I would like to add that since the 1950s American jazz and pop artists have experimented with melodies and syncopated rhythms from Portuguese-speaking Brazil, which was reciprocally experimenting with American jazz.

This gave rise to the bossa nova movement around the world that exposed jazz legends such as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd in the US, and Antônio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto, and Sérgio Mendes in Brazil. Frank Sinatra even recorded with the legendary Antônio Carlos Jobim on a bilingual version of "The Girl From Ipanema" - now one of the most recorded songs in history. Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso recalls that bossa nova was the greatest affirmation of the Portuguese language to the world. It, too, is very much Latino fusion.
Steven Byrd
Round Rock, Texas

Shoo humans, not deer

Despite the gentle tone of your April 26 article "In gardens, the battle to gain the upper hoof," it assumes the scientists' anthropomorphic point of view that justifies being up in arms, literally, over the deer invading backyard gardens. The basic problem is not that "deer are altering the ecological balance." Rather it is that human beings are radically altering the balance by commandeering so much natural habitat that there is nowhere left for animals to get away from us. What if, instead of blaming deer for meeting basic needs by adapting to what we've done to their environment, we address the profound and irreversible changes to the earth that force deer into our gardens?
Barbara Geiger
Wilmette, Ill.
The writer is a landscape historian.

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