To build Israeli-Palestinian trust, dismantle settlements

Your Jan. 28 editorial ("Before Mideast Peace: Trust") urges confidence-building measures such as the beginning of weapons confiscation from Palestinian militants and a "greatly eased flow of people and funds between the two sides."

But the US-supported road map for peace also calls on Israel to cease settlement activities. Trust cannot be built nor Palestinian militant groups be persuaded to disarm while Israel continues to build its barrier wall on the West Bank, destroying orchards and homes, confiscating land, and expanding Jewish settlements.

These Israeli acts violate international law and human rights, and make impossible the viable Palestinian state called for by President Bush, the road map, and your editorial.
Edmund R. Hanauer
Framingham, Mass.
Executive Director, Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel

Palestinian leadership needs to step up

Reading John Hughes's Jan. 19 column, "Strike a Mideast deal now, or hold your peace," one is struck by the fact that all the parties must "do something": commitment from the US, support from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, help from Europe, the relinquishing of territory by Israel, etc.

But what of the Palestinians? According to Mr. Hughes, they need to forsake violence ... again! Israel has already given up some territory, and offered much more, but to no avail.

Mr. Hughes suggests further that Hamas and Islamic Jihad, sworn to Israel's destruction, be "persuaded" that they can do more to achieve their objectives through negotiations than through violence.

Why would it not be more advisable to call upon the new Palestinian leadership to make immediate and concrete - yet reasonable - steps that are fully possible? End incitement against Jews and Israel in the press, including Palestinian television. Change the school curriculum from teaching hatred to encouraging coexistence.

The Palestinians carry enormous responsibility for the deplorable situation they are in. They must be prepared to accept responsibility for getting themselves out, as well.
Dr. William Bilek
Woodstock, Ga.

Give birds a little credit

Regarding the item, "Birds smarter than believed" ("On the horizon," Feb. 3): It's great that the ornithologists are revamping their bird-brain anatomy.

Anyone who has paid attention to their pet birds knows they're smart. And they're a lot like us. Most avian species pair bond (have monogamous breeding relationships) - some for life.

Besides making tools, many birds are involved in commerce. Some actually share. And they visibly mourn when their mate (or human "owner") dies.

There's much to learn here. I, for one, would like to know how birds manage to do so many things so well, given their minuscule brains.
Roger Pariseau
Oxnard, Calif.

Preserve our nation's artistic resources

Regarding the Jan. 20 article "Symphony strike echoes across US" about the St. Louis Symphony lockout/strike: America's priorities and tastes are changing.

The arts are like natural resources, enriching life on earth interdependently. Remove one element and the domino effect often occurs.

The St. Louis Symphony, the most soulful orchestra in the US, rightly finds its place in the top five American orchestras. I hope St. Louis rouses itself to preserve one of its finest features and to help keep this nation's arts environment healthy.
Lise Glaser
Tulsa, Okla.
Principal oboe, former Tulsa Philharmonic

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