Letters to the Editor

Readers write about women in college, Britain's mixed military record, hummus as biblical Jewish cuisine, and airport detentions.

More women in college is not a grave concern

In response to the July 24 editorial, "Gender bias in college admissions," while any gender bias in college admission rates can be cause for concern, the answer as to why this is happening may be all too obvious. Women at all educational levels still make less than their male counterparts.

Women feel that in order to reach the same level of success they must do better than men and therefore put more effort into what it takes to get that education. Until men start falling behind in earning potential, I would not worry too much.

Elizabeth Lewis
Montgomery, Ala.

Britain's military record

In regard to the July 23 Opinion article, "How to beat Iraq's insurgents? Ask the British," the article shows how mixing a couple facts with spin can create a false impression. The article was wrong not in defending the mistakes made by the US military, but in the descriptions of "Britain's impressive military record." Malaya was a successful counterinsurgency, and General Petraeus is utilizing lessons learned in that war. The article ignores the fact that Britain's first three to four years of that war were as poorly managed as America's initial efforts in Iraq.

The Malayan insurgency began in 1948 and was not stabilized until around 1957, when the Malaysian elections were held, and not declared over until 1960. Would Britain have been able to maintain its efforts through the bad times in the beginning as it learned to fight an insurgency, especially if it were subjected to today's instantaneous media saturation?

At the same time, the article fails to address the limited success the British have had in their sector of Iraq. Though certain principles of counterinsurgency hold true, each war brings its own challenges and the response must be tailored to the situation.

Bob Shaw
New Orleans

Hummus as biblical Jewish cuisine

In response to the July 25 article, "Hummus brings Israelis, Palestinians to the table," hummus is authentically part of biblical Jewish cuisine and was eaten in Bethlehem (once a Jewish town, today a Muslim-Palestinian city and Christian holy place) by the ancestors of King David.

The Book of Ruth describes a casual lunch of farm workers, and English translations of it mistakenly render hometz as vinegar instead of hummus (which is the Arabic word). The Book of Ruth also describes dipping bread (in Hebrew "pat" and in Arabic "pita") into the hummus, presumably garnished with olive oil, which is still a major product of the Bethlehem region. Far from stealing Palestinian cuisine as alleged, it is rather a case of Arab invaders of the 7th century who, having settled in previously Jewish Bethlehem, have learned the local ways of preparing food.

Today we Israelis and our Palestinian neighbors all share and enjoy these dishes, and I do not see this as something we have to quarrel about.

David Zohar

Airport detentions deceive the public

I could relate to the July 11 article, "Visit gone awry: Detention roils a US-German family," where Majed Shehadeh was detained.

As someone who has been detained in similar circumstances, I believe that by locking up innocent people the government is attempting to sell the number of those detained as success in the fight against terrorism to the American people.

Rolf Horst Schmitter
Kiev, Ukraine

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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