Possible solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
In response to John Whitbeck's Sept. 14 Opinion piece, "Palestine: democracy not Zionism," kudos to Mr. Whitbeck for his insightful, honest views on the most practical solution to the inhuman conditions prevailing in the Holy Land and the endless suffering of the indigenous population.
Sadly, most Western politicians seem like unperturbed witnesses, too scared to be involved. Little do those in position of authority, who can intervene, realize that indifference is tantamount to complicity in crimes being committed daily in full view of the international community.
History will judge such politicians very harshly.
Regarding Mr. Whitbeck's Opinion piece about using democracy to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: He presents a bad solution to a complex problem.
This piece does not take into account the realities of mixed-religion nation states, exemplified by countries where this kind of solution has led to continuous bloodshed and animosity, such as Cyprus, Yugoslavia, and others.
The only possible resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for the two peoples to separate into two states to allow the wounds of a 100-year conflict to heal.
Recidivism not affected by religion
Regarding your Sept. 13 editorial, "Prison purge of religious books," I must quarrel with your summary assertion that "religion plays a vital rehabilitative role for prisoners."
The United States Department of Justice pegs the national criminal recidivism rate at more than 60 percent. It sounds as if religion is a dismal failure as a rehabilitator of convicts.
Maybe it would be more valuable for inmates to learn critical thinking and perhaps some marketable job skill, rather than theology.
Roy Dufrain Jr.
Deeds over creeds in US government
In the Sept. 12 article, "Faith's role on the rise in Campaign '08," the Pew Forum poll finds two-thirds of voters want a president with strong religious beliefs and 38 percent want more discussion of religion.
Let's remember that we are not electing a bishop or ayatollah or chief rabbi, but a capable leader for a secular (i.e., religiously neutral) government and that deeds are more important than creeds.
Osama bin Laden has strong religious beliefs, but I don't think we want him. Pat Robertson has strong religious beliefs, but his own party rejected him as a candidate some years back.
Silver Spring, Md.PresidentAmericans for Religious Liberty
Depressing books for kids
Thank you for publishing Mary Collins's Sept. 14 Opinion piece, "Enough with depressing reading lists."
Required reading for middle- and high- school kids should be uplifting as well as mind expanding. Many of the books schools assign are incredibly depressing, with themes appropriate for adults, not children.
Both of my children have come to us red-faced with tears in their eyes asking, "Why do they make us read this?" Our kids don't need that. If kids choose on their own to read books focusing on life's horrors, I applaud their initiative, but schools should not be in the business of dictating reading lists that mentally torture our kids.
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