Letters to the Editor

Readers write about aid discrimination in Burma, President Bush's Mideast trip, and Jimmy Carter's Hamas talks.

All minority groups in Burma experience persecution

Regarding the May 14 article, "Is Burma's aid delay discriminatory?": The Burmese junta discriminates against all its people and treats Buddhists with the same contempt as Karens. News organizations, movies, etc., portray the situation in Burma as oppressive of Christians and Muslims. This is far from the truth. Check out ethnic groups' websites and learn about the abuse that is directed against all groups, not just the Karen.

Indeed, this kind of thought, that only the Christians are targeted, creates misconceptions that can fuel discrimination. Read human rights reports that show how all people in Burma are affected by a dictatorship.

Lita Davidson
Abbotsford, British Columbia

Regarding the recent article on aid discrimination in Myanmar: As soon as I heard that aid was slow in getting to the delta region, my reaction was, "The generals are not going to bother rushing aid to the victims. After all, the population is heavy with Karen rice farmers." In addition, holding the referendum at a time when the junta could be sure of removing a million people who are not sympathetic to the government from the vote must be seen by the government as a bonus.

I worked in Burma from 1962-64 on an oil exploration team. My local crew members were almost all Karen, sending money back home "for the cause." The government, in its "Burmese way to Socialism" program, took away a lot of the rice paddies from Karen rice farmers and gave it to landless ethnic Burmese – most of whom didn't have the proper skills to farm rice. That and other ill-advised price-control schemes crippled the rice crop for a long time.

Michael King

Bush's 'appeasement' remark is ironic

Regarding the May 16 article, "In Israel, Bush's blunt Mideast view": For eight years George Bush has deliberately ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, allowing Israel to violate his "road map for peace" and the Annapolis conference. His speech to the Knesset was overwhelming with passion and praise for a nation condemned by nearly every international body for its brutal occupation and treatment of Palestinians. Former Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom of the Likud Party even described President Bush's speech as a "Zionist speech." As he spoke, Israel was expanding illegal settlements.

Bush's appeasement remark was ironic, given that in 2001, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon accused Bush of appeasing the Arabs by enlisting them to fight terrorism. Mr. Sharon told Bush, "Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense."

Bush is negotiating with North Korea. John McCain said two years ago he'd negotiate with Hamas. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said the United States should engage Iran. Earlier this year, an Israeli poll showed that 64 percent of Israelis say Israel should hold direct talks with Hamas.

Mohamed Khodr
Winchester, Va.

Carter's negotiation efforts laudable

In response to the April 22 article, "Will Carter's Hamas foray bear fruit?": Although I have had my political differences with Jimmy Carter in the past, I think his efforts to bring Hamas and the Israelis together is noble and brave. If people do not talk, come face to face, and try to work out their differences, this fighting will go on for another century. Both sides are right and wrong, but discovering how to navigate that divide will be next to impossible without face-to-face good faith talks.

This war will never end unless one side or the other takes a chance. Bless Jimmy Carter for trying. He will be vilified, but no good deed goes unpunished, as they say.

Gary C. Cosay
Nantucket, Mass.

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