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    Letters to the Editors

    U.S. Israel policy not to blame

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 3, 2002

    Re: The Sept. 11 attacks have left us behaving in un-American ways, by Bill Maxwell, Jan. 13.

    In his column, Bill Maxwell referred positively to a new course on terrorism offered at the University of Florida. As course instructor and supervisor, respectively, we appreciate his endorsement of the course. However, we are concerned that the placement of the paragraph may mislead readers about the content of the course.

    Specifically, Maxwell's complimentary remarks follow immediately his assertion that U.S. support for Israel and Israel's policies toward the Palestinians, which provoke enormous anger in the Muslim and Arab world, are chiefly responsible for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Maxwell's references to the course in the next paragraph seem to imply that the course supports his argument.

    While we recognize that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a source of much frustration and anger in the Arab and Muslim world, we do not believe that U.S. support for Israel caused the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Arab and Muslim leaders have too often attempted to divert attention from their own social, political and religious malfeasance by exploiting the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In the same manner, these leaders invoke alleged Israeli misdeeds and American support to justify various acts of terrorism, Iraq's 1991 invasion of Kuwait and the failure of Arab and Muslim states to develop legitimate and acceptable forms of social, political, economic and religious forms of governance.

    Israel is not responsible for these developments, and the problems of the Arab world would remain had Israel never existed. Indeed, Israel is not solely responsible for the terrible condition of Palestinians. That responsibility is shared by Egypt and Jordan, which occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, respectively, for almost 20 years, as well as the British who played both Jews and Arabs against each other during the Mandatory Period. They also have legitimate grievances against all the Arab and Muslim states (except Jordan) that have used the plight of the Palestinians for political gain but have refused to grant them political rights and citizenship.

    While we respect him as a courageous journalist, we would not want anyone to imagine that we share his views about the sources of the butchery on Sept. 11. Blaming Israel, directly or indirectly, ignores history and belies the terrorists' own words.
    -- Adam L. Silverman, instructor, and Kenneth D. Wald, professor, Department of Political Science, University of Florida, Gainesville

    Militant Islam's threat

    Re: Not all militant Islamic groups are out to get Americans, by Susan Taylor Martin, Jan. 27.

    I unequivocally agree with Steven Emerson's statement that "militant Islamic fundamentalism is a phenomenon that seeks to impose its sovereignty around the world."

    It does not matter if it is al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad or Hamas -- they are all terrorist organizations that directly or indirectly threaten the United States.

    Some of them are now busy with their own priorities but, ultimately, they will turn on the United States. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, many of them paraded in the streets, danced and distributed sweets to celebrate the "victory" over the United States.
    -- Morton Wygodski, St. Petersburg

    An equal offense

    There you go again. Now you print the inaccurate opinions of Susan Taylor Martin as a column in addition to the anti-Semitic bellicosity of Bill Maxwell. Do you not realize that "militant groups" such as Hamas murdering Jewish children and women is tantamount to al-Qaida's murdering Americans?
    -- Michael Andrew Zimmer, St. Petersburg

    Get the point: don't forget

    Re: Detainees deserve dignity and protection of Geneva Conventions by Robyn Blumner and Don Wright's cartoon, Jan. 27.

    Robyn Blumner should place a loved one's image in Wright's cartoon of a man in the World Trade Center, Sept. 11, with a plane coming directly at him, on the phone asking to be connected to a civil libertarian.

    Since "we" don't get the point -- the detainees shown stripped of their dignity, shaved heads (against their religion) and shackled -- Robyn must have forgotten that it's against their religion to kill. She forgot that they are "detained" so they don't repeat Sept. 11. She forgot that, if freed, they will probably kill more people before their beloved hair grows out. Did she forget the many heartbreaking images we've seen since Sept. 11? The image of the terrorists shackled, shaved and on their knees is not exactly what I imagined; I'd rather see the hurt and pain of losing a loved one in their eyes permanently. And did she forget the way they treat their own women? Eighty-seven percent of the American people have not forgotten Sept. 11, get the point!
    -- Brenda Allen, Seminole

    Unreasonable concern

    The media's concern for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay is far out of proportion to the actual problem. If you would take time to examine the conditions for inmates in single-cell isolation in any state medium- or maximum-security correctional facility, you will find that by comparison, the detainees are having a nice walk in the park.

    Since the Chinese are part of our coalition, we could turn these thugs over to them. Look at their record with us during the Korean War. There were 8,176 of our soldiers that are still carried as missing. Most of them were killed by the Chinese before they could become prisoners of war, and no one cared. Of the 6,856 GIs that were lucky enough to be POWs, 2,438 (36 percent) died in captivity, and still no one cared. If the Chinese took the detainees, the problem for us would disappear, so would the detainees. I'm sure your writers would care if this were the case.

    Why is it that the liberal civil liberties crowd seems to show more concern for our enemy than they have for our own troops?

    (Source for this data: Office for the Secretary of Defense. Data released on Jan. 10, 2000.)
    -- Frank Thoubboron, Belleair

    Pretzel logic

    Re: Editorial cartoon by Pat Oliphant, Jan. 27.

    With all due respect to President George W. Bush, it may be easier to leave the piece of pretzel lodged in his throat. It may be the president's best defense. With that, he will be unable to cough up the truth, as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars which the Enron Corp. contributed to his campaigns (gubernatorial and presidential). Pretzel, anyone?
    -- JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

    There's no comparison

    Re: Enron brings drama to hearing room, by Mary McGrory, Jan. 27.

    Not so fast, Mary!

    Your column demonstrates that the desire of the left-leaning editorial media to tar the Bush administration and excuse the Clinton era has gone a step too far.

    After a bland reminiscence of Sam Ervin, your attempt to equate Enron with Watergate was both incorrect and inappropriate. As we all know, Watergate was a conspiracy stemming from executive branch hubris. Enron is no such thing. The White House certainly didn't cause the Enron collapse at all. Moreover, the executive branch acted morally despite of the large contributions from Enron to the political parties. The attempt to tie Watergate and Enron together just doesn't hold water. The facade of nostalgia for yesteryear can't cover the inappropriateness of the comparison.

    The final comparison in the column in which the quotation from Sen. Cleland regarding the meaning of "is" is used to compare the Enron problem with the Clinton era crime of perjury is also completely off base. The fact that President Clinton lied to a federal court is certainly a failure far greater as regards a threat to our democracy than the bankruptcy of a large company that didn't receive government support after major campaign contributions and in which there is no indication of inappropriate government action, much less criminality.

    Sorry Mary, this one just won't fly.
    -- John J. Christman, Terra Verde

    We'll miss you, Peggy

    The line was a block long at the Paramount Theatre on Broadway in New York City. We were waiting to see and hear Peggy Lee.

    Her style was unique and the phrasing perfect as she seemed to sing directly to you, in almost a whisper. Get Out of Here and Get Me Some Money, Too brought us to our feet, yelling for encores. And Fever? That really made our mercury rise.

    Peggy, we'll miss you, but I'm afraid "That's all there is."
    -- Sheila G. Brill, St. Petersburg

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