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    Letters to the Editors

    The destruction of Israel is real goal of its foes

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 12, 2000

    Re: Fear keeps Palestinians out of Israel's hospitals.

    What was the purpose of Susan Taylor Martin's Oct. 9 column? The spin masters have had a field day creating instant eye-grabbing headlines portraying the Israeli army as coldly shooting to kill stone-throwing Palestinians. The suggestion that Israeli health care professionals would refuse to treat Palestinians or treat them in a less than humane manner seems careless, irresponsible and one-sided.

    The Arab Palestinians who reside in Israel enjoy the same social and political rights under the law as Jewish Israelis. The arms the Palestinian police are using to shoot at Israeli soldiers came from Israel in an attempt to effect the return of occupied territories to the Palestinians. Israel has no policy of excluding, eliminating or driving into extinction Arab Palestinians.

    Please keep in mind that it has been the policy of Arab Palestinians since the creation (by the authority of international law) of the state of Israel not to coexist with it but to destroy it. Yet, Israel is expected to negotiate to resolution with a people bent on its ultimate extinction. Therein lies the real difficulty and the ultimate challenge.

    The St. Petersburg Times has the power to influence opinions on a broad scale. Please use that influence to present a more balanced view of this highly volatile situation so that the world's vision of this ultimate challenge is clarified rather than obscured.
    -- Jennifer Newsom, Clearwater

    Protest rings hollow

    Re: Local Muslims decry Mideast violence, Oct. 7.

    Disingenuous, indeed, is the strategy employed by local Muslims who parade and decry "Mideast violence." While they profess their hatred of violence, their fellow Palestinians proclaim a day of rage and stone Jewish worshipers at prayer at the holy wall beneath the Temple Mount. Since there are no stones on the Temple Mount, it appears this was certainly orchestrated. Another headline on Oct. 7 says it all: More die as Hamas threatens bombings.

    The ultimate in chutzpah is the local display with Sami Al-Arian haranguing the crowd. This is the same University of South Florida professor who was a co-founder of the think tank known as the World Islamic Studies Enterprise. WISE brought over Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and Hasan Turabi. Shallah is the current head of the terrorist group, Islamic Jihad, and Turabi has been linked to the killing of Christians in the southern Sudan. Al-Arian, the founder of the Islamic Committee for Palestine, was suspected of links to Hamas, and his brother-in-law Mazan Al-Najjar is currently in jail as a security risk. It is also a fact that the leader of the World Trade Building bombing, Sheik Rahman, was an overnight guest in Tampa.

    Finally, we must be naive to believe that the current Palestinian violence is called for or that it is "spontaneous." In fact, it is a demonstration of the callous disregard Palestinian leaders have for their own people whom they manipulate and place in harm's way.
    -- Norman N. Gross, president, Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting, Palm Harbor

    Seek justice for Palestinians

    Re: Death by the hands of hate, Oct. 3.

    Martin Dyckman showed great compassion for 12-year-old Mohammed Jamal Aldura, who was killed by Israeli soldiers, and his comparison to the Holocaust crimes of the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto was very apt.

    But I would ask Dyckman and his rabbi, while praying for the peace of Israel, to also pray for justice for the Palestinians. Who believes that Israel will ever live in peace while its invincible modern army shoots children and battles women and civilians with tanks and Apache gunships?

    The civilized West went to war to save the Kosovars from Slobodan Milosevic, whom they want to try for war crimes, and saved the East Timorese from the criminal Indonesian army. Are the Palestinians not deserving of being saved from this fascist, Nazi-like treatment? Does the fact that the killing is now being done by Jews change the rules? Should the Holocaust blind otherwise honest and moral men and women to yesterday's victims turning victimizers?

    The Tampa Jewish Federation states that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat "has no qualms about placing women and children in harm's way and sacrificing their lives" (Arafat shares blame in Mideast violence, letter, Oct. 6). And those who choose to shoot women and children are blameless?

    These children, gentlemen, also want to be free, just like your children, they want to have a life, hope, a future and dignity. Is this asking too much? Must they live enslaved in their own country? Must they accept the awful prospect of Israelis living on their backs as they did on the backs of their fathers and grandfathers?

    Is this something you can build peace on?
    -- Ed Thalji, Lutz

    Fighting for their country

    Re: Risky behavior, letter, Oct. 6.

    I am a Palestinian teen living in the United States and was very hurt by this letter in response to the Oct. 4 article In Gaza, rules of war favor Israel. Obviously, the writer has not been to Palestine and seen what we have been going through for the past 52 years. No one is coaching these kids.

    It's rocks against guns, and these "kids" are fighting for their country! Who else is going to do it?
    -- Amal Muhammad, Dade City

    Crack down on bad driving

    Re: Bill delivers $50-million for U.S. 19, Oct. 5.

    Rep. C.W. Bill Young should know there is nothing wrong with U.S. 19. It's the people driving.

    When I see four or five cars turning on a red arrow, I know it's the drivers, not the light and not the highway.

    Use the money or some of it to install cameras at intersections. When people have to pay a stiff fine, they'll stop driving dangerously.
    -- M. Roberts, Oldsmar

    SUVs can't be driven like cars

    Re: Explorer issues may go beyond tire brand, Oct. 9.

    The problem isn't the design of the Explorer, it's the drivers.

    The automotive industry likes to market sport utility vehicles as allowing their owners to "get away," to "go anywhere," to "head for adventure." But very few of them get used for such trips anywhere, except in their owners' heads. The sad fact is that the vast majority of SUVs will never go further off the road than unpaved parking lots. And yet Americans keep buying them in record numbers, and people who have never owned anything larger than a midsize car buy vehicles that are relatively huge, heavy and high.

    The major problem is that people forget that SUVs aren't cars. They are trucks. They must be driven like trucks. But people who come from a lifetime of driving cars buy their first SUV because the SUV is the "in" thing to drive and then insist on driving them like cars. In many instances people even call SUVs cars. Ford even softened the suspension of the Explorer to give it a smoother ride -- like a car. And then people who have traded in their sports cars on SUVs insist on driving the SUVs as if they were sports cars. And they are surprised when they roll over and break up.

    We Americans aren't real big on personal responsibility, so we claim the design of the SUV is inherently flawed because it can roll over. That's about like saying the design of an airplane is inherently flawed because it can crash. As long as drivers insist on driving SUVs like cars, driving at high speeds and turning aggressively, SUVs will roll over. As long as people insist on taking this big, high-center-of-gravity, soft suspensioned, mushy tired truck and driving it like a car, SUVs will roll over.

    The problem isn't the SUVs, it's the drivers.
    Alan Petrillo, St. Petersburg

    Don't block safety legislation

    Re: Explorer issues may go beyond tire brand, Oct. 9.

    I was shocked to read newspaper stories showing how Ford and Firestone covered up information about the tire defects and roll-over problems that have been linked to more than 150 deaths worldwide. But even worse are the stories I see in national newspapers about how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has joined the auto industry in a campaign to defeat new safety legislation under consideration in Congress.

    Our representatives and senators should move quickly, before they adjourn, to pass tough legislation that puts teeth in auto regulators' recall authority, prohibits coverups, and, most important, adds the threat of criminal penalties, including prison time, for violations. After all, other regulators can already impose criminal penalties against corporate wrongdoers, so why should Congress give the car and tire industry a get-out-of-jail-free card despite this summer's record of coverups leading to tragedies?
    -- Antje Meissner, campaign associate, Florida Public Interest Research Group, Tallahassee

    Devil Rays should think before speaking

    Re: School band will play dome without paying, Oct. 6.

    We wonder why folks don't volunteer more often. I'm glad to see that the St. Petersburg High School band will play at Tropicana Field next year, but I'm very proud of the band members for rejecting the offer this time, once they found they were required to pay for tickets to the game.

    Talk about the nerve of the Devil Ray officials. That's like inviting a friend over because you need a fourth for bridge, serving him dinner with the others and then handing him a bill for the meal on his way out. Talk about a slap in the face!

    The Devil Ray officials wouldn't need to worry about fashioning a happy ending if they had used their heads in the first place. We should all make an effort to think things out before we open our mouths and put our foot in.
    -- Fran Glaros, Clearwater

    School bands deserve to be paid

    Re: School band will play dome without paying, Oct. 6.

    Perhaps the high school bands should boycott the Devil Rays until the team starts paying bands instead of trying to charge them. The Devil Rays are a commercial enterprise and not a non-profit charity. Without volunteers, they would either have to pay a known vocalist or professional band at musicians' rates to play the national anthem before the games or admit that after soaking the community for millions of dollars, they are too cheap to do other than play a CD over the PA system.

    Perhaps after footing the bill, generally not small, for such performances, the Devil Rays will realize that playing the national anthem is a service and not an honor.

    High school bands should be paid to perform befor a game since they are providing a service. The band members' parents, through taxes, have already paid the Devil Rays too much.

    If the Devil Rays want to give the various high school bands a commission for selling tickets to the games, that might be a good idea, but it should be a totally separate arrangement from a band playing at a game.
    -- C.F. Allen, Dunedin

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