- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2000

Israel can't appease Palestinians

Don Feder's Commentary column, "Hazards of appeasement" (Dec. 22), brought tears to my eyes. I wish he were not as right as he is. It is infuriating to know that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who advocates the murder of children in the name of so-called liberation, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Since the days of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israel has suffered from leadership incapable of perceiving present realities and foreseeing future scenarios. For the past eight years, the United States has suffered from an administration whose foreign policy was dictated more by polls and photo opportunities than a desire to achieve lasting results.

We have been sowing the wind, and now tragedy looms in the Middle East for both Israel and the United States. For Israel, however, the cost is likely to be much greater.

The United States may suffer more terrorist attacks in the Middle East and elsewhere, and it will likely face some harsh realities regarding Middle Eastern states it perceives as "moderate." Israel, however, is a tiny country ringed by hostile states and terrorist organizations.

As Mr. Feder noted, Israel desperately needs its own Winston Churchill. Meanwhile, those in the United States who understand that the policy of appeasing terrorism and violence is nothing less than treachery must raise our voices against it.

It is time to reject appeasement. It is time for the outgoing administration to stop pushing Israel to the wall. It is time for those Americans concerned with Israel's future as well as the United States' position in the Middle East to tell Prime Minister Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and other appeasement-minded leaders that their oft-repeated litany that "there is no choice" and "we must have peace at any price" is a lie.

Let's face it: the Oslo Accords were stillborn. We must stop clinging to an illusion.

RENA COHEN

Rockville

Croatia's former constitution, boundaries relevant to conflict with Serbia

I found Doug Bandow's Commentary column, "The debris of war" (Dec. 23), to be interesting but one-sided. As is often the case, the column's bias is exhibited by what it has omitted. Two simple facts should have been mentioned:

* Croatia was a federated republic that according to Yugoslavia's constitution had full rights of secession. In a 1990 referendum, more than 90 percent of her population clearly expressed this as their choice.

* Boundaries between the republics that constituted the former Yugoslavia were established at the end of World War II and had the blessings of those who were redrawing the map of Europe. They were, perhaps, neither perfect nor just; however, the claims of injustice from Croatia are just as convincing as those from Serbia.

HRVOJE LUKATELA

Calgary, Alberta

Drug use is personal, not public problem

I take umbrage with Robert Sharpe, program officer with the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation of Washington ("U.S. war on drugs only feeds problems in Colombia," Letters, Dec. 22). Mr. Sharpe recommends that the government treat "all substance abuse legal or otherwise" as a "public health problem." Public health problems traditionally have been "communicable diseases" like typhoid or tuberculosis that pose an immediate danger to the public. E coli or poor sanitary conditions that could result in a rodent infestation could also be considered "public health" concerns.

Drug use is a vice, not a crime or a medical disorder. Drug use is a private health matter. Taking drugs is an act of the will, not something that is "caught" like a disease. By suggesting that private health matters are somehow akin to public health concerns, Mr. Sharpe implicitly approves of the government's prohibitionist interventions.

Government should mind their own business. Is excessive drinking in your own home a "public health" concern? Does it cause you harm if your neighbor is privately using drugs? If drug use does not break your leg or pick your pocket, then it should be of no concern to legitimate government. Drug laws are the cause of more crimes than drug use.

The government should restore our natural right to drugs. As Thomas Jefferson said in an address to the Virginia State Legislature, "If the state were to control our drugs and our diet then our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now."

CHRIS BUORS

Winnipeg Manitoba

Internet access, computers can't substitute for teaching the basics in school

The Dec. 25 article "Report calls for new technology investments in classrooms" is alarming. Once again, the "experts" (this time President Clinton's hand-picked commission) have asked lawmakers to "empower" (i.e. force) teachers such as myself to administer more irrelevant distractions that will further detract from our goal teaching the basics to the academically deprived students of this country.

"Cooperative learning," "student centeredness," "heterogeneous grouping," "democratic classrooms," and a host of other flashy politically correct initiatives have turned what was once the world's highest quality educational system into the world's laughingstock. Obligatory Internet access will detract even further from the simple formula that teachers have used for thousands of years: a teacher knows something a student does not, and helps the student think his way through it until he does know it. This is just more feel-good self-congratulatory pablum, which will result in more high schoolers who can't subtract fractions, deal with negative signs, or demonstrate any of the simple skills that seventh graders are supposed to have.

Mr. Clinton's panel of "experts" appear oblivious to the fact that the people who developed the Internet and the other high technologies which dominates our lives first had to master arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, physics, and scores of other supporting disciplines. The assumption that our students can take a quantum leap and deal meaningfully with the end product of all intellectual advancement without mastering the basics reveals an ignorance of the very nature of learning.

If the Web-based Education Commission thinks that competent teachers can't teach basic math, algebra and geometry without computers to guide them, its members are invited to see proof otherwise at Washington's IDEA charter school, where students' math test scores improve by several grade levels their first year. The success of our students is not the result of politically correct initiatives. Rather, it is the result of our home-grown, rigorous curricula, texts designed to build and reinforce all the small steps that lead to real learning, and the tenacious insistence of teachers that students must master one concept before moving on to the next one and build upon it.

What our students need is not expensive, high-tech machines, when they have no grasp of the fundamentals that previous generations internalized to the point of instinct. What they need is a return to the common-sense methodology of step-by-step reasoning that enables students to comprehend and assimilate ever more complex materials. This, not Internet access for every student, is what will allow our students to learn.

CHARLES R. LEWIS

Math Dept. Chair

IDEA Public Charter School

Washington

Jordan too far from team

Thom Loverro's column about Michael Jordan ("Hey, Mike, quit horsing around," Sports, Dec. 22) was right on.

Mr. Jordan is the president of the Wizards, and a president cannot run a company, no matter what kind, from 900 miles away with only monthly visits. Mr. Jordan needs to be at Wizards headquarters, making his presence felt, to let the employees know he cares about the team; he needs to be there to manage, cajole and motivate.

Management from afar doesn't work in industry, and it won't work for the Wizards.

JOHN J. TANI

Fairfax

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