- The Washington Times - Monday, November 27, 2000

Pakistan should reconsider Indian offer

Statements by Pakistani officials in both Washington and Islamabad continue to reflect that country's self-defeating strategy of categorically rejecting the slightest offer of restraint or compromise while making no reasonable offer of its own to abate hostilities in Kashmir ("Kashmiris reject cease-fire offer," Nov. 21). Up to now, the deadlock between the two has been over sequencing whether India should reduce its presence in Kashmir first or Pakistan should suspend its support of cross-border terrorism in order for talks to begin. Regardless of who takes the first step, an end to hostilities is the sine qua non of creating the conditions for talks. To claim otherwise perpetuates a policy of violence.

India's recent cease-fire offer marks a welcome and dramatic departure from its previous position and indicates a willingness to engage in a dual-track dialogue given the creation of a conducive climate. That climate would include both militant groups and Pakistan under what Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has termed a spirit of humanity. Despite the comments of Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi,, Pakistan has isolated itself from the world through its support of terrorist groups and its radicalization of political and social classes within the country. Pakistan should view India's offer as a lifeline and not a noose. By accepting what is seen as political good faith from India, Pakistan could send a message to the investors and financial institutions whose support it desperately needs that it too wishes a normalization of relations and a return to stability in the region.

CAMERON HUDSON

Washington

Nuclear power a clean, safe alternative

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David B. Sandalow said during a briefing at the United Nations' global climate summit that the Clinton administration had expressed concerns about nuclear energy, one of many options nations could pursue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ("Gore made flip-flop on nuclear power use: New stance came on eve of election," Nov. 17).

Contrary to these tenuous concerns, nuclear energy is safe and cost-effective and is the leader in avoiding emissions in the electricity sector. U.S. nuclear power-plant safety and production are at record-high levels. More than 100 nuclear power plants produced a record 728 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 1999, more than 20 percent of all electricity used in our power-hungry digital economy. Also, environmental management practices at nuclear power plants have prevented any significant impacts on the environment since the start of the commercial nuclear industry more than 45 years ago.

In addition to its clean-air benefits, nuclear energy is the second cheapest form of electricity, only about a half-cent more costly than coal-fired electricity. Nuclear production costs are significantly less than those of natural gas and oil in the electricity sector. Frank Loy, undersecretary of state for global affairs, said at the United Nations climate change summit at The Hague that in each of the past two years, while our gross domestic product grew by more than 4 percent, greenhouse gases grew by less than 1 percent. What the administration doesn't say is that nuclear energy is one of the most important reasons for this economic and environmental success.

Without nuclear energy, power marketers would be scrambling just to meet today's burgeoning demand for electricity. Environmentalists and policy-makers would have to scramble even more because, without nuclear energy, they would have to double reductions of carbon under the Kyoto Protocol.

SCOTT PETERSON

Senior director-industry communications

Nuclear Energy Institute

Washington

Replacement nurses' freedom bad for patients

In the article "Replacement nurses say they love freedom" (Business Times, Nov. 13), your reporter describes the choice some nurses make to work for an agency that specializes in providing replacement nurses during strikes. These replacement nurses, your reporter writes, like the freedom to "even leave [assignments] during lengthy disputes." Nowhere in the article is the effect on patients mentioned.

Patients are hurt when nurses with "freedom" can leave their assignments on a whim. Patients are hurt when hospital administrators refuse to pay nurses adequate wages or make the reforms that even one of the replacement workers said were needed. Patients are hurt when management refuses to negotiate in good faith with nurses and instead forces a strike. Like all unionized health care workers, nurses are faced with a terrible decision when they strike, and all of them recognize it to be a last resort. All too often, however, hospital administrators force strikes at the expense of their patients.

JACOB REMES

New Haven, Conn.

Israelis have a right to their homeland

John Whitbeck's Nov. 14 Commentary column, "Palestinians are people, too," requires an immediate response lest readers be swayed by the outrageously unfair and erroneous statements within. Allow me to refute his charges with documented facts:

The only people ever to rule a nation in what is now Israel (what the Palestinians refer to as Palestine) are the Jewish people. No conquerors, including Muslims, who were in control of the land after A.D. 70, ever established a nation there. Nor, since the time of David, has any people but the Jews ever made Jerusalem its capital. Jews continued to live in the land after the Roman conquest and have constituted a majority in Jerusalem for the past 100 years.

As recently as 70 years ago, Arabs living in Palestine identified as part of the larger Arab people (or as part of Greater Syria). "Palestinians" at that time were Jews. Arabs assumed the identity of "Palestinians" only in political response to the Jewish state. They have no culture or history separate from the Arab people.

Palestine some 100 or so years ago was settled sparsely by Arabs, many of them nomads. Jewish immigration, which brought an improved quality of life, actually attracted Arabs from other places. There was enough room for both peoples, but Arabs resisted Jewish settlement, at least in part for religious reasons. Muslims find the presence of Jews in the land inherently offensive. That is what Jihad (about which Yasser Arafat still speaks to his people) is about. There is a religious injunction (a fatwa) to rid the land of Jews; it still is in effect today.

In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition Palestine between Jews and Arabs. The Jews agreed; the Arabs rejected the proposal. As Israel declared independence in 1948, the Arab states descended upon her in a war to destroy her.

The situation of the Arab refugees was created in the midst of war. Let no one imagine that Jews simply decided to banish Arabs from their land. In many instances, Jews prevailed upon Arab neighbors to stay. Arab leaders, however, advised their people to fell, telling them they could return to greater material advantage after the Israeli defeat. In the course of this war, Jordan captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Egypt, Gaza. In the West Bank and Gaza, refugee camps were set up; for the next 19 years of Arab control, these refugee camps were maintained. There was no attempt by the respective Arab nations to dismantle the camps and absorb the refugees. This is a crucial fact. It is true that the Palestinians were not treated as people, but it was their fellow Arabs who were guilty of this sin. They preferred to use the Palestinians as political ploys to pressure Israel. Those Arabs who did not flee Israel were granted citizenship. There are Arabs today sitting in the Israeli parliament (the Knesset).

At the same time, there were Jewish refugees from Arab areas of control. All Jews were banished from places controlled by Jordan (which is how East Jerusalem became "Arab"). Synagogues and cemeteries were desecrated; Jews were forbidden to approach the Western Wall, their holiest site. In a host of Arab nations as well, Jews were pushed out, their numbers being roughly equal to the numbers of Arabs who fled. Israel simply absorbed them, and there never has been recompense for lost lands or properties.

Occupation is never a positive thing, but Israel's occupation of Arab population in the West Bank and Gaza was relatively benign: The Palestinians had a quality of life measured by civil rights, health care, education and more that was enhanced from what it had been when they were ruled by fellow Arabs. The Oslo negotiations were initiated by Israel out of a decision that Israelis no longer wished to rule over another people. To speak today of occupation is an anachronism: The vast majority of Palestinians are under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

ARLENE KUSHNER

Rockville

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