- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 7, 2000

Who are the true Palestinians?

In his Oct. 4 letter to the editor, Shams Shihadeh fails to live up to his claim to be a student of the Middle East ("Article on Israeli-Palestinian violence reveals bias"). In reality, any student of the Middle East would acknowledge the facts which he denies.

He states that Israel is an occupying force in the Palestinian territory. But who are the Palestinians? In the second century A.D. the Romans killed half a million Jews, and thousands were sold into slavery. The Romans renamed Israel 'Syria Palaestina.' Jews living there became known as Palestinians and were consistently called Palestinians until the second half of the 20th century. During World War II, the British army had a Palestinian Brigade made up entirely of Jewish volunteers. The Palestinian Symphony Orchestra was all Jewish, and the Palestine Post was a Jewish newspaper.

In 1948, Arabs who had fled from Israel (attacking Arab nations had broadcast, "All Arabs get out!") began to claim they were the true Palestinians and that the land of Israel had always belonged to them. World media to this day eagerly promotes that lie. Yet in 1948, Arabs owned a mere 3 percent of so-called Palestine.

Israel's claim to the land goes back 4,000 years to the purchase Abraham made in Hebron. For 3,000 years Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. The 35 acre Temple Mount, currently the center of dispute, was purchased by King David from Ornan the Jebusite. It was the site of the first and second Jewish Temple.

Those who call themselves Palestinians today are Arabs by birth, language and culture, and are close relatives to Arabs in surrounding countries from where most of them came, attracted by Israel's prosperity.

The facts are that Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon is not the criminal Yasser Arafat is. He committed his first murder at age 20. He masterminded the biggest hijacking (four aircraft at once), the largest number of hostages ( 3,000 at one time), the largest ransom extorted ($5 million from Lufthansa) and the greatest number and variety of targets ( 40 civilian aircraft, five passenger ships, 30 embassies or diplomatic missions and schools). He has never apologized or condemned any of these actions of his organization. The facts are tragically plain to those who will look beyond PLO propaganda.

DAVID WHITNEY

Annapolis

Clinton tries to hide results of Irish peace sham

Following your good Sept. 29 editorial "David Trimble on the edge", I noticed something of interest in the on-line edition of The Telegraph, the distinguished British conservative newspaper (www.telegraph.co.uk). It appears that the Clinton administration has tried to suppress a television report on Irish Republican Army gunrunning out of the United States, citing the fragility of the peace process.

In reality, the Clinton administration is trying to hide the fact that the Northern Ireland peace initiative made no fundamental difference. It was never an evenhanded effort to establish peace. It was a gimmick intended to help Sen. Edward Kennedy when his 1994 re-election campaign was in trouble and to win Irish-American votes for Mr. Clinton in the 1996 presidential election. This was widely reported by commentators at the time.

But who can oppose a so-called peace initiative? In launching this gimmick the Clintonites must have remembered Robert Kennedy's use of a similar publicity stunt, when he offered to intercede between Great Britain and the communist-supported Indonesian President Sukarno in the armed conflict known as Confrontation. Around 1964, Mr. Sukarno had set out to take over his small neighbor Malaysia, a former British colony, a move not supported by most Malaysians. The Indonesian takeover was defeated, and Mr. Kennedy's stunt of trying to look like a peacemaker contributed nothing to settling the issue.

The basic situation regarding Northern Ireland since the Good Friday accords is that the future will be decided on a democratic basis within the territory. This is what the basic British policy had been before Mr. Clinton's thinly disguised exercise in ethnic pandering. The IRA clearly does not accept this. The conflict remains deep-seated, yet the Clinton administration continually claims to have helped the prospects for peace in Northern Ireland.

WILLIAM PARKER

Fairfax

Little danger in dry cleaning chemical

To suggest that dry cleaners are unsafe, as Henry S. Cole did in his Sept. 10 Commentary piece ("Dry cleaning the regulations,") does a great disservice to the tens of thousands of environmentally and safety conscious dry cleaners in the United States.

As the chief executive officer of the national and international association for dry cleaners, wet cleaners and launderers, I would like to set the record straight about some of the inflammatory remarks Mr. Cole made about perchloroethelyne (perc), the primary solvent used in dry cleaning to clean clothes.

While there has been much debate about the toxicity of perc, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's official classification on perc is as a possible human carcinogen, just like gasoline, and just as saccharin was before it was finally cleared. Additionally, the EPA's science advisory board comprised of some of the foremost scientists and toxicologists in the country has stated that the limited testing evidence about perc's effect on animals does not warrant it being classified differently.

Furthermore, in a comprehensive study done by the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, dry cleaning workers who were known to be exposed only to perc did not have any increased risk of cancer. Based on this and other evidence, we believe that the best available scientific information indicates that perc is unlikely to be a human carcinogen. Nevertheless, our industry is committed to using perc as safely and efficiently as possible. In fact, we have reduced our consumption of perc by 70 percent over the last 10 years.

Mr. Cole is adept at playing to the fears of the public when he talks about the effects of exposure to perc at elevated levels, and he conveniently forgets to mention that these levels are far above those found in dry cleaning plants. Consumers who go to dry cleaners face no risk of such elevated levels. When you realize that the average consumer goes to a dry cleaning plant twice a week and has less than 1/2,000th the exposure that a dry cleaning plant worker does, it's clear that Mr. Cole is simply pandering.

We share one thing with Mr. Cole: support of alternative cleaning technologies. However, we have done something about it for example, forming the Professional Wet Cleaning Partnership with Greenpeace, and actively encouraging industry members to look at alternatives. In contrast, Mr. Cole's by-any-means-necessary method of winning support for those technologies in the court of public opinion at the expense of thousands of mom-and-pop dry cleaners reputations does more harm than good. Our industry is committed to the health and safety of all of its workers and customers. To imply otherwise grossly misinforms consumers.

WILLIAM E. FISHER

Chief Executive Officer

International Fabricare Institute

Silver Spring

'Me' athletes put ego first

Bravo to Tom Knott and his diatribe to the obnoxious new sports hero ("Me, me, me," Sports, Oct. 4). I grew up watching Al Kaline, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Joe Montana, and Roger Staubach. A long list of true sports heroes played for the love of the game, the money, and the fans probably in that order. And that was OK by me, since their egos were never as important to them as the fans' enjoyment of the game.

Those days are over because of a few fools who are rapidly ruining the fans' enjoyment of the beauty of a well hit ball, the astonishment of an impossible catch, and the joy of watching your team win with grace.

THOMAS PAYNTER

Las Vegas

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