- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2003

Shielding terrorists

Michael F. Brown, executive director of Partners for Peace (“Revolting, untruthful column,” Letters, yesterday), calls former Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval’s column (“Human shields,” Op-Ed, June 4) “libelous” because of what Mr. Shoval said about the International Solidarity Movement and the death of Rachel Corrie and the injury to Tom Hurndall.

Mr. Brown completely ignores the fact that Israel under Prime Minister Ehud Barak was quite willing to give up almost all of Judea and Samaria and Gaza to Yasser Arafat and that Mr. Arafat turned him down.

Mr. Brown ignores the fact that Mr. Arafat does not want peace. He wants to destroy utterly and totally the state of Israel and the Jews in it. To that end, Mr. Arafat launched his little terrorist war against Israel. Mr. Brown ignores the fact that this is Nazism by another name.

President Bush has said that when it comes to terrorism, you are either with us or against us. If people like Ms. Corrie and Mr. Hurndall want to stand in harm’s way to defend terrorist Nazis, then they stand with those terrorists. If harm befalls them, so be it.

When it comes to defending its citizens against terrorism and Nazism, Israel has no need to make excuses to the likes of Mr. Brown.

JACK RUTNER

Silver Spring

Reasons for war

Mona Charen (“WMD multiple choice,” Commentary, Wednesday) seems to forget that the Bush administration has had several positions on going to war in Iraq.

First, it connected Iraq to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Then there was Iraq’s cooperation with Osama bin Laden. The third machination was the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

And now, the administration claims that the war’s aim was to free the Iraqi people so peace will flourish through the Middle East.

I, like many people, hope that the president was right and that we do indeed find WMDs in Iraq, because that would go a long way in restoring American credibility around the world. And I, like many around the country, think that it’s great that the Iraqi people are free from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. But, when our government repeatedly changes its stated reasons for attacking Iraq, it is our duty as Americans to question why those reasons constantly change.

Thomas Henry Huxley once said that “…skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”

Let us sin no more.

ANDRE E. WOODSON

Linden, N.J.

Sanctity of life

The war to preserve the God-given right to life has won another battle in the U.S. House of Representatives. I applaud those who were brave enough to vote for the termination of the partial-birth procedure.

Those who voice their support for this gruesome procedure against a totally defenseless child are the same people who opposed the war in Iraq, where hundreds, if not thousands, have been murdered and tortured. Still, they have no compassion toward a child with fingers, toes, arms, legs and, yes, a brain that reacts to its surroundings — meaning it is alive.

Any nation that embraces the killing of its unborn children is a nation that is greedy, selfish and barbaric. It is a nation that will cease to exist.

The Aztec nation was a nation that engaged in the practice of killing of its children. At least the child was allowed to be born before being put to death. The Aztecs are no longer around. Get the point?

FRED STICKLER

Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Slavophobia

I am a 22-year-old university student studying to become a documentarian, and it was inspiring to see such an underrepresented subject as the discrimination against and hatred of Slavic people being explored in The Washington Times (“Acute Slavophobia,” Commentary, June 1).

Jeffrey Kuhner is obviously a journalist of integrity and has a deep passion for revealing the truth. This is a rarity in his profession, as mistruths are often reported over and over by those who work more like sheep than journalists.

If Mr. Kuhner would like to explore the subject further, he could also research the Bleiburg massacre of 1945, in which an estimated 250,000 Croatian refugees, soldiers and civilians were slaughtered by Tito’s Yugoslav partisans. Croatians are a (conveniently) forgotten nation when it comes to such subjects.

I cannot thank Mr. Kuhner enough for his bravery and dignity. He brings to your newspaper a voice that fights to reveal the truth, in turn giving back a light of hope to those nations that have been unfairly affected by this problem for over half a century.

BRENDA BRKUSIC

Orange, Calif.

The right to clean air

Unfortunately, Adrienne T. Washington’s column (“After smokers, who will Big Brother target next?” Metropolitan, Tuesday) mischaracterizes efforts to protect restaurant workers and patrons from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Contrary to Ms. Washington’s assertions, smoking in public areas is not about enforcing preferred personal behavior or exercising personal responsibility — it’s about public health. States such as Delaware, New York and California, along with more than 100 local municipalities, have recognized this fact.

Smokers don’t have a “right” to light a cigarette when the smoke reaches others who don’t wish to breathe in deadly toxins. In fact, the introduction of an ordinance creating smoke-free restaurants is consistent with the charge of all democratic governments — to protect the health and well-being of their citizens.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in Maryland, responsible for 24 percent of all deaths. A report recently released by the American Cancer Society projects that, of an estimated 10,200 cancer deaths in Maryland this year, nearly 30 percent (2,900) will be from lung cancer. Given these statistics, it would be irresponsible for our elected officials to shirk their responsibilities by ignoring this opportunity to help save lives.

Ms. Washington’s assertion that “small neighborhood hangouts with a well-established clientele will be hard hit economically”simply is untrue. All independent studies in locales that have enacted smoke-free ordinances, including California and cities in Colorado and Texas, have consistently shown the opposite: Business does not drop as a result of smoke-free public places; in fact, it sometimes increases.

The author also suggests that while smokers have no options, nonsmokers can opt to dine in only smoke-free establishments. Nonsmokers shouldn’t be penalized and forced to retreat to establishments scattered across our region. Rather, Montgomery County should follow the method in place in California for more than 10 years, where smokers and nonsmokers get along quite well and businesses are successful — smokers simply step outside for a smoke.

Other life-saving laws have been enacted despite initial skepticism — such as seat belt laws and restrictions on open containers of alcohol in cars. Each of these situations required changing “norms” and behaviors to which we were accustomed. Over time, however, the wisdom of those policies became clear.

As is often the case with new initiatives, it may take time to fully appreciate the benefits of smoke-free restaurants, but I urge Montgomery County lawmakers to favorably consider this measure and to do all they can to protect the health of our citizens.

LIZA FUES

American Cancer Society volunteer

Bethesda

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