- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 5, 2004

Giving undue credit

The overture Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made toward Yasser Arafat in an attempt to revive the Mideast peace process is worth the effort, but our illustrious secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, should have stayed entirely out of it (“Mubarak acts on Mideast crisis,” World, July 29).

By not speaking directly to the PLO leader, Mr. Arafat, Mr. Powell did not violate the official U.S. policy of isolating Mr. Arafat and not negotiating with him, but the secretary’s presence by Mr. Mubarak’s side while he made the phone call to Mr. Arafat asking him to share power with Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia spoke volumes to the entire Arab world.

Egyptian spokesman Maged Abdel Fattah’s account after the Powell-Mubarak meeting, describing the unfortunate phone call as a plea for Mr. Arafat and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia to work together, was indeed unfortunate, for it shows that Mr. Arafat and his violent crew have won again.

Mr. Arafat was being rewarded by signaling to Mr. Mubarak that he was indeed still very much the indispensable leader of the Palestinian people who had to be reckoned with. Above all, Mr. Arafat’s waning power has again been salvaged by none other than the very entity that vowed not to negotiate with terrorists and those who harbor terrorists — the United States.

Unfortunately, this veiled rapprochement toward the PLO leader who blatantly continues to lead the bloodiest intifada yet launched against Israel is reminiscent of Mr. Powell’s first foray into the intricacies of diplomacy — his first visit to Mr. Arafat at the outset of Mideast peace talks to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At that time, as well, Mr. Arafat’s power was waning, and it was hoped that his onetime followers would rise up and finally reject his leadership.

But along came his salvation: Mr. Powell’s visit gave Palestinians the idea that Mr. Arafat is the only leader with whom Israel can negotiate. This did more to resuscitate the fledgling intifada and restore its leader to full authority than any other diplomat’s subsequent visit.

When will Mr. Powell and his acolytes at Foggy Bottom learn to leave Mr. Arafat alone to his own undoing? Or, better still, when will President Bush release Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from his promise not to harm or banish the terrorist leader Mr. Arafat, who is causing so many innocent Israeli deaths?

CARIN SALA

Palm Beach, Fla.

Some spinning statistics

Kevin Jennings’ letter, (“A gentle ear and a helping hand,” July 30) overstated the verbal harassment statistics of homosexual and transgendered students.

I agree that no student should feel unsafe in school. However, when Mr. Jennings states that “more than four out of five such students [lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender] report being verbally harassed,” there seems to be some spin in his statistics. The National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, reported that:”In 2001, 12 percent of students ages 12-18 reported that someone at school had used hate-related words against them.” The report says the 12 percent included 4 percent about race, 3 percent about ethnicity or gender and 1 percent and 2 percent about their religion, disability or sexual orientation.

“Specifically, public schools students were more likely to report exposure to hate words related to their race, ethnicity, or disability,” the report said. The good news is that “as grade level increased, students’ likelihood of being bullied decreased.”

We are talking about four-fifths of less than 1 percent of the school population reporting such harassment, versus 12 percent of the population generally reporting verbal harassment.

RETTA BROWN

Rockville

A medical masquerade

If the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine expects anyone to believe that 5,000 medical doctors are among its members (“Fast-food facts,” Letters, Monday), it should offer some evidence. Remarkably few physicians publicly admit to being members of this People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals-affiliated animal-rights group.

One of the few who does is surgeon Jerry Vlasak, a long-time PCRM spokesman. Last year, he said of medical researchers whose work requires the use of animals: “I don’t think you’d have to kill — assassinate — too many [researchers].” Dr. Vlasak added: “I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million nonhuman lives.” Britain is considering denying Dr. Vlasak entrance to the country because of this and other threats.

Another prominent PCRM doctor is Neal Barnard, president of the PETA Foundation, also known as the Foundation to Support Animal Protection. Dr. Barnard describes parents who feed their children milk as perpetrators of “child abuse,” spins tales of meat addiction and calls cheese “dairy crack.” He also collaborated with violent activists in their effort to shut down a biomedical research firm searching for cancer cures.

Then again, if the rest of PCRM’s physician members are aligned with these indefensible statements, it doesn’t really matter how many of them helped the group masquerade as legitimate medical spokespeople. Drs. Barnard and Vlasak are two too many.

DAVID MARTOSKO

Director of research

Center for Consumer Freedom

Washington

Building reconciliation

Gene Rossides’ well-known anti-Turkish views do not come as a surprise (“Tear down the Green Line,” Letters, July 30). The majority of his organization’s policy statements are overtly anti-Turkish.

The following facts and observations serve to set the record straight:

1. It is disingenuous to claim that “the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots was caused and continues to be caused by the Turkish military’s 35,000 troops.”

First of all, the Greek Cypriot-instigated isolation of the Turkish Cypriots has its roots in the 1963-64 attacks on the Turkish Cypriots aimed at enosis (Union of Cyprus with Greece), 10 years before Turkey even appeared on the Cyprus stage as a guarantor state under the 1960 treaties. Thus, Turkey could not have possibly caused the isolation.

2. Turkish troops came to Cyprus in 1974, in response to the preceding aggression by Greece through a coup d’etat, not as invaders or occupiers, but as liberators and protectors of the Turkish Cypriots.

The troops continue to serve as a deterrent against the repetition of violence against the Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriot organizations are again preparing to march to the borders on Aug. 11 in the hope of precipitating violence.

The ultimate aim is to spoil the positive atmosphere created by the Turkish Cypriot acceptance of the U.N. plan for a Cyprus settlement (the Annan plan), which met with strong rejection on the part of the Greek Cypriots.

Mr. Rossides and his organization, rather than spewing anti-Turkish propaganda, would do well to tear down the walls of hatred in their hearts and minds and see how they can help with the search for reconciliation in Cyprus.

OYA BAIN

Capital region vice president

Assembly of Turkish American

Associations

Bethesda

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