- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Parents gone bad

I very much appreciated the editorial cartoon on Saturday, ironically juxtaposing warnings about video-game violence and the violence parents commit while acquiring the games for their little tykes.

As ludicrous as it may have seemed, the introduction of the PlayStation 3 brought the irony closer to reality than many think. This cartoon did more than poke fun at Christmas shopping gone bad; it brought to light the unfortunate disconnect we see between the passionate campaigns against video-game violence and the ignorant, and sometimes hypocritical (as the comic shows), parents and adults who wage them.

As a 27-year-old gamer, I am often caught between both sides of the fence. On one hand, I agree that the gratuitous violence, sexual content and mature themes common in today’s top-selling mature- and even teen-rated games are getting into the hands of children, and even adults, who shouldn’t have them.

On the other hand, it’s hard blame game creators when stores are openly selling the games to underage children and/or parents are letting their children play them. When are retail outlets going to take a stand in the name of ethical practices instead of succumbing to the allure of a few extra digits in the year-end numbers because they know they won’t be prosecuted?

When are parents going to take responsibility for their bad parenting and stop using the game makers as scapegoats? I guess in a postmodern society where Darwin rules and Christmas is all about getting, it’s a dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-best-shopper mentality at the checkout line to get little Timmy and Susie the latest and greatest because what other meaning of Christmas could there possibly be? Somebody cue Linus.

KEITH WOJCIECH

Vienna

Questions about Iraq Study Group

The Sunday editorial “Hamas on trial (Part II)” stated, in reference to former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, who has advocated that we talk to our enemies, “how delusional it is of the [Iraq Study Group] to think that Hamas would ever accept Israel.”

Obviously Hamas has talked to us plenty of times and told us of its unchanged position. Your editorial also wisely reminded readers that during the 1991 Madrid peace conference “Mr. Baker’s indefatigable diplomatic efforts yielded nothing.” With this being said, I also would like to include my concerns over Mr. Baker’s leadership in the ISG and why we Americans should be talking more about his conflict of interest and qualifications for this job and questioning his appointment to the study group.

First question: Why does America have Mr. Baker act on our behalf when it is obvious he cannot be an honest broker knowing that his firm’s biggest client is Saudi Arabia and that 15 of the 19 terrorists who attacked us on September 11 were Saudi nationalists?

Second question: Who nominated the Jim Baker-Lee Hamilton team and the others for the ISG? They were not democratically elected by the American people to represent us. Also, not one of them has any military experience.

I thought during wartime our president is supposed to take his advice from our generals and congressional leaders who are appointed and elected by the America people and who represent the will of the people, not Saudi Arabia. Therefore, more players hereshould be on trial than Hamas.

Third question: Why is a so-called world power like America taking orders from Syria, Russia and Iran — and at the expense of our more democratic ally, Israel?

What kind of foreign policy is this? Have we overlooked the fact that one of the U.S. advisers is Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man who during the recent Hezbollah-Israeli war was supplying rockets and other weapons to Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Syria, some of which ended up killing American soldiers, our allies’ soldiers and civilians?

Also, Mr. Putin is a man who has been accused of poisoning or assassinating anyone in his country who disagrees with him; much as Syria has been assassinating its Lebanese Arab Christian leaders. Are these the kind of people with whom we form alliances? At least our enemies tell us the truth. They tell us they want to wipe us off the map and kill us.

Instead of talking to our enemies, I think we have to talk to each other first and sort out the reckless way we select people to handle our direst security matters. Any competent attorney would see a clear conflict of interest here with Mr. Baker in charge of the ISG. More is on trial here than Hamas, and it would be delusional for us to accept Mr. Baker’s proposals.

BARBARA A. BLOOM

President

Peace Through Torah Truth Inc.

Owings Mills, Md.

Hezbollah, briefly

The brief item “Report: Hezbollah used human shields” (Briefing/Middle East, Dec. 6) says a study by “an Isaeli think tank with ties to the military has compiled a dossier of video and testimony accusing Lebanese guerrillas of using civilians as human shields in their summer war with Israel.” The item separately claims that “Israeli aircraft and artillery killed more than 850 Lebanese, most of them civilians, during the 34-day conflict with Hezbollah guerrillas” and notes that “Lebanon, a U.N. human rights agency and international rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes.”

However, the news brief does not include what Associated Press said on the same day about the same study by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: “The 300-page report … argues that Lebanese government and news media reports exaggerated the number of civilians killed in Lebanon … The report, citing Israeli military intelligence, says at least 450 and as many as 650 of the Lebanese killed were Hezbollah operatives.”

It may well have been in last summer’s war between Hezbollah and Israel that the majority of Lebanese killed were not civilians but Hezbollah combatants illegally hiding among civilians. Strange, for a newspaper whose Arab-Israeli coverage usually displays better balance, but the brief reads as if it were edited from wire service copy so readers would not learn about of one of the study’s key points, one that contradicts Hezbollah’s assiduous media manipulation.

ERIC ROZENMAN

Washington director

Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

Washington

The Balfour Declaration

The Dec. 5 letter “Israel and its neighbors” states that “the case of Israel was one of a U.N. assignment of territory chiefly because of the way the Jews were treated by Germany’s Third Reich.” However, Britain first laid out the plan for this “assignment” about 30 years earlier in the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Even more curious is the discussion of the area the United Nations chose for this assignment: “The logical choice was the Jewish people’s ancient homeland between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”

If we’re to believe that the United Nations’ choice was made chiefly because of the way the Jews were treated by the Germans, wouldn’t logic dictate that the surrendered land come from the Germans? Weren’t they the oppressors?

The letter finishes with an even greater curiosity, which contends that the indigenous people “were given an equal opportunity by the United Nations to occupy about half of Transjordan.” The reality? The body of the general population of the region who simply fled in the face of war were denied one of the most basic rights put forth by the United Nations in Resolution 1-94: the right of return to their property. It should be noted that the oppressors (the Germans) were allowed to return to their lands after the war.

This letter does prove one thing: Those who chastise others’ views of history should get their own facts straight first.

WILLIAM WILSON

Gaithersburg

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