The Islamist onslaught
There are eddies and there are tides, and a powerful element of Islamic culture is tidal ("Divorce, Palestinian style," Commentary, Saturday). We would like to believe that U.S. policy, or U.N. action, or even more economic aid will turn the Islamic world toward representative government and adherence to fundamental human rights. But these are only eddies in the face of a tidal wave of passion for a theocratic empire in many countries.
It would be wrong for the Western democracies to disengage from this struggle, but it will be from within the wave itself (adherents to Islam) that the direction will be set, whether the wave breaks against the wall of a human yearning for liberty, or washes over much of the world. The impetus for change must come from strong (even self-sacrificing) Islamic voices. When we find these voices we should help and not abandon them when the going gets tough. In the meantime, we may need the occasional Charles Martel to beat back the onslaught.
THOMAS M. DORAN
The U.N.'s anti-Israel bias
The article on the United Nations Human Rights Council ("U.N. council halts permanent probes of Cuba, Belarus," Page 1, Tuesday) rightly criticized the supposedly reformed body for abolishing the independent investigations on the dire human-rights situations in Cuba and Belarus.
It failed to mention, however, the reinstitution of the notorious anti-Israel agenda item of its discredited predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. The new Item 7 on the council's permanent agenda singles out Israel for selective and discriminatory treatment, while granting the violators exculpatory immunity. Regrettably, this discriminatory and one-sided approach on Israel has become not the exception but the norm. So far, the new council has held three special sessions and passed 11 resolutions against Israel, while failing to condemn any other of the 191 countries of the world.
Astonishingly, Canada's attempt to vote against the reform package was denied by council president Luis Alfonso de Alba and his colleagues. Only at the United Nations, it seems, can consensus be achieved without consent.
That the West managed to rescue some of the key mechanisms established under the commission is important, but hardly a victory to be proud of certainly not for a body that High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour heralded as the dawn of a new era.
HILLEL C. NEUER
United Nations Watch
The stem-cell debate
Soldiers give their lives in war to protect our society. Why not also think of embryonic stem cells as soldiers whose "lives" are given in another type of war to protect American society ("Bush vetoes stem-cell funding," Nation, yesterday)?
"Lives?" These cells have no human lives and never will. An embryonic stem cell is not even a fetus. It is a cluster of about 150 cells the size of a period at the end of this sentence. They are currently discarded anyway. Why do President Bush and the Republicans think it is more moral to wash stem cells down a drain than to use them to help save and improve millions of American lives? You and I have lives; embryonic stem cells do not.
You will get sick. I will get sick. Our loved ones will get sick. The health of our nation is another type of war, and by refusing to build an army to protect our nation, Republicans are in effect aiding the enemy. Remember, as you someday lay on your hospital bed or next to your loved one's bed, who caused so much unnecessary suffering.
I wish to commend President Bush for vetoing legislation to expand federally funded embryonic stem-cell research. The measure would intentionally allow for the creation of a subclass of human beings, to be exploited for research purposes.
On a biological level, the prenatal being is not like any other tissue: It is human, with its own DNA indicating that it has the same fundamental and moral right to life as any other human being.
Amazingly, though embryonic stem-cell experiments have failed to produce a single unqualified, therapeutic success, even in animal models, supporters of the embryonic model continue to laud their unproven and currently unethical methods and ignore the fact that adult stem-cell therapies are being used extensively today in treating diseases.
We must help those who are suffering, but we may not use a good end to justify evil means. Human beings are not raw materials to be exploited or commodities that can be bought and sold. To suggest otherwise is to endorse a macabre interpretation of progress. Any method of genetic manipulation that involves the alteration or destruction of human embryos is nothing more than Frankenstein science. Hence, the cry should be not for an increase in funding for embryonic stem cells but rather for an aggressive expansion of adult stem-cell research.
Support the MEK
Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, and Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, are absolutely correct ("MEK sense," Op-Ed, June 15). To defeat Islamist terrorism, one must aim for the heart, and Tehran for the mullahs is exactly the center of it all.
The Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK) and National Council of Resistance of Iran are our natural allies. The current policy of labeling these democratic organizations as "terrorist" is akin to calling Adolf Hitler in 1944 and informing him of the plot by the members of the anti-Nazi organization the White Rose to assassinate him. When will the State Department finally come to its senses and figure out who are our friends and who are our enemies?
RABBI DANIEL M. ZUCKER
Long Beach, N.Y.
Ratify the LOST
David Ridenour's letter, "Treaty inaccuracies" (Monday), failed to take into account that U.S. fishermen are among the most regulated in the world. Responsible commercial harvesters understand the need for sustainably managed fisheries. The U.S. government has pushed for sustainable fisheries at United Nations meetings, in negotiations for multilateral and bilateral treaties and in development of voluntary plans of action and codes of conduct, all consistent with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
When it is time to encourage our fishing partners in the international community to join us in implementing these treaties and plans for sustainable fisheries, industry groups and governments alike from countries that are our treaty partners question our motives, since we have not joined the treaty that is the foundation upon which all those treaties and plans are based. This denies our fishermen the benefits of a level playing field. We follow the rules and we lack a most convincing element of the argument for why others should follow them as well.
By giving its advice and consent to ratification of the 1982 Convention, the Senate could solve this problem, leading to fairness for our fishers and giving our negotiators a most powerful argument for why our treaty partners should follow the rules.
National Fisheries Institute