- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

Ashcroft will be welcome addition to Bush administration

President-elect George W. Bush's announcement that Sen. John Ashcroft will be our next attorney general is a true breath of fresh air.
Those who have had the privilege of meeting him know that Mr. Ashcroft is one of the finest men in national elected office. His refusal to contest the irregular election of his deceased "opponent," Mel Carnahan, speaks volumes about his character, especially when compared to the legalistic, divisive election fiasco brought on by Vice President Al Gore.
I am thrilled that Mr. Ashcroft will continue to serve America. I also am enchanted that the position of attorney general finally, after eight long years, will be occupied by someone who reveres the rule of law.
Professor of law
George Mason University

Culture dearth on Washington Times Web site

I read The Washington Times on your Web site. When I click on your arts page, I am dismayed to see that "arts" includes new popular films, an occasional play and rock 'n' roll shows not literature, museum exhibits, opera or symphony concerts. Under entertainment, a reference to a comeback by "Caruso" leads me to an article on an actor rather than a retrospective on the career of the great opera singer.
Your ample on-line coverage of pop culture is inconsistent with The Washington Times' conservative politics. Surely a paper that bills itself as "conservative" should have more respect for the traditional meaning of "arts." Your Web site could lead the way in coverage of the many truly artistic events and exhibitions in the Washington area. Why have you no classical music critic, art critic or book section on your Web site? What opportunities are wasted.
New York

Comparing Palestinians to Nazis inappropriate

I am amazed that The Washington Times published Don Feder's ultra-hardline Commentary column on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ("Hazards of appeasement," Dec. 22).
Comparing the al-Aqsa intifada to the Kristallnacht and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to Adolf Hitler is not only inaccurate, but it insults Jewish history by diluting the magnitude of those events. Not every enemy of Israel is necessarily Hitler.
Hitler's Nazi Germany was one of the best equipped and technologically advanced military dictatorships in world history. Moreover, Hitler was in a position of power vis-a-vis the Jews. In contrast, the Palestinians are lightly armed, if at all, and are in a position of weakness compared to the Israelis.
Furthermore, labeling all Palestinians as "terrorists" is insulting, inaccurate and ignorant.
Irrational, hawkish and bellicose journalists such as Mr. Feder are the obstacles to peace that more rationally minded Israelis and Palestinians must overcome.

Palestinian refugees shouldn't be forgotten in hurried peace

In the latest "sprint" for peace, the Americans and Israelis are talking about unprecedented compromises. The Clinton administration, on its way out, is trying to secure its place in history as a peace broker. The current Israeli leadership, on the other hand, is trying to promote a solution as a last-ditch effort to save its own neck in the approaching election.
It seems ambitious for both governments to attempt such a feat in such a brief period of time when they have been collaborating for the past 52 years in subduing and alienating the Palestinian people. How seriously should one take the Clinton administration when, throughout its tenure, it did nothing to stop the expansion of Israeli settlements on illegally occupied land? In fact, U.S. aid to Israel increased in that period to pay for the so-called "bypass roads," which destroy Palestinian land to maintain a viable link between these settlements and the rest of Israel. How seriously should one take the government of Ehud Barak when, in the past two years, it carried on the same uncompromising policies that led to the explosion of desperation we are witnessing today?
Every proposal put forth by the Israelis and their benefactors, starting with the British and continuing with the Americans, has been worse for the Palestinians than the previous one. The current proposal is the most sinister of all. In exchange for some territorial compromises in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the Israelis want the Palestinians to relinquish their right of return to the land from which they were expelled in 1948. The 750,000 refugees living under appalling conditions in neighboring Arab countries has grown to 3.2 million. Israel wants these refugees to turn into thin air. Meanwhile, the Israelis will not leave a stone unturned to bring more Jews from any part of the world to the very same land from which these refugees were expelled.
No one has the right to negotiate on behalf of displaced refugees. They are protected under international law. U.N. resolutions constantly have reaffirmed the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. If a departing U.S. administration and a sinking Israeli one muscle a deal out of an ailing Palestinian leader, denying the Palestinians their right of return, they will be re-enforcing the injustices that successive Palestinian generations will continue to battle.
New York
Israel is working frantically to do everything in its might to deny Palestinians their basic right to return to their own land.
According to Israeli Absorption Minister Yuli Tamir, "What is vital for us is to obtain the most important thing, the renunciation by the Palestinians of the right of return of refugees to territory under Israeli sovereignty."
Perhaps now, more than ever, Israelis should ponder the words uttered by the father of their nation, David Ben-Gurion.
Just before he died in 1973, Mr. Ben-Gurion said: "[Israel] is two things. An ark and a covenant. There are some who see Israel's importance primarily as an ark, a place where the persecuted can go. I think the covenant takes precedence over the concept of refuge. Israel cannot just be a refuge. If it is to survive as a valid nation, it has to be much, much more."
That "much more" is a nation that fulfills its promise as a land of justice.
Wayne, Pa.

Popular vote

I strongly support the Dec. 18 letter from Scott E. Huch that explains the irrelevance of the popular vote in the presidential election ("Electoral votes allow protest votes").
An additional point that he didn't make is that absentee ballots are not counted in most states unless an election is close (as they were in Florida and New Mexico).
Thus, most absentee votes are never even represented in the popular-vote totals.
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