- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Red Cross emblems a matter of circumstance, not religion

In her Dec. 3 Commentary column "Putting myths to rest," Mona Charen writes that the myth of the American Red Cross as a moral beacon "bites the dust" because of its connection with the International Red Cross. "In 1949," she writes, "Israel was denied membership in the International Red Cross because it asked to use a red Star of David instead of the Christian cross as its symbol. Since then, the Red Cross has admitted at least 25 Islamic countries who use the Red Crescent symbol."
The International Red Cross now called the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies began using the Red Crescent in 1875, when the Turkish empire was suppressing a Balkan rebellion. According to Caroline Moorehead's "Dunant's Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross," the Turks chopped off the arms of those wearing Red Cross armbands. The organization adopted the Red Crescent so that its workers could get to those who needed help.
Mrs. Charen also calls the Red Cross a "Christian" symbol. Unlike the Christian cross, however, the Red Cross has four equal arms, as does the Swiss cross. According to "Dunant's Dream," it was adopted for its high visibility and for the reputation for neutrality enjoyed by Switzerland, the home nation of the Red Cross. If the International Red Cross intended to symbolize itself as Christian, why would it use the Red Crescent?

EDWARD STYLES
Alexandria

PA must stop teaching Palestinian children lethal lessons

On Saturday evening, my son, who is studying in Israel, called me from his cell phone. He was panting and screaming as he told me that a bomb had just gone off nearby. I could hear the sirens and shouts in the background as my son spoke in a quivering voice and continued to run from the bombed area.
What my son had witnessed is the result of many years of hate indoctrination by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA). Through textbooks, TV shows and summer camps, the PA teaches schoolchildren venomous hatred and robotic thinking. While Israel teaches its children about peace with neighboring Arabs, the PA provides maps in textbooks that label the area from Jordan to the Mediterranean "Palestine." These textbooks also glorify using explosives to blow up the infidel.
No paper treaty can bring peace if Mr. Arafat's schools and summer camps continue to teach this kind of fanaticism. This indoctrination has already produced thousands of terrorists and suicide bombers instead of doctors and teachers. If Mr. Arafat claims he cannot or will not control the monsters he created, then Israel has a duty to stop him, destroy the terrorist groups and establish an infrastructure so that Israelis and rational Palestinian Arabs can live in true peace.

FREDA GOLDMAN
Baltimore

U.S. must demand reforms before giving aid to Haiti

Contrary to the assertions of Ronald V. Dellums in his Dec. 3 Op-Ed piece, "Haiti's season of misery," Haiti's problems are not the fault of the U.S. government, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the European Community. The fault lies with the regime of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas Family party, which has held power for nearly 10 years.
Some want the United States and the international community simply to write a check to Haiti. Without the benefit of controls, a modicum of transparency and a working political process that ensures accountability, donors might just as well fill out deposit slips for individual Swiss bank accounts. Unless the United States imposes a moratorium on aid, staff at lending and granting institutions cannot recommend disbursement of monies to a shell ministry and vastly dysfunctional governmental apparatus.
The Lavalas operatives know exactly what to do to obtain the release of funds and augment the considerable humanitarian aid currently channeled through nongovernmental organizations. Beyond organizing a truly independent Provisional Electoral Council, as mandated by the Haitian Constitution of 1987, and holding new legislative and municipal elections, salient reforms must include the following:
A prime minister who, in the manner envisaged in the Constitution of 1987, acts as the head of government and interacts with a truly autonomous legislature and independent judiciary;
A police force that works with the population to restore law and order and that works closely with an independent civilian review board;
The abdication of the government's role as franchisor of monopolistic commercial ventures, which will attract meaningful domestic and external investments and align Haiti with contemporary norms of business performance and accountability.
The enactment of autonomous private and public sector authorities to manage the reconstruction of Haiti at all levels and in all sectors.
Without these critical adjustments, no amount of money will correct Haiti's many ills.

YVES SAVAIN
Silver Spring

House bill cheats military voters, says American Legion

Having spent Thanksgiving with U.S. troops near the Korean demilitarized zone, I am highly aware of the need to protect the voting rights of service members assigned overseas. Congress must pass a bill, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard, designed to protect our troops' right to vote. Two key provisions of Mr. Allard's bill are oddly missing from the House version, provisions that close loopholes that can be used to throw out ballots ("House bill weakens military-ballot plan," Dec. 3).
The American Legion supports legislation that would protect service members' residency, so that they may vote in a particular state, and, further, would allow an overseas absentee military ballot to be counted regardless of whether it has a postmark or a notary signature. The Senate version contains these protections, and the House version must adopt them.
Technicalities should not impede service members' right to vote.

RICHARD J. SANTOS
National Commander
The American Legion
Washington

Feminist blinders

Once again Op-ed columnist Suzanne Fields looks at the world through feminist blinders ("The last rites for chivalry," Dec. 3). If women need protection from some men, it is by no means clear that fewer men are damaged by women. After all, about three-quarters of divorces are initiated by women, leading to a male suicide rate that is 10 times that of divorced women.
Apparently, Mrs. Fields doesn't consider it damaging to lose your children and much of your income.

NEIL STEYSKAL
Washington

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