- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2002

Mounting trouble in Israel

I find it difficult to understand the argument against Joel Himelfarb's July 5 Op-Ed column ("Misreporting Israel's war") proposed by Charles W. McCutcheon ("Anti-anti-Israeli bias," Letters, Thursday). Is it based on sheer ignorance or willful bias?
Mr. McCutcheon claims the second intifada erupted after Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount. Actually, Mr. Sharon's visit was only an excuse to validate and intensify an intifada that already was under way.
Second, he claims that the Temple Mount is holy to Muslims without mentioning its holiness to Jews. The name itself proclaims it to be the site of the first and second Jewish temples. During his visit, Mr. Sharon did not deny Muslims access to the site or hamper their ability to conduct religious services on it. He merely emphasized that there is also a Jewish claim to the Mount, as any archaeologist knows, as well as anyone who has read the Bible or even casually studied Roman history.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in all of Israel to Jews. To criticize a walk there because Mr. Sharon is a Jew is the height of intolerance. Why such arrogance and intolerance by some Muslims is acceptable in a tolerant Western society, as it apparently is to Mr. McCutcheon, is hard to comprehend.
In answer to Mr. McCutcheon's assertion, I note that ascribing the intifada to Mr. Sharon's walk on the Temple Mount is a standard misreporting practice of those with an anti-Israeli bias. I believe even the Palestinians are no longer seriously propagating that canard.

BERNARD EHRLICH
Laurel

Dollar declining from artificial high may boost economy

Front-page coverage of the dollar's recent change in global currency markets glossed over the benefits of the trend and almost completely ignored its root causes ("Decline of the dollar takes toll on investors," July 1).

As President Bush made clear at the G8 meeting in Canada, "The dollar will seek its level based upon market forces and based on whether or not our country can rein in spending, can recover and can revitalize our manufacturing base."

This is exactly what America's business and labor leaders have been seeking an end to the previous "strong" dollar policy that put an artificial floor under the currency and kept it from reaching a level justified by economic fundamentals. It is particularly significant that the president singled out the revitalization of the U.S. manufacturing base as a priority, as our exporters have suffered disproportionate (and massive) losses of sales and jobs directly because of a global playing field that has been tilted in currency exchange.

Though some appreciation was understandable after the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the dollar continued to rise long after the crisis had abated. This trend continued after even economic fundamentals such as U.S. economic growth, foreign investment inflows, stock-market appreciation, interest rates and the trade deficit all indicated the dollar should have returned to more normal levels.

Clearly, a correction is long overdue, and there's no better setting than the current economic climate of low inflation, low interest rates and less-than-full employment. Instead of fretting, we should be thankful that the change has been orderly and gradual and that the net effect will be increased exports and economic growth and not a crash of any kind.


JERRY JASINOWSKI

President

National Association of Manufacturers

Washington

Kurdled article

The article "Kurds cautious on independence" (World, Wednesday) distorts the facts about Turkey's Kurdish population.

First, Ozdem Sanberk, retired Turkish ambassador and the current director of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, was not the spokesman for Turkey at the reported conference. Mr. Sanberk underlined this fact at the outset of his remarks.

Second, Mr. Sanberk did not "insist" that "Turkey protects its own Kurds," as misinterpreted in the article. Mr. Sanberk's remarks were, verbatim:

"Our understanding of nationality is based on citizenship rather than ethnicity. Turkey is a democratic country in which everybody has a single vote. We are proud of our Turkish nationals of Kurdish origin who always had served in Turkish parliament and in the government since the establishment of the Turkish Republic."

As for the statement that Abdullah Ocalan was a "Kurdish leader who led a 15-year battle for autonomy in eastern Turkey" and "did not even know his own language," it is wrong on both counts.

Ocalan has only led the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a most brutal terrorist organization whose bloody campaign has cost Turkey more than 30,000 lives, mostly Kurdish. The PKK has been listed consistently by the State Department as an international terrorist organization, a label finally confirmed this year by the European Union as well.

That Ocalan does not speak Kurdish must be mainly because his mother is Turkish and he enjoyed the privilege of a publicly paid college education at one of Turkey's most prestigious universities.


GULER KOKNAR

Executive director

Assembly of Turkish American Associations

Washington

Shriver makes it tough for Marylanders to fire back

Maryland Delegate Mark K. Shriver is correct when he says his record is unblemished when it comes to gun control especially gun control when it pertains to law-abiding citizens ("Shriver defends his gun control record," Letters, Thursday). Yet, while Maryland has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, they seem to have had little positive effect on the state's violent crime rates, according to the Rothstein Catalog on Disaster Recovery.

In 2000, Maryland had an estimated population of almost 5.3 million, making it the 19th most populous state. Its total crime index (4,816.1 reported incidents per 100,000 people) is the 12th-highest in the nation. Its violent crime rate (786.6 reported incidents per 100,000 people) is the third-highest. Its murder rate (8.1 per 100,000 people, 430 in all) also is the third-highest. With 493.3 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents, Maryland ranks fifth.

On the other hand, the most heinous violent crime, murder, is much less common in states with conceal-and-carry laws for example, Virginia (5.7 murders per 100,000), Pennsylvania (4.9) and Florida (5.6). That's pretty good compared to Maryland and another bastion of safety, the District, which has the nation's strictest gun control and a murder rate of 41.8 per 100,000.

The Mark Shrivers of the country predicted that there would be a bloodbath with the advent of conceal-and-carry laws, which 31 states have. Of course, it never happened. Crime in those states is going down steadily because the bad guys don't know who can defend himself and who is easy pickings. Unfortunately, we subjects of Maryland are easy pickings.


BUTCH KOLICH

St. Leonard, Md.




From reading Mark Shriver's letter, I conclude that he is unaware of the practice of inflating the numbers of "children" killed by guns by including young victims of crime, particularly involving drugs. (By the way, Maryland's attorney general cites such skewed statistics.) Innocent children are harmed by firearms less often. They are in greater danger from bathtubs and bicycles than firearms.

Those "child" deaths cited by Mr. Shriver are more a result of the drug trade and crime than a lack of gun control. If the drug and crime problems were solved, the statistics Mr. Shriver finds so disturbing would go down, gun control notwithstanding. Because Mr. Shriver does not appear to want to address the issue honestly, a reasonable person can only conclude he uses the gun issue as a fear tactic to further his chances for election to public office.


NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

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