- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2002

Anti-family planning column full of holes

Steven Mosher's vehement anti-family planning extremism is well-known, as is his frantic attempts to discredit the humanitarian efforts of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Secretary of State Colin Powell ("Leaky population control," Op-Ed, May 8).

But what kind of decent person would revel in allegations of leaky condoms when the world has an AIDS epidemic on its hands?

Medical and public health experts agree that only education and prevention will stem the tide of AIDS. For sexually active people, this means having access to condoms and knowing how to use them properly. UNFPA plays a vital role in delivering these lifesaving services to the developing world.

UNFPA also helps women in the world's poorest countries to plan and space the number of children they wish to have. It helps to prevent the need for abortion and to deliver healthy babies. It saves thousands of women and children's lives every year. It fights human rights abuses.

This is what Mr. Mosher wants to stop?

In this day and age, how on earth can we take him seriously?


PETER H. KOSTMAYER

President

Population Connection

Washington


The arguments presented by Steven Mosher in his May 8 Op-Ed piece "Leaky population control" bring a new level of absurdity to his longstanding anti-family planning record.

Why would the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), an organization that labors every day in countries across the world to provide reproductive health services, purposefully send defective condoms to Tanzania? This gross mischaracterization of UNFPA and its actions shows just how desperate Mr. Mosher's Population Research Institute (a spinoff of the right-wing Family Life International) is to deny people everywhere access to contraception, even if it will save their lives.


CRISTY IRVIN

Washington

How wise is terrorist rehab?

Let me get this straight: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon goes to Washington with reams of evidence from Operation Defensive Shield that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's security forces are committing terrorism ("Tenet will go to Middle East," May 8).

President Bush reacts by deciding to send CIA Director George Tenet to train Mr. Arafat's security forces to combat terror.

Perhaps our illustrious president should send Mr. Tenet to train al Qaeda to combat terror, as well.


ALAN WEITZMAN

Irvington, N.Y.



Yasser Arafat may have been complicit in suicide attacks against Israel, but it would be silly to contend that every act of terrorism within Israel originates from the pen of the Palestinian leader. Do you really think that Hamas and Islamic Jihad await Mr. Arafat's approval before sending their bombers into Israeli crowds?

I agree that Mr. Arafat has permitted, if not created, an atmosphere within the Palestinian Authority (PA) that nurtures terrorism. But if removing him will not stop the terrorism, he should be left to be the irrelevant figurehead that he is. To invoke the old dilemma: If not Mr. Arafat, then who?

Meanwhile, Israel should follow the lead of President Bush and CIA Director George Tenet and focus its strategy less on Mr. Arafat and more on rehabilitating the infrastructure of the Palestinian regime. Once this is underway, perhaps the PA will be able to produce some viable political alternatives to Mr. Arafat.


STEVE ETZKORN

Columbus, Ohio

Political freedom for Palestine

Your May 8 editorial, "Clinging to Arafat," begins with an accurate statement of the critical stage of affairs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but proposes a merely short-term, half-baked solution.

If there are serious problems with the state of Palestinian politics, and if there are serious problems with Yasser Arafat's role as head of a corrupt and violent administration, does the answer lie as you suggest in removal of the head?

Or should we consider the future more seriously and find ways of fostering true democracy in Palestinian society, which will result in a measure of self-representation? With some self-government, involving elections, civil institutions, free speech and meaningful political action, would not the Palestinian people be provided alternatives to terror?

As soon as self-determination is considered as a serious answer, the prospect of a viable and autonomous Palestinian society strikes fear into those Sharonists and Zionists who believe that the Arabs are theirs to control. The reason for the lack of democratic institutions in Palestine is not Mr. Arafat but the failure of Israel to allow even the smallest degree of political freedom in the occupied territories.


MATTHEW SORENSON

Salt Lake City


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