- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2002

Souring a 'special relationship'

As an Englishman, I concur with Benjamin P. Tyree's assessment of U.S. and British relationships as they presently stand ("International attitude adjustments," Commentary, yesterday). I do not know exactly who or what gave birth to our nations' "special relationship," but many of my countrymen are concerned when our government's (hence, its people's) foreign policy is subsumed by that of the United States.

While many of your people, fearing trans-Atlantic jet travel in general, are loathe now to visit us since September 11, your policy over Iraq and proposition for war is making life dangerous and miserable for ordinary people over here. We do not wish to be the frontline for any retaliation against American belligerence. It took a long and miserable time to recover from two world wars.

If Americans want to follow President Bush in his Iraqi venture, please go into your Gehenna alone and good luck. But leave us Englishmen to create, in our own tin-pot way, a more peaceful and united Europe.


JOHN G. WESTON

Taunton, Somerset

Great Britain

Egypt defends racy show

We are genuinely puzzled by the fuss being made over a dramatic TV series, "Horse Without a Horseman" ("'Elders of Zion' show begins airing tonight," World, Tuesday). Israeli and Jewish organizations claim that this series is based on the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." According to a letter from Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham H. Foxman to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, the series is designed to propagate "incitement to racial and religious hatred and anti-Semitic stereotyping" and to teach "the next generation that demonizing a religion is an acceptable way to express political opinions."

As to these and other claims, for the sake of accuracy we wish to emphasize the following points:

• Prejudging a work of art before watching it is immature and unintelligent. "Horse Without a Horseman" can be judged only after being broadcast. To prejudge it is to engage in a kind of intellectual and emotional terrorism that stands in sharp contradiction to artistic license.

• Whenever we evaluate any work of art, we have to take into account that the state cannot and should not put restrictions on artistic creativity. Freedom of expression, whether based in fact or fiction, is a basic human right.

• The dramatic series in question has been produced and funded by a private Egyptian TV channel. Although the Egyptian Radio and TV Union owns 10 percent of the channel's shares, it obviously has no control over its editorial and production policies.

• During its long history, Egyptian media, art and culture never have adopted a hostile attitude toward any religion or creed. History shows that Egypt always has been a melting pot of civilizations and cultures, and its people always have been blessed with tolerance and a zeal for coexistence with other peoples, regardless of their religion.

• The Egyptian media, as information minister Safwat El-Sherif has stressed, respects all religions and will not allow or encourage any desecration of religious beliefs and sanctities. At the same time, Egypt does not and will not accept any intellectual terrorism that aims at stifling freedom of expression. This is a luxury Egypt cannot afford. Any encroachment on such a freedom is a violation of and a departure from basic democratic values that we share with mankind at large. We should not be expected to make an exception in this case.

• There is not a grain of truth in the claims by those who have not yet viewed "Horse Without a Horseman" that the series promotes anti-Semitism. According to those who have previewed the series, it is a fictitious drama and not based on the so-called "Protocols." Rather, a number of its episodes deal with the role of the Zionist movement in establishing a Jewish "homeland" and the plight of the Palestinian people undeniable historical facts. The same facts have been the theme of several other TV shows and movies through the years. Some have been American and European productions. Hence, has anyone the divine right of accusing screenwriters, directors and producers of such productions of being anti-Semitic and meanwhile respecting their artistic creativity? Indeed, such attempts to stifle such creativity do not augur well for spreading a culture of peace, amity and tolerance.

In short, it is neither acceptable nor reasonable to selectively heap accusations of anti-Semitism upon artists simply because they sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and, thus, are critical of Israeli policies and practices.


NABIL OSMAN

Chairman

State Information Service

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Washington

Coast Guard's multifaceted mission

Michael F. McCarthy has little understanding of the Coast Guard's roles (note plural) ("Whom is the Coast Guard protecting?" Letters, Thursday).

As one of the five branches of the armed forces, protecting our country is first and foremost among the Coast Guard's many duties. As a law enforcement entity, one of its responsibilities is to interdict those who are breaking the laws of the United States, and to do that as far offshore as practical so as to reduce the chances for success of smugglers of people (illegal migrants) or illicit cargo (cocaine and marijuana).

The "material aid" that Mr. McCarthy cites is simply humanitarian, limited to rescuing those who are in peril on the seas, and providing food and shelter for those rescued until they are evaluated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and either returned to their country of origin or allowed to be brought into the United States under provisions of existing law or regulation.

Finally, the Customs Service has never shot down any drug smuggling aircraft. Neither it nor the Coast Guard has authorization to do so.


VICE ADM. HOWARD B. THORSEN

Coast Guard (retired)

Alexandria

The problems with limiting lawsuits

Limiting lawsuits or the amount that an injured person may recover is a simple-minded idea proffered by doctors, big business and other "tort reformers." It is an idea put forth by insurance companies solely to line the pockets of their executives and major shareholders with obscene "profits."

Unfortunately, President Bush appears to have been taken in by this group ("Bush slams 'junk and frivolous' suits," Nation, Aug. 8).

In California, for example, compensation for pain and suffering caused by a doctor's blundering has been limited to a maximum of $250,000 since 1975. This limit has never been increased, not even for inflation. Furthermore, unbiased government records prove that the number of personal injury lawsuits filed in California has actually dropped by 30 percent over the past 10 years.

The insurance companies were the only beneficiaries of the artificial limit placed on pain and suffering. Medical insurance bills have not gone down. Doctors' malpractice insurance premiums have not decreased. Bad medicine is still causing catastrophic injury and death.

Insurance company profits, re-insurance, underwriting abuse, losses in the stock market and the increased costs of medical care are the causes of escalating insurance premiums. Yet, insurance companies still blame the trial lawyers as an excuse to misinform the public and support grossly higher premiums.

When will misinformed doctors and legislators (and presidents) stop their simplistic regurgitation of the tort reform propaganda? The evidence is in front of them: Limits on lawsuits don't work.


PETER TIMEWELL

Auburn, Calif.


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