- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

It’s all in the headline

There is a huge problem with the story by Nidal al-Mughrabi “Military raid leaves 7 dead in Gaza Strip” (World, Saturday). The article, with its accompanying photo, appears designed to evoke sympathy for Palestinians and denigration of Israel. The report’s headline provides no inkling of why seven were killed, but conveys an image that Israel wantonly invaded Gaza and killed Palestinians.

The story de-emphasizes the reason for the thrust of Israeli forces into Gaza, namely that the Palestinians have been digging tunnels under the Gaza-Egyptian border to smuggle weapons and explosives into Gaza. Israel was trying to destroy these tunnels. Palestinian terrorists were defending these tunnels and were killed in the process. However, contrary to the headline, the article emphasizes political problems within the Palestinian Authority. This article is biased against Israel and avoids the significance of the possibility of Palestinian smuggling of weapons into Gaza, including anti-aircraft missiles.

A random search of Internet Web sites found that most news outlets, including one Arab outlet, correctly reported the reason for the Israeli action. The Associated Press was identified as the source of the photo, but its Web site headline was different. Other news outlets headlined the story as follows:

“Six die as Israelis seek tunnels” — London Guardian

“Israel raid targets tunnels in a Gaza refugee camp” — Associated Press

“Israel Attacks ‘Smuggling Tunnels’ to Bar Palestinians from Getting Anti-Aircraft Missiles” — Jordanian Web Site: www.jormall.com

“Israel goes after tunnels at refugee camps in Gaza”— Ventura County Star

A bigger issue might be the suspected complicity of Egypt. I suggest that The Washington Times investigate and report on Egyptian complicity in assisting the Palestinians. It is difficult to believe that vast quantities of weapons and explosives are transiting Egyptian territory to the border with Israel without the knowledge of the government. It is even more difficult to believe that huge tunnels, some more than 50 feet deep and 100 feet in length, can be excavated under the border without Egyptian cooperation and provision of heavy excavation equipment.


Potomac, Md.4

Dial ‘S’ for sell?

Peter Ferrara’s column “Piling on MCI” (Commentary, Saturday) has several flaws. First, if MCI were sold off, most of the employees would be retained because it is they who have the critical knowledge to continue running the network services they have been running for years. The new owner of whatever spinoff portion was bought would never fire those folks.

Mr. Ferrara also mentions that the whole corporate leadership board has been replaced. What would you expect? This was the largest corporate fraud case in the history of the United States. Still further, he says millions of consumers would lose their preferred service, when in fact they would not lose one minute of service. They would still keep their preferred network choice.

The column also claims that the MCI division UUNET carries 50 percent of all of the world’s Internet traffic. The fact is that UUNET’s business is 80 percent dial-up service and accounts for just 28 percent of services provided the world, according to memos at AT&T, where I work. Mr. Ferrara says MCI provides communications services to almost every government agency, including the nation’s defense agencies. Well, those exact agencies are being overcharged, which means taxpayers across the country are footing the bill. Shame on MCI.

Finally, the column never mentions all of the investors who lost their life savings on a company that still retains the same middle management it has had for years and that is as guilty of corruption as the “ivory tower” of WorldCom.


Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Mistaken identity

Monday’s editorial “The twisted Red Cross” criticizes the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for its recent public comments about the treatment of detainees by the U.S. government in Guantanamo and incorrectly infers the involvement of the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross is not a party to the ongoing dispute between the ICRC and the U.S. government concerning the Guantanamo matter.

The Switzerland-based ICRC acts as an independent guardian of the Geneva Conventions. The mission of the American Red Cross is to help communities prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Your comments do great and undeserved damage to the American Red Cross, as we struggle to provide assistance to Americans in need of relief.


Senior vice president

Communication and marketing

Red Cross


Reviewing history

As the immediate past president of the Virginia Board of Education, I write to clarify a statement contained in an otherwise fine article by George Archibald (“District flunks history study; Virginia and Maryland pass,” Nation, Oct. 8).

The article, reporting on the most recent Thomas B. Fordham Institute study of states’ history standards, noted that Virginia’s history standards were ranked seventh-best nationally and were described as “very good.” Later in the piece, though, the writer noted a statement in the Fordham review that said Virginia’s 1995 standards were “one of the best frameworks in the nation,” but that the 2001 revision was less historically substantive.

We certainly agree that our 1995 history-standards framework was one of the best in the nation. We also strongly believe, however, that our 2001 revision made those standards even better, with more substantive content added, for example, on such important topics as the development and principles of the U.S. Constitution and the role played by America’s veterans in defending our freedom during the Cold War. So, it is important to note the following facts relevant to the Fordham statement quoted by your story:

When the Virginia Board of Education revised its history standards in 2001, we expanded the standards document into a far more comprehensivecurriculum framework. Nearly three-fourths of the actual substantive historical content was placed into this more comprehensive document, which is the curriculum framework actually used in our classrooms. Unfortunately — and, I’m sure, not intentionally — the Fordham reviewer did not review the entire Virginia history curriculum framework, and thus was not aware of most of the historical content that is, in fact, included in the 2001 Virginia history standards. When I called this oversight to the attention of the Fordham Institute, it graciously agreed to add an editor’s note to its Virginia review.

The commonwealth that produced George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson (all featured extensively in our history curriculum framework) is proud that our history standards curriculum framework is the best in the nation. Readers can see our history curriculum framework for themselves at www.pen.k12.va.us.


Immediate past president

Virginia Board of Education

Ashland, Va.

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