- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

A realistic road map

The Washington Times is correct in its assessment that the removal of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip as planned by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharonisa”realistic path”(“The Gaza pullback,” Editorial, Wednesday). Though such a move will not induce peace with the Palestinians — indeed, it may fuel an intensity in Arab terror in the short term — the relocation of Jewish residents from Gaza will enable the Israelis to reallocate precious military resources to other, more defensible areas.

However, the world should be very ashamed that it has come to this: 7,500 Jews who would like nothing more than to live with their families in peace in an area slightly larger than twice the size of the District of Columbia instead are under continuous terror and mortar attack by their Palestinian neighbors. Coerced by terrorist thugs and swayed by corrupt leaders, the 1.3 million Arabs in Gaza are, at best, indifferent to the murder and maiming of Jews, even as their best opportunities for employment lie across the border in Israel. Yet international “peace” organizations such as the United Nations funnel funds to the terrorist-supporting Palestinian leadership and periodically bleat about Israel’s “occupation,” despite the fact that Gaza is almost wholly governed (as “governing” is perversely constituted in the Arab world) by the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli Defense Forces posted to Gaza do what they can to minimize the terrorist weapons traffic through Gaza and the attacks against Jews. However, the battle is tough enough against an enemy of overwhelming size and is nearly impossible when supposedly civilized nations in Europe ask, “So why should the Jews live where they’re not wanted?”

Of course, this was a prevalent attitude toward black people in the American South for much of U.S. history. Imagine if President Eisenhower had adopted that stance when Gov. Orval Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround Central High School in September 1957 to keep nine black students from entering the school. Imagine the result if the president, instead of ordering the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to ensure the safety of the “Little Rock Nine” and subsequently federalizing the Arkansas National Guard, had concluded that black children shouldn’t go to school where they were not wanted — or more generally, that black people shouldn’t live where they were not wanted.

Yes, Mr. Sharon’s plan is practical and “realistic,” but the world is a far worse place for the making of such a plan.


Oak Hill, Va.

Check the spell checker, please

I can’t stand it any longer. As a concerned and longtime reader of your otherwise excellent newspaper, I must inquire as to whether, perhaps in a misguided economy move, you have fired the last of your proofreaders and replaced them with machines. Although reluctant to play the critic, I find I cannot stand by and watch without comment as your publication sinks toward the level of broadcast journalism. For example, on Jan. 17 on Page A4, in the story headlined “U.S. studies Dulles tapes for breach,” column 2, paragraph 3, line 1, we find “on the heals” instead of “on the heels.” One wonders whether the story was dictated to an indiscriminating machine and transferred thence to paper because it seems unlikely (though not, regrettably, impossible) that a reporter’s spelling would have been so poor as to substitute a verb describing repair of the anatomy for a noun denoting a part of the anatomy. Then, in Clarence Page’s Jan. 31 column on reparations for slavery, we find him referring to the possibility of an argument about “how the compensation would be dispersed.” Well, I should think there would be an argument because I, for one, would much prefer the compensation to be disbursed. Unfortunately, there has been a plethora of other instances of misuse of words, for which I cannot cite the specific edition, article, etc, but among them the repeated use of lead (pronounced as the metal) as the past tense of the verb “to lead” and, in a recent editorial, “plead” instead of “pled.” Then, within the past few days, there was the description of someone as a “roll model.” The Pillsbury Doughboy, perhaps? The straw that breaks the camel’s back, though, is the headline that appeared in the Feb. 4 issue on Page A18, “Russia trods familiar path.” Good grief. Will we next be informed that someone “swams” the English Channel?


Alexandria , Va.

Shooting reveals cry for help

The shooting at Ballou High School is more than just a tragedy(“SecuringD.C. schools,” Editorial, Wednesday). It is the beginning of a rebellion and a final scream for help from our children, who are the future leaders of the District. Our children are rebelling against parents who don’t care as much as they should, against leaders who run to the spotlight only in times of trouble and against the D.C. school board, which pretends to care while being academically and fiscally irresponsible. The students want parents to start being parents again, to save them from the streets and to hold them accountable for their actions. They want leaders to stop hiding behind promises of more dollars to solve the problems of the public school system and for the D.C. School Board to take responsibility for its members’ lack of vision, creativity and inaction.

From 2001 to 2003, the city’s public schools ended the fiscal years with $737.1 million, $740.7 million and $711.9 million, respectively. However, during that same time, academic achievement declined. What have we received for our investment in public education? Nothing. I think we all know that the infrastructure of our schools is in deplorable condition. However, it is clear that the funding of D.C. public schools is not the only issue, as the school board would like the public to believe.

Clearly, what is missing in the public schools is creativity and, most important, responsibility on the part of the school board and the people who claim to be leaders. If a public school budget of $700 million plus is not sufficient to educate our children, what is? It is time for parents to parent, leaders to lead and the D.C. school board to take responsibility for its inaction. This needs to happen soon, before this rebellion gets out of control.



Spinning at the Sierra Club (cont.)

The “Spinning at the Sierra Club” letters (Letters, Feb. 3) missed the point of the public debate over our upcoming board elections and misrepresented the Sierra Club’s work on population issues.

Instead of looking at a global problem from a limited U.S. perspective, the Sierra Club is working to improve the environmental and living conditions for all who inhabit the planet, not just those who live in the United States. We are working to improve access to voluntary family planning both here and abroad because that approach has proved to be an effective solution throughout the world for slowing population growth. Time has proved that increasing education and economic opportunities for women and girls also has a positive effect. We’re committed to promoting these solutions through our population program because they work.

However, several candidates in our upcoming board election are more concerned about immigration into the United States — a topic our members have debated over the years, ultimately adopting a position of neutrality by majority vote. Unfortunately, this year’s board election has attracted the attention of outside non-environmental groups with anti-immigration and racist agendas. These groups are encouraging their members to join the Sierra Club and vote in our board election in an attempt to pack the board with people who appear to be more interested in limiting immigration than protecting the environment. The involvement of outside groups, especially racist groups, in our electoral process is the real area of concern.

We urge Sierra Club members and the public to look beneath the rhetoric. Thirteen past presidents of the Sierra Club, two former executive directors and hundreds of our members throughout the nation have banded together in an organization called Groundswell Sierra (www.groundswellsierra.org) to protect the proud 112-year conservation and democratic legacy of the world’s oldest environmental organization.


Sierra Club

Chapel Hill, N.C.

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