The Conrad cartoon is misleading and inflammatory. Reagan is not a hostage of Israel. In fact, Israel has indicated that it is willing to release all its Shia prisoners; all Reagan need do is ask.
Reagan is a hostage of two other things: first, his political campaigning and subsequent "tough-guy" rhetoric in which he boasted that he would never accede to terrorists' demands; and second, his ineptitude in not having any contingency plans backing up his tough talk to deal with a situation like this, now that it has finally happened during his Administration.
ROBERT J. SCHECHTER
The Times has received 85 letters on the cartoon; all but 3 were critical.