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Islamic Fundamentalism

September 01, 1993

* It is regrettable that Patrick Buchanan's otherwise excellent article ("The Arabs Are Slipping From Our Grasp," Column Right, Aug. 24) on the very real dangers of Islamic fundamentalism and its global repercussions should be marred by his unwarranted attack and denunciation of Israel.

His statement that American aid to Israel has been used to humiliate the Arabs and to dispossess the Palestinians is both deplorable and untrue. Since its inception in 1948, Israel has had to defend itself in many wars and against countless acts of terrorism attacking its innocent civilians.

The United States has seen fit to support Israel for two main reasons: First, it feels a moral obligation to support the only democracy in the region founded and formed from the ashes of the Holocaust and to ensure that this small country surrounded by enemies sworn to its destruction should not be overwhelmed.

Secondly, Israel is acknowledged by the Congress and the Pentagon as a strategic ally and asset to the United States and the aid given to Israel since 1967 is far less than the cost to the United States of maintaining the kind of presence in the Middle East that it would need to if Israel were not there.

ALAN STERN

Los Angeles

* Buchanan's claim that the U.S. aid program to Israel is the main culprit of instability is hardly surprising; his anti-Israel bias is nothing new. But to claim that "America is the primary source of cultural pollution that is fueling Islamic revolution" borders the obscene. "U.S. films, books, and TV shows . . . today are almost always saturated with profanity, vulgarity, nudity and violence" according to Buchanan. Unlike Buchanan, I happen to be proud of American culture, and besides, I don't think the World Trade Center was bombed in protest of NBC's new fall lineup. What does he suggest anyway, that U.S. TV shows, books, and films be censored according to traditional Islamic law in order to please fanatics?

NIR HOFTMAN

Calabasas

* As an American Muslim I began Buchanan's column bracing myself. Here goes another veiled invective against Islam, I thought. Here goes another admonition, subtly targeting Islam as the new bogyman in the Western world. Halfway through the column I realized Buchanan's commentary was not an attack on Islam. It was an attack on America's foolishly shortsighted Middle Eastern policy and the role such policy plays in the latest eruptions of "Islamic radicalism." At the same time it was a bold recognition of a history of peddling to the Muslim world the most offensive aspects of our culture and a stinging account of duplicity and hypocrisy in American dealings in the Muslim world.

Buchanan's voice is one of a small minority especially when he spells out the costly toll in not only dismissing tyrannical Muslim rulers' oppressed and often impoverished masses but failing to actively endorse freedom, justice and equality for Muslim and Jew, alike.

KAREN ENGLISH

Los Angeles

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