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Taking Sides Assigns Value to Violence

January 27, 2002

I belong to the so-called righteous "one side," according to Yossi Klein Halevi (" 'Cycle of Violence' Is a Middle East Lie," Commentary, Jan. 23). But after reading his article I feel like I belong to the self-righteous "one side."

The cycle of violence in the Middle East is neither a lie nor a myth. It usually stems from at least two reasons: 1) When one side believes that his or her life is more valuable than the other side's (something Americans, too, should think deeply and hard about in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and the war against the Afghan people); and 2) when the other side, out of complete desperation and hopelessness, is compelled to inflict on the one side the same pain and wounds that the one side has been inflicting on the other side for so long. I'm not in the business of justifying murder and terrorism, but I don't need Halevi's demagoguery to show me who is to blame and who is not.

Haling Meldy-Paterson

Encino

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You've done your readers a great service by publishing Halevi's trenchant distillation of the true calculus of Middle East violence. It may not stop the continued use of "cycle of violence" but it certainly puts into question the true understanding of those who continue to use the term.

Jack Salem

Los Angeles

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Re "The Stops Are Pulled Out in the Mideast," Commentary, Jan. 24: Hussein Ibish may pontificate about Israel's alleged transgressions until hell freezes over. But when all is said and done, one irrefutable fact remains: When Israel stops shooting, the violence continues. When the Palestinians stop shooting, the violence ends.

Israel offered the Palestinians 95% of what they demanded. They responded by spitting in Israel's face--just as the Arab world has been doing ever since Israel gained independence in 1948. That too is an irrefutable fact.

Bruce M. Friedman

Los Angeles

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