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Child Martyrs: Go to the Root of the Problem

July 23, 2002

Re " 'Martyrdom' Dreams Take Root Early in the West Bank," July 20: It is simply and inexcusably horrible that martyrdom is so celebrated among Palestinian youth. Whatever family, educational, media, political and religious powers exist to encourage this tragic development must somehow be effectively turned around. Jews are taught that we are all responsible for each other and that despite differences we must love our fellow Jews. It is in that spirit that I write.

If you are an Israeli settler in the West Bank or in Gaza, relying on the Israel Defense Forces to protect you everywhere you go at all times, you are courting danger and death for yourselves and your neighbors. God is clearly not protecting you. Your young children made no choice to live on other people's land and deprive them of their legitimate rights to peoplehood.

Ultimately a political agreement will be reached, I pray sooner than later. The time is long overdue for Israel to solidify its borders more or less consistently with the 1967 Green Line and stop offering up more Jewish lives to martyrdom. American Jews are barely aware of it, but Israeli polls still consistently show substantial support, even majority support, for this position. I am a proud Jew, a lover of my people and of Israel. Long may it thrive. Without excusing any crimes committed by Palestinians or anyone else, I am deeply troubled to see Israel on a suicidal course with no conceivable positive outcome.

Eric Gordon

Los Angeles

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Your article about the desire of Palestinian children to become shahids (martyrs), and the shocked reaction of some parents, is a testament to the generations of hate created by the schools of the Palestinian Authority. Electing new leaders is not necessarily the answer. Rather, it is a program of re-education that will serve as the hallmark of a true and genuine peace movement. Instead of giving millions of dollars to the PA, which funnels it into the private bank accounts of its leadership, the funds should go directly to the public school systems, to be administered by a committee or foundation of the U.S. and the European Union, and should be given only on the condition that the textbooks and brainwashing that teach hatred of Jews and the destruction of Israel be replaced with teaching that supports democratic principles, a desire to end the bloodshed and intercultural exchanges.

Aggie Hoffman

Studio City

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