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Middle East Leaders Defer to Extremism

July 28, 2002

It was encouraging to read Hussein Ibish's straightforward and evenhanded denunciation of both Palestinian and Israeli extremism ("Barbarism Runs Rampant in the Holy Land," Commentary, July 24). For far too long the Palestinian leadership and Ariel Sharon's government have deferred to the desires of right-wing and fanatical elements who have no intention of taking the necessary first steps toward resuming a peace process. This has predictably led to a mutually abhorrent dance of death and destruction.

Equally significant, this deference to extremism has simultaneously diverted attention from the urgent goals of ending the occupation, establishing a viable Palestinian state, ensuring Israel's territorial and physical security and establishing normalized relations between Israel and all the nations of the Arab and Muslim world. The time has come for those of us in the United States who are committed to these goals to speak out in support of new Palestinian and Israeli leaders who will reject and isolate the many extremist elements on all sides--both here and in the Middle East.

Douglas Mirell

President

Progressive Jewish Alliance

Los Angeles

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Re Hamas plans to retaliate against Israel: If I understand the situation correctly, Hamas is going to use bombs that have already been built, in locations that have already been selected, carried by children who have already been recruited to retaliate against Israel for assassinating the person who headed up the planning and funding of these terrorist attacks. Hamas might have credibility if it would cease suicide terrorism and recognize Israel's right to exist.

David Lewis

Los Angeles

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Re "The Necessity of Targeted Assassinations," Commentary, July 25: I was disgusted and outraged by Steven R. David's article. After all, murder is murder and evil is evil. When any government makes murdering its enemies without proof or due process its official policy, it removes any moral ground that the perpetrators of these acts might claim to stand on.

How are the lives of the 14 innocent Palestinian civilians killed in the Israeli bombing in Gaza any different from those of innocent Israeli civilians killed in bombings in their cities? More important, how can apologists like David rationalize these evil activities? Peace in that region can only be achieved by talking to each other. It seems by their actions that the current government in Israel has no interest in doing that.

Michael Olnick

Sherman Oaks

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