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Role of 'Bulldozer' in Middle East Conflict

October 19, 2002

In "Locked in War's Embrace" (Opinion, Oct. 13), Amy Wilentz depicts Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a villain. No better than a ruthless dictator. She even goes as far as to claim that Sharon and Hamas share the common goal of "the destruction of peace." She states that Sharon contemplates transferring all the Palestinians out of Israel. I hardly think the elected leader of a democratic state actually believes he can organize the expulsion of more than 2 million people.

Wilentz asks why Sharon doesn't bulldoze the house of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual founder of Hamas, as he does the compounds of Yasser Arafat and other collaborators of terror. Yassin is a quadriplegic and not part of the Hamas military wing. Sharon does not endorse the destruction of innocent individuals even if they believe in the annihilation of Israel.

Wilentz wrote that Sharon sees himself as being at war with Palestine. Why wouldn't he? Suicide bombers attack daily if he doesn't take wartime precautions, such as locking down the West Bank and Gaza Strip with strict curfews. Arafat either cannot or will not stop attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. He is ineffective as a leader at a time when leadership is the only solution to a crisis. Sharon, like any other nation's leader, will not negotiate under terror. Peace will happen only when the Palestinians put down their weapons and go back to the negotiating table. Sharon will keep Israel safe until this happens, as any great leader would.

Rafael Meghnagi

Santa Monica

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"The Bulldozer" Sharon got his nickname for bulldozing hundreds of Palestinian homes in a Gaza Strip refugee camp in the 1970s. He has a philosophy that condones settlements, and his position is to grab as many Palestinian hilltops as feasible. This creates "facts on the ground." His tactic is to destroy the entire Palestinian infrastructure to marginalize Arafat. In destroying police stations and vehicles and preventing freedom of movement of Palestinians in the occupied areas, how can law and order be maintained?

The Palestinians will never achieve statehood because three powerful forces besides Israel are against them. These include the U.S. Congress, the Christian right and the Israeli lobby in this country. Only when you dismantle the objections of the three and get rid of Sharon will you have peace in the Middle East. Fifty years from now the issues will be the same unless, of course, the Palestinians are expelled en mass to other Arab countries.

Robert Pisapia

Westlake Village

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I read Wilentz's article with some interest and even some agreement. Wouldn't it be nice if she wrote a companion piece about how Arafat has messed up every chance he has been given over the years for peace, squandered international money donated to the Palestinian cause and, through his old-soldier stubborn thickheadedness, single-handedly brought his own people to the brink of ruin?

After all, even in the Middle East, it takes two to tango.

Sara L. Cannon

Santa Monica

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Wilentz touches only lightly on the impact of Sharon's actions on U.S. interests in the Middle East. In fact, Sharon's wanton destruction of the homes, institutions, leadership and hopes of the Palestinians has hurt not only U.S. standing in the Middle East but our fight against international terrorism as well.

Throughout the world, the U.S. is seen as the shield behind which Sharon has been allowed to try to bulldoze the Palestinians into submission. The longer the U.S. appears to be giving unconditional support to Sharon's brutal occupation of the Palestinians, the greater the resentment and resistance we will meet among Arabs, Muslims and the people of other lands.

Raymond Hansen

Los Angeles

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