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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Attempt on Rantisi After Renewed Attacks

June 13, 2003

Re "Israel Tries to Kill Top Militant," June 11: If Abdulaziz Rantisi is a militant, then Osama bin Laden is a freedom fighter.

Welcome to the theater of the absurd. The "road map" was not put at risk by Israel's failed attempt to eliminate Rantisi. It was a nonstarter as long as Yasser Arafat, Islamic Jihad and Hamas could slaughter innocent civilians with impunity while having the world media, including The Times, blame Israel for defending itself. Hamas from the outset rejected any possibility of even a cease-fire. Since Aqaba, Hamas never stopped the violence. Its members blatantly claim responsibility for these vicious suicide attacks, and they walk away, without the slightest attempt by the new Palestinian Authority leadership to rein them in.

Israel is expected to sit passively by while its soldiers are gunned down and it is put on high alert, with over 50 security warnings, and then criticized for any reaction. Truly absurd.

Sidney L. Strajcher

Los Angeles

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Negotiation, by definition, is between two or more people. When Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas tried to negotiate with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, they rejected him. Instead they continue to launch attacks against Israelis; therefore, there is no "negotiation."

Doesn't that entitle Israel to strike directly at those who continue to murder Israelis? Shouldn't it be permitted to do so until negotiations start?

Jack Salem

Los Angeles

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Regarding 9/11, our president told the country that the only way to stop terrorists is to hit back; so he bombed Afghanistan. Regarding Iraq, he told the country that the only way to stop potential terrorism is to hit first; so he bombed Iraq. Regarding Israel, he told Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that the only way to stop terrorism is to restrain yourself and talk and hope that this works while your countrymen are being slaughtered.

Apparently our president sees Israeli blood as being much cheaper than American blood.

Paul D. Blumstein

Rancho Palos Verdes

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Re "Israeli Army Pulls Up Settler Outposts' Stakes," June 10: If the "biblical birthright" claimed by Zionist extremists did not result in such devastation, it would be laughable. Their fanatical worldview dismisses centuries of history as inconsequential and places their theocentric desires above the human rights of the people they have displaced, and of those they hope, through continued strategic land seizure, to drive from the West Bank in the future.

For Sharon to prove that he is serious about removing those who have usurped that land, he will have to move quickly from symbolic media events, like dismantling watch towers in obscure outposts, to the critical issue of actual withdrawal from the more substantial Israeli settlements. One doubts that he has the will to do so because the people who occupy such places have, after all, formed his political base for decades.

Nearly as preposterous as those biblical land claims is the flurry of diplomatic doubletalk, emerging from all quarters, praising these renewed negotiations. Once again, the Palestinian leadership has succumbed to pressure from external powers and accepted conditions that many observers recognize as untenable. Somehow this is being interpreted, by others, as good news. This view, as with the process itself, seems like a cruel old joke and, like all the plans that have preceded it, will only produce more tears.

Roger Bowers

Los Angeles

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