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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Controversy Over Israel's Airstrike on Camp in Syria

October 11, 2003

Re "Pouring Oil on Mideast Fire," editorial, Oct. 7: The Times is right about one thing: The conflict in the Middle East is likely to be expanded. However, the blame for this expansion should be placed on Syria and not on Israel. For the last several decades, it is Syria that has worked to expand the conflict by funneling massive amounts of money from Iran to Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon (which was responsible for, among other horrific acts, the destruction of the U.S. barracks in Beirut), by allowing terrorist training camps on its own soil, by viewing the West and the U.S. as an enemy for so many years and by providing support to the most extreme kind of terrorist organizations, such as Islamic Jihad.

Instead of chastising Israel's legitimate acts of self-defense, The Times would more effectively advance the cause of peace by rightly noting Syria's disastrous track record, as well as identifying the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad as the organizations that are the true cause of the expanded violence in the region.

The Times should be advocating that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Korei act to rein in Palestinian terrorists, not chastising the efforts of a nation to protect its people against the threat of being massacred by a bomb laced with screws and nails at a discotheque, pizzeria, cafe, on a bus or in a restaurant.

Yariv Ovadia

Consul, Communications and Public Affairs, Consulate General of Israel, Los Angeles

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Your editorial was mixed with bias and naivete, at best. Warning Syria to heed U.S. admonitions against sponsoring terrorism is just calling the kettle black. Syria exists as a terrorist state and would have to cause its own destruction and reconstruction to stop being a sponsor and progenitor of terrorism. The constant calling for Israeli restraint as its citizens are being slaughtered on a daily basis, as The Times and others are doing, is almost tantamount to a benign support of the terrorism itself.

Allan Kandel

Los Angeles

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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continues to act as a general instead of a statesman. His ill-considered attack on Syria was the latest example. According to "Israel Widens Fight, Bombs Camp in Syria" (Oct. 6), the camp Israel attacked was abandoned. So what was the point?

I fervently hope that Sharon does not succeed in destroying the Israel he claims to be protecting. During the holiest days of the Jewish calendar, including the 10 days of repentance, Sharon seemed to be accumulating more sins. If only someone with the character of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin would replace him.

Rod Nelson

La Mirada

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Isn't it rather hypocritical that in pursuit of our "preemptive strike" policy we consider ourselves right to go after targets halfway across the world to attack hotbeds of terrorism while you condemn Israel for doing so in its own backyard? Please send your kids to ride on an Israeli city bus before you take such positions.

Bahman Joseph Azizi

Vernon

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