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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Targeted Killings Fight Violence With Violence

September 13, 2003

Re "Difficult to Draw a Bead on Issue of Targeted Killings," Commentary, Sept. 8: Michael Walzer confuses the issue between police work and war. He believes that Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq who are trying to kill American soldiers should not be targeted for assassination if there is any possibility that innocent civilians would be injured or killed. He believes that if Al Qaeda terrorists were in Philadelphia, in a "zone of peace," committing mayhem, police would need to be sent to find them in a way that civilians would not be endangered, even if that meant that our police would lose their lives rather than let any harm come to civilians.

Unfortunately for our combat soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are fighting in a zone of war, and any sign on our part that we will impose standards of Philadelphia-style fairness will only embolden the terrorists to commit more acts of violence. The U.S. didn't start this war. Terrorists came to this country on 9/11, with the belief that we would not retaliate but that we would instead interpret the worst foreign invasion of U.S. history as a crime and ask the United Nations to bring Al Qaeda to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Fortunately, we elected a president who made it very clear to international terrorists that the invasion of the U.S. will result in a very heavy and deadly response. Walzer's compassion for Hamas and Al Qaeda will only lead to more death and destruction for more innocent civilians.

Clyde Feldman

Sherman Oaks

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I commend Walzer for condemning Israel's particular brand of brutal targeted killings but wonder why he didn't condemn all targeted killings. The big "if" underlying any targeted killing is what makes a targeted killing so very wrong: It is far too easy to accuse a person of a crime and then kill that person -- plus any chance he might have to defend himself in a fair trial. The killer gets to kill not just his target but his target's personal story and any evidence he might have to prove his innocence, empowering propaganda rather than real justice.

Anne Selden Annab

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

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The Times misses the point by blaming the dead end reached in President Bush's "road map" for peace on "the politics of personalities" rather than continued American indulgence of reckless Israeli policies (editorial, Sept. 9). After weeks of relative calm, thanks to an agreement brokered by Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the cease-fire began to unravel when Israel resumed raids and arrests of Palestinian militant groups. Then, several weeks ago, Israel also resumed its policy of assassination, killing Hamas activists Hamis Abu Salam and Faiz al-Sadar in Nablus, which in turn triggered the suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

The exact sequence is important, because a number of past cease-fire attempts have also been scuttled as a result of Israeli assassinations. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has again guaranteed violence by continuing to attack Palestinians and by subverting the president's "road map" through the construction of a de facto border that will confine Palestinians to 42% of the West Bank and permit Israeli settlements to expand in the remaining occupied territories. Incredibly, the response by Congress and the White House has been to reward Sharon with a $10-billion aid package.

Eugene O'Carroll

Palo Alto

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Ten years ago the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization promised to end violence in return for Israel giving them land. Israel gave up land and the Palestinians continued their policies of terror. In an attempt for a final deal, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was offered almost all of the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem; his response to that was a renewed intifada. The Palestinians' failure to curb violence gives Israel no choice but to act preventively. There is no difference between the actions of the U.S. against the Taliban and Al Qaeda and those of Israel against Hamas and other groups.

David Eliezrie

Yorba Linda

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Thank you for your story on Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter, murdered by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem (Sept. 11). They were truly wonderful human beings. Your story humanizes the victims of a horror put on them by the insane, cynical leaders of the suicide bombers, who push their followers to commit such heinous atrocities.

Richard Sieger

North Hollywood

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