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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

A Double Standard on Assassinations?

March 25, 2004

In "An Unwise Assassination" (editorial, March 23) you again criticize Israel for defending itself against Hamas and other terrorism while offering a soft condemnation for the act of Palestinian suicide bombings. Israel has to defend itself, and especially against Hamas, the group that has vowed no compromise for the complete destruction of the Jewish state. Sheik Ahmed Yassin was released in 1997 from an Israeli jail only after promising to end all violence. He broke that promise and promoted unspeakable, nonstop violence. His death is an opportunity for moderate Palestinians to restart the nearly moribund peace process.

Lou Loomis

Winnetka

If and when the U.S. armed forces kill Osama bin Laden, for good reason, there will be celebrations and laudatory editorials and our president will probably be assured reelection. No sensible American would refer to that killing as a murder; it would be viewed as a necessary step in the war against terror. Yet when Israel kills Yassin, the father of the suicide bomber and the individual personally responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw refers to the killing as "unacceptable ... unjustified" and The Times refers to the killing as a "murder." What am I missing?

Marc E. Rohatiner

Los Angeles

The killing of Yassin will undoubtedly spur an unprecedented wave of tit-for-tat killings between Palestinians and Jews. Apprehension and imprisonment of the leader would have been a more rational choice for Israel.

Ara Avakyan

Valley Village

In your editorial you state that Hamas runs schools in the Gaza Strip. What you failed to mention is that they teach the children to blow themselves up with as many Israelis as possible.

Robert Richman

Pasadena

Nowhere in "Sharon Bets on Weakening Hamas" (March 23) did you question the extrajudicial assassination of a suspected terrorist by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Obviously the Israeli government had the power to apprehend this elderly, wheelchair-bound paraplegic and try him in an Israeli court.

Apparently Sharon has precisely the same concept of "justice" as President Bush: "Good" nations have the God-given right to exterminate anyone they deem "evil," with or without due process of law. The only "moral" question is whether such lawless behavior efficiently achieves "good" results. Would you mind explaining to me how this reasoning differs significantly from that which led to the Holocaust?

Richard Young

Albuquerque

Re "Handing Hamas a Martyr," Commentary, March 23: Amy Wilentz writes, "Yassin was not a good man ... Hamas has carried out inhuman, vicious terrorist acts for years, all with Yassin's blessing. Still, his killing represents an irreversible shredding of the remaining possibilities for peace."

The remaining possibilities for peace were shredded a long time ago; Yassin's killing has nothing to do with it.

Peace was shredded at Camp David, Taba and Sharm el Sheik. It was shredded with the Zinni plan, the Mitchell document, the Tenet plan for the reorganization of Palestinian security services and the president's "road map" for peace. Peace was shredded when Yasser Arafat neutered his prime ministers by refusing to hand over control of the Palestinian security forces, which, in the right hands, might actually have been able to create political stability on the Palestinian side. As for Yassin, no one seems to disagree that he was part and parcel of an organization that targeted innocent men, women and children for murder by suicide bombers.

Leopold Rosenfeld

Beverly Hills

Wilentz ominously warns that the assassination of Yassin will result in a rash of violence against Israeli citizens. Does this mean they should fear that the peace and tranquillity brought by Yassin's suicide-bombing campaign may come to an end?

David Dorfman

Los Angeles

And now we can expect Hamas to have a massive retaliation. When are we going to get it? The failure of these two groups to find a peace agreement is the primary cause for all the violence we are experiencing. If after 60 years they can't do it, it's time for the world community to do it for them and impose a settlement.

John Laguna

Mission Viejo

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