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Many questions arise out of Middle East mess

July 30, 2006

Re "Fighting to survive," Opinion, July 26

Michael Oren reminds us that in 1982, 500,000 Israelis demonstrated against then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, whom they blamed for the massacre of 800 Palestinian civilians in Beirut. I was reminded of this last week when I called one of my cousins in Haifa to find out about our family there. Mili told me they were frightened by the rocket attacks. She also talked about the terrible suffering of the Lebanese people and became very upset. Then another siren went off, and she had to go into the "other room" -- the safe rooms that Israelis prepared in 1991 to protect themselves against Saddam Hussein's bombs.

Many other Israelis speak with great empathy for the suffering of the Arab people, but we never hear about this. Especially now, it is very moving to hear an Israeli mourn the suffering of innocent people who are on the other side.

SUZANNE ZAHARONI

Beverly Hills

*

Oren offers convincing arguments concerning Israel's need to counter Hezbollah and its supporters, Syria and Iran. One can empathize with the Israelis over recent Hezbollah aggression. But conspicuously absent from Oren's essay, and in other discussions of the current crisis, is past Israeli expansionism on the West Bank, specifically annexations around Jerusalem and land elsewhere for the building of settlements. And to add insult to injury, a protective wall is now being built around many of these areas.

In the eyes of many around the world, the moral high ground of Israel and the United States is diminished and is likely to remain so for years.

WALTER B. CHRISTMAS

Palos Verdes Estates

*

Oren states about Lebanon: "After languishing for years under Syrian occupation ... " Why was Lebanon allowed to languish for years under Syrian occupation without the intervention of either the U.S. or the United Nations? During this 29-year period, Hezbollah was permitted not only to dig in but to buy the hearts and minds of the poor people of southern Lebanon by providing them with schools, medicine and other essentials.

Where was the Lebanese government? Were necessary taxation mechanisms put in place to make sure the poor were cared for by their own government? There are lots of questions that nobody seems willing to ask, much less answer.

A.K. HEIBERG

Ventura

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