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Contested homes

March 10, 2009

Re "Defiant in the face of demolition," March 7

I find it unbelievable that Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem can say of homes in the Silwan neighborhood, with a straight face: "It is not an excuse for people to build illegally."

Israelis are building and continue to build illegal settlements throughout the West Bank. They have done so for years. Now Israel wants to tear down the homes of nearly 1,500 people so it can build a park to make more money from tourists.

Israelis do not regard Palestinians as human beings but as a subclass -- much the way the U.S. used to treat African Americans and South Africa treated anyone who wasn't white. This abhorrent view should be reviled. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called this behavior "unhelpful." I would call it criminal.

Cyndy Howe

Irvine

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Hashem Jalajel, a retired Jordanian army officer who lives in the Silwan-City of David area of Jerusalem, complains bitterly because the Israelis won't let him and his sons build without building permits.

To put things in perspective, this is an area that was conquered in 1948 by the Jordanian army (in which the 80-year-old Jalajel may have served at the time). The Jordanians expelled Jews who had been living in territories they took over, destroyed synagogues and desecrated cemeteries. Arabs moved into the Jews' homes.

Now, Jalajel complains that Israel is mean to him because it won't issue him a permit to build an illegal structure on top of an archaeological site. How is that for chutzpah?

Gideon Kanner

Los Angeles

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