While I am accustomed to reading regular accounts of violence in the Middle East, I must say that your most recent story about the massacre in Hebron had a very different impact on me. As a human being, when I read stories like the one Feb. 20 about a radical Palestinian shooting a pregnant Israeli settler, I am outraged. As a Jew, when I read the story about the radical Israeli shooting innocent people at a mosque, I cried.
Many years ago, when Israel and Egypt sat down to make peace, Golda Meir said to Anwar Sadat, "One day I will be able to forgive you for killing Israeli boysbut I don't know if I will ever be able to forgive you for making me kill Egyptian boys."
We must all recognize that there are actually three "sides" in this issue _ the peaceful majority of Palestinians, the peaceful majority of Israelis and the fanatics of both sides. This is no longer a confrontation of Arabs and Jews. It is a confrontation of decency and indecency. To stall the peace talks now would only serve to give a perverse dignity and victory to the barbaric fanatics of both sides.
We can only hope and pray that both sides come to recognize this and that decency prevails.
Arthur R. Polin, M.D., Palm Harbor
The tragic acts of terrorism which occurred in Hebron must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It is ironic that the tomb of Abraham, patriarch of both Arabs and Jews, bore silent witness to this senseless hatred.
No one stated this better than Ezer Weizman, Israel's president: "Today is a terrible and difficult day for Jew and Arab in this land. There is no understanding, no forgiveness, and no atonement for this horrible act. I extend my condolences to the families, the citizens of the city of Hebron, and the Arab population throughout the world." Prime Minister Rabin and the overwhelming majority of Israelis and American Jews agree with him.
The cycle of violence can and must be broken by Israeli and Palestinian leadership who do not want the future history books of the area to be written in the blood of their brethren. It must be a negotiated peace which gives Palestinians true autonomy and security, and which gives the Israelis the assurances that daily acts of terrorism will no longer stalk them so that they will not need to carry arms to protect themselves constantly.
We are at a possible turning point in history. Hopefully, wiser heads will prevail, more now than in the tragic past. Now, more than ever, judgment must be exercised by both Israeli and Palestinian leadership so that the children of Abraham can dwell in peace.
James B. Soble, President;
Melvin Estroff, Chairman Community Relations;
Robert F. Tropp, Executive Director,
Jewish Federation of Pinellas County, Clearwater
PRIMER (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting), a Tampa Bay media watch group organized to respond to biased and inaccurate reporting regarding Israel, condemns unequivocally the obscene attack on a mosque by a Jewish settler. On the other hand, we believe that peace in the Middle East is achievable; therefore, we must not allow the extremists on either side to manipulate our passions in order to disrupt the peace process.
We must rely on the media to be very balanced in its reporting. To date, our local media have demonstrated responsible reporting of this shameful event. The focus must be kept on the peace process. Attempts to use incidents such as this one to obtain bargaining power will be ill advised. Continued responsible reporting by the media is essential to give peace a real chance.
Norman N. Gross, Palm Harbor
Re: Chain: No McSmoking, Feb. 24.
McDonald's Corp. made a good decision by following the leader, Arby's, in banning smoking in all company-owned restaurants.
Now that Dave Thomas has returned from the Olympic games the first thing on his agenda should be to ban smoking in all of his Wendy's company-owned restaurants.
Milton W. Spinner, Spring Hill
A 'logical suspicion'
Your Feb. 22 front page article, Fear of milk hormone is distrust of science, makes the claim that a movement to reject milk from cows treated with growth hormone is not based on logic, but on suspicion.
But what if suspicion of science is logical? The fact of the matter is that you can hire scientists to say anything you want and even to support it with elaborate arguments. The tobacco industry has long done so. There is virtually no way for the average person to evaluate whether such "scientific" studies are valid or not.
Haven't scientists in this century approved such things as thalidomide, asbestos, DDT and diethylstilbesterol, all of which have caused varying kinds of deformity, disease or death? A generation ago shoe stores even routinely employed flouroscopes to X-ray the feet of those who were buying shoes. Are we to trust the regulation of the government, which approved or allowed many of the above substances? The same government that provides money to farmers to grow tobacco, while placing warning labels on cigarette packages?
It is not so much science that is to be distrusted as bias, often arising from the profit motive, that leads to the prostitution of science. Science, like any other human activity, can be employed for good or abused for evil. It is the disposition of the human heart (and the competence of the scientist) that fundamentally determines which it shall be.
If you really believe in democracy, let people choose. Put labels advertising the hormone on milk containers. Those who trust "science" can happily buy it. The rest of us will wait awhile.
Karen Y. Davis, Clearwater
As a student of the philosophy of science, I would like to offer some more substantial reasons as to why science should be distrusted, especially in the case of bovine growth hormone.
Science does not tell us how reality works, but makes models and offers theories of how scientists think "the world works." Things are not necessarily made up of atoms; scientists only think they are.
So when your article firmly declares that the "hormone does not change the milk itself" as if it were a universal truth, this is quite misleading. Even scientists attach their names to their beliefs! The media, including the St. Petersburg Times, also easily accept a single scientist's or a single study's findings without subjecting the findings to someone with an opposing viewpoint or criticism and, in most instances, not even to the review of another scientist.
Scientific experiments, like scientific theories, also aren't perfect. Most take place in utterly artificial conditions, occur over a short period of time, and are subject to a host of confounding factors.
The truth is that no one really knows what will happen to people (not some confined guinea pig) who ingest genetically altered and genetically "influenced" foods over long periods of time.
As someone who sees the "fruits of science" destroying the environment, running small farmers off their lands, producing nuclear warheads, promoting the use of toxic pesticides, dousing the earth with radiation and attaching most people to the brain-mesmerizing TV umbilical cord, I'll stick to my belief that genetically engineered food is more "cash for the fat cats" than "good food on the table."
Ted Sichelman, New Port Richey
Off to camp
Re: YES to a life free of crime, Feb. 19.
I enjoyed going to summer camp too when I was a kid, spending time in the great outdoors. With money being tight these days, it's nice to know that troubled teenagers now have the opportunity to go to camp as well.
All they have to do is murder a pawn shop owner while committing an armed robbery. And the best part is that the taxpayers will pick up the tab. I'm sure that the victim's family is satisfied that justice has been served in their case. After all, it was just one innocent, law-abiding, taxpaying, business owner who was killed.
Hey, maybe we can get Danny Rolling enrolled at Vo-Tech andJohn D. Sackett, St. Petersburg
When will the bans end?
Re: Smoking bans, camel bans, T-back bans, etc.
In nearly a week's time all this ban business has been overwhelming. Is this not America? Are we to wake up next week to find that our morning coffee will be next to be government controlled, too?
When will this frenzied anti-whatever end? We suggest that if all those who wish to ban everything want a perfect utopia they should try going to live in Singapore where even chewing gum is a no-no.
For weekend entertainment, maybe we should all dress up as camels, put on a T-back and go smoke on Clearwater Beach or in the parking lot at Sen. John Grant's office. We have a crime problem, an AIDS epidemic, and our elected officials spend millions of dollars on all this nonsense.
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Miller, St. Petersburg
More on "Bromley' media-hoax
Re: Barney bashing in media hoax comes too close to truth, Feb. 25, by Bill Maxwell.
If "sincere, clear-thinking Christians" decry a lack of respect in the media, they should look to some of their own spokespersons.
When I read what the Rev. Joseph Chambers attributed to a purple dinosaur, I laughed. Chambers was serious when he labeled Barney "the purple messiah." When I read Bunch and Bennett's satirical Barney bashing, I laughed. I found the satirists no less humorous than the source of their scam.
Where is it written that to be a Christian is an automatic license for stupidity?
Carolyn Dundas, New Port Richey
Re: John Bunch, aka "Luscious M. Bromley," defends Barney hoax, letter to the editor, Feb. 26.
I heartily agree with John Bunch.
This would have been a horrible country if we were still under Puritan rules. We would probably still be tar-and-feathering people who don't button their buttons as we think they should and still be burning so-called witches at the stake.
William B. Waters, St. Petersburg
Re: Letter from John M. Bunch, aka "Luscious M. Bromley," Feb. 26.
V.L. Dorrough, Palm Harbor
A great country
Only in America can a woman cut off her husband's penis with a kitchen knife, get a fair trial, serve a few weeks in a mental hospital, and be released by a wise judge declaring her not a threat so she can sell her fantastic story as a TV movie and a bestseller. What a happy ending! Everybody wins and everybody is happy.
The husband has his penis reattached, compliments of medical technology, the woman makes a million, and the American public gets hours of fine intellectual entertainment. Is this a great country or what?
Dominik M. Wiktor, St. Petersburg
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