One Holy State

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[RE: “Payne’s World,” Nov. 18-24] It is one more unfortunate tragedy for the Palestinian people that Yassar Arafat succumbed to corruption in his later years. It still does not diminish his heroic efforts to bring the cause of the Palestinian people before the United Nations which resulted in Resolution 242.

There are many corrupt politicians in the world and even more willing to change party rules to protect them. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Still the crisis in the Middle East is pivotal to the future of the world we find ourselves in after Nov. 2. I believe Mr. Payne should return to the issue in a future article after considering the following: Palestinians have been under occupation since 1948; there are over a million Palestinians in refugee camps throughout the Middle East without any hope of repatriation or compensation; a map of the proposed Palestinian State encompasses only 2 percent of the original Palestine; the proposed Palestinian state consists of numerous cantons completely surrounded by Israel; Palestinian life is under constant disruption through roadblocks, house arrests and curfew; with approximately 60 percent unemployment among the population, 80 percent of the labor used to build Israeli settlements are Palestinian; houses are bulldozed, olive trees are razed, the water supply of the West Bank and Gaza is under full Israeli control; old men are stripped naked and made to stand in the street for hours while being interrogated by both Israeli men and women soldiers; ambulances are repeatedly detained at roadblocks and searched on their way to hospitals sometimes carrying expectant mothers; Palestinian leaders are assassinated in the street with no regard for the fatalities of innocent bystanders.

Surely a manifestation of Judeo-Christian belief is that all men are created equal. It is a cornerstone of democracy. What is happening to the Palestinians is apartheid without a name.

Yet I believe Mr. Payne is a believer in democracy and yearns for peace in the Middle East. Perhaps his future article could promote the one true chance for peace in Palestine: A one state solution. Let's test Israeli democracy and America's unilateral support for it by allowing one man one vote for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Let's acknowledge the right of Palestinians to return to this one state and strive for a new life as all Jews are currently allowed to declare themselves Israeli regardless of where they were born. Let's defend the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to walk freely in the streets of Jerusalem and practice their faith side by side with Christians. Let's espouse the principles of freedom that Jesus would bestow on the inhabitants of this new Holy Land.

Horton's Heat

Tim McGivern's interview of Scott Horton [“Newscity,” Nov. 4-10] exposes the Bushite Defense Department's contempt for the Geneva Conventions. Attorney Horton shows the chain of command, starting with Secretary Rumsfeld, leading to the crimes at Abu Ghraib and other prisons containing “enemy combatants.” Horton delineates how violations of the Geneva Conventions also violate U.S military traditions. During my service in the Pacific during World War II, I saw humane treatment of Japanese prisoners who had overcome their nation's taboo against surrender. This incidentally led to an increasing number of surrenders when we dropped leaflets showing such good treatment. My father saw humane treatment of German prisoners in World War I, even though our propaganda had called them Huns. As the heroic Mr. Horton says, there should be a commission to investigate this scandal all the way to the top so that a few GI's aren't forced to take the rap.

Divided We Fall

Regarding the letter from Mr. Schaefer [“Red Tide,” Nov. 18-24], I would like to say that I grew up in Richmond, Va., a city steeped to its roots in the American Civil War. Division is not a mathematical concept in the southern classroom so much as it's a historical one. Having been educated there, I can cite chapter and verse of how badly things can turn out when the nation is divided against itself.

Mr. Bush's victory was, by no statistical measure, overwhelming. Those left out of the victory party include the working poor, the under- and un-employed, the uninsured, advocates for legal and safe abortions, gay Americans and their family and friends and those opposed to the war in Iraq. With all these people in mind, I would counsel Mr. Schaefer and other like-minded celebrants to please try to reach out to your fellow countrymen with something more conciliatory than “Na, na, na, we beat ya!”

Scaling The Chasm

Shortly before the election I was approached by a man in downtown Albuquerque who asked me if I would like to volunteer to work for John Kerry. I asked him if he thought we have too much government, about the right amount of government or too little government. His reply was an uneasy reiteration of his request about volunteering for Kerry, so I went on my way.

About a week after the election I heard another man deliver a brief paean to the re-elected president. When I got a chance, I asked him the same question about the amount of government we have in the United States. He proceeded to inform me that he “wasn't going to go there.” The substance of what followed was a little lecture about how George Bush II was correct on two specific points, so this man didn't care about anything else. I explained to him that his president was offering a short-term solution to a problem that could result 20 or 30 years hence in this man's heirs having to fight the same battle he is fighting now. He shrugged, smirked and said he would let the next generation worry about that.

In all likelihood there is an unbridgeable chasm between the political and social philosophies of these two men, yet they have one fundamental point in common: They each refused to look straight at their candidate and answer a tough but revealing question about him. On the secular level the biggest problem we have in the United States is the problem of a government that is too big and powerful, yet these two active supporters of the recent presidential candidates didn't even want to talk about it, let alone do anything. Is it any wonder the country is in the mess it's in—and that we're sinking deeper and deeper into that mess every day?

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