Thank you for publishing the commentary by Melani McAlister ("Maryland bills would stifle academic freedom," Feb. 12). She has presented a balanced summary of the arguments supporting and opposing the ASA boycott. More importantly, I applaud her lucid explanation of how the proposed Maryland legislation, in withdrawing normal support from scholars who act on their conscience, is a serious threat to academic freedom.

I would add my own speculation that the underlying issue among legislators is their reluctance to believe that Israel is violating human rights. While Zionists wallow in denial, Israel continues its ongoing violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an occupying power from settling its own citizens on occupied land. Moreover, it is necessary only to visit the West Bank to see how the Palestinians are suffering from the "separation barrier" (most of which lies inside the West Bank, not on the Green Line between Israel and the occupied territory), checkpoints resembling cattle yards, the diversion of water supplies into settlements and home demolitions.

Yes, Israel is violating human rights, and because the U.S. gives it more than $3 billion per year, we should expect more cooperation and a higher standard of morality.

Carole C. Burnett, Silver Spring

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