John A. Dekker, pastor of the Cub Hill Bible Presbyterian Church, suggests (Forum, Nov. 30) that Americans should "support Israel" and that we must "thank God" for this loyal gulf ally. I wonder how much Rev. Dekker knows about Israel.
Has Rev. Dekker ever walked through one of the 43-year-old concentration camps used to house the homeless, stateless, jobless, hopeless people in Israeli-occupied Palestine? Has he prayed with any of the hundreds of old men and women who have had bones crushed by bat-wielding Israeli soldiers? Has he visited the hospitals where dozens of Palestinian babies have died in maternity wards of (American-made) tear gas overdoses?
Has Rev. Dekker visited an occupied Palestinian village where homes have been demolished, ancient olive trees uprooted, domestic animals slaughtered, all because Israeli troops suspect that a village child may have thrown a stone at his or her oppressors?
I cannot imagine that Rev. Dekker could thank his God for Israel if he had seen the true hell that exists in Palestine.
Kirk S. Nevin
Fewer lawyers means less justice
H. J. Rizzo's letter bemoaning the fact that 800 new lawyers will soon be admitted to practice in Maryland (Forum, Nov. 30) expresses a view that is all too common and is fundamentally wrong. That belief, that our community would be a better place if there were fewer lawyers, demonstrates a basic lack of understanding about what lawyers really do.
Being in a unique position to see lawyers both before they begin their careers (in my capacity as an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore Law School) and while they practice daily (in my position as a sitting trial judge), I know the quality of the lawyers that practice in our state. I know how much they positively contribute to this country. The vast majority of lawyers are intelligent, honest and caring people who believe in our system of a society based on law. History tells us what happens to societies that are not based on laws. One only need look at Nazi Germany, communist Russia or present-day Iraq. While Rizzo yearns for the "good old days," the fact is that life has become more complex. Our technology, personal freedoms and modern aspirations give rise to inherent conflicts. Lawyers don't need to churn up conflicts; they already exist in abundance.
As in every profession, there are members who do not live up to standards. Unlike other professions, lawyers who don't do what they should, such as filing frivolous cases or churning up litigation, are actively disciplined and even stripped of their license to practice.
The fact of the matter is that most lawyers help people cope with the complexities of our society. We should all be happy that there are now 800 more people in our state who can offer this help.
Dana M. Levitz
The writer is a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge.
Thugs and allies
The sanctimonious hypocrite in the White House keeps insisting that "aggression cannot be rewarded," and therefore Saddam must get nothing even if he withdraws from Kuwait.
About the time Bush was head of the CIA, Turkey seized one-third of Cyprus and has been very much rewarded since then by U.S. foreign aid disbursements amounting to $8 billion.
Bush had no problem with South Africa's seizing Zimbabwe or Israel's illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Saddam is a thug and terrorist, but no more so than the thugs and terrorists Bush likes Marcos, Pinochet, Zia, the contras, Assad, Mobuto and the death squad regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala.
But for the moment Saddam is the Satan, and Bush is ready to risk thousands of lives to prove it.
Gerald Ben Shargel
The enormous salary raises for the clerks of the court (which were kept a secret from the citizens of Maryland by incumbent clerks to discourage potential candidates against them) are a disgrace. This premeditated deception amounts to nothing less than a conspiracy to defraud the people of Maryland.
The reason for this large raise was never revealed. The truth be known, it was a payoff so the existing clerks would not fight the takeover of the state's clerks offices by the chief judge of the Court of Appeals. The bench is not to be blamed for wanting control of the state's clerks offices, because so many are being run into the ground by incompetents with political clout. For this I applaud the bench for "seizing the reins" of control of these vital offices that have been functioning so poorly for years. This action has resulted in the position of clerk of the court becoming a figurehead job with a $60,000 pay check. The clerk of the court never has to show up to work except to pick up his pay check. This is just one more way way the taxpayer is being taken advantage of.
The people involved in the deception of the raises should be identified. What else has been kept a secret from us? Are these the types of people we want running our government? At this time, on behalf of the people of Maryland, I am calling for our attorney general to investigate this conspiracy and set in motion the impeachment of the remaining elected officials who were involved this deception.
Gordon Boone III
On Dec. 3, Rep. Ben Cardin told about 20 people at a hearing in Columbia that Congress cannot and will not stop the president if he decides to start a war against Iraq. At the same time, Cardin reminded us that only Congress can initiate war.
Ben Cardin is a good congressman. So I was embarrassed by his defeatist attitude that Congress cannot stop the president from starting a war against Iraq.
He need not be so fatalistic. He can make a difference. He can propose legislation that describes exactly what will happen to any president who plays at being a dictator and breaks U.S. law by starting a war. The legislation should specify the president's arrest and impeachment proceedings.
The legislation should also spell out the consequences for accomplices. Any military officers or soldiers who take part in initiating a war without congressional consent should also be arrested.
Congressman Cardin could start drafting the legislation today.