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The West BankYour editorial July 16, "Opposition...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The West Bank

Your editorial July 16, "Opposition to Peace," correctly states the various challenges to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. However, included is the factually incorrect phrase "to turn Palestinian land over to Palestinian rule."

The West Bank is not and has never been Palestinian Arab land. The West Bank is disputed land, over which both Israelis and Arabs feel they have legitimate claims.

Just as Jerusalem was never an Arab capital, the West Bank was never a Palestinian state.

In fact, Hebron in the West Bank was once the capital of the Jewish commonwealth and had a large Jewish presence until 1929, when Arab rioters massacred most of the Jewish inhabitants and forcibly drove out the surviving Jews.

Although Israel has as much a right to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and perhaps even more than the Palestinian Arabs, the majority of American Jews and Israeli citizens favor continuation of the peace process.

In today's global political environment, Israel will have to relinquish jurisdiction over a large portion of the West Bank (and Gaza) in order to attain peace, for which it has striven for so long.

Bernard Siegel

Irene Siegel

Baltimore

U.N. Promises

The refugee-choked road from Srebrenica to Potocari is littered with the shattered remains of collective security. Portraits of human suffering unseen in Europe since World War II appear nightly on the evening news.

Serbian soldiers, victorious over a people denied the right to defend themselves, celebrate tonight by raping the women and killing the men of the small Bosnian town they captured.

All this because the United Nations failed to live up to the promise it made to the Bosnian Muslims. In creating so-called "safe areas," the U.N. encouraged people living in the vulnerable countryside to flock to the towns, which would presumably be defended by U.N. troops.

If not, what was it that made them "safe"?

That Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and special envoy Yasushi Akashi seemed determined to resolve the Balkan conflict through negotiation is understandable but naive.

Theirs is an effort destined to fail for the same reasons the League of Nations failed to stop German aggression prior to the outbreak of World War II: There are no consequences for the Serbs.

They can break promises, lie and refuse to negotiate without the threat of serious retaliation from the U.N.

European countries with soldiers in Bosnia now face a moral dilemma: fight or flee.

The single hope to which the Muslims now cling is that France, Britain, Germany and -- dare we hope -- the U.S. will now summon the fortitude to demonstrate that they are indeed great powers: countries capable of action benefiting the many and the helpless, not just themselves.

Having lost the moral and diplomatic battles at the negotiating table, the U.N. now sees its mission in the field on the edge of collapse as well.

It -- and the world -- have learned, painfully, that peace-keeping is folly when there is no peace, and that murderers and thugs don't negotiate. They deceive.

Jeffrey A. Liss

Baltimore

Bashing CEOs

OK. That's it. I've had it.

Your paper has committed a variety of offenses in the past (having largely to do with poor writing, poor critical thinking and a tendency toward extreme political bias in what should be objective reporting).

But your front page article on July 13 ("Only the Best For Forbes' CEO Forum") has finally driven me to comment.

Just what was the point of this article? It wasn't clever satire. It wasn't good society writing. It certainly wasn't informative on any score. It was pure juvenile derision of corporate executives.

What do you think corporate chief executive officers are about?

Do you think they don't work hard? Do you think they inherit their positions rather than earn them? Do you think they spend all their time at cocktail parties making idiotic small talk?

Do you think they don't play an important role in creating jobs and economic opportunity in this country?

Do you think they are unworthy of at least some small measure of respect for their accomplishments?

I suspect that there is some good reason these CEOs have come together, that there might be some pretty interesting substance to their meetings. It is, after all, an unusual gathering.

But I wouldn't know anything about that from reading your article. And if I were one of those CEOs and read that article, I don't think my (already unfavorable) opinion about doing business in Maryland would be improved.

It is bad enough that the article was so poor. But to have it rate a prominent position on the front page which should be reserved for good writing and matters of substance is completely pathetic.

But then, what should we expect from a paper that places business news at the back of the sports section?

Kate Chambers

Baltimore

Reasons for City's Decline Omitted

It puzzles us that The Sun can deliver a July 19 front-page article on the city's economic woes that manages not to mention the word taxes. Perhaps some facts are so inconvenient that they have to be ignored if the discussion is go to on.

Your reporter and his authorities omit the fact that the city simply is not competitive with other jurisdictions on property tax rates, and neither city nor state is exactly a beacon in the night to a mobile population looking at competitive income tax rates.

At the margin, that circumstance has a marked effect on who lives here and who doesn't.

It borders on fatuous for The Sun to described the city as a victim of laptop computers and other "centrifugal forces spinning jobs into the hinterlands."

There is no natural tendency toward the hinterlands, centrifugal or otherwise, but rather a movement by rational people who find outlying areas a better deal than Baltimore.

They would rather live and work in a safer, slightly lower-tax environment where, if they happen to have school-age children, they don't (like even our mayor) feel compelled to pay for private schools.

Where they choose to live, service and retail jobs follow, as do larger employers looking for a skilled labor force. This is the right reading of cause and effect.

The loss of jobs that Baltimore has suffered through bank mergers and so forth is the sort that occurs everywhere in a dynamic economy.

The problem is that there is no dynamic sector of the Baltimore economy to offset the areas of decline, except a brimming public trough, where the well-connected and the wannabees belly up and ask for "incentives" and "public investment." Much of that sentiment was offered in your report under the "solutions" heading.

Somewhere in the decline of a city there is an ethical issue that nobody cares to address.

Baltimore has made itself a magnet for a poor, crime-infested population that drives an ever-growing part of the middle class of every race out of the city.

You will not see anyone running for public office proposing to reduce the incentives for this underclass to live and grow here (cutting taxes and cutting welfare services would restore some balance) because any candidate who did so would be vilified from editorial pages and pulpits.

But the alternatives are fanciful promises to improve the schools (ignoring the dirty little secret that it's the students whom middle class parents fear); to deal with crime (ignoring the fact that a significant percentage of the underclass practices crime -- far too many to jail); and finally, every stump-speaker's panacea, to create jobs (ignoring the reluctance of people playing with their own money to do so).

The larger point that your reporter neglected is that welfare states (including little ones) don't, literally, work.

Absent a bigger federal or state dole, Baltimore will either reform or decline and nothing in the current mayoral campaign suggests a mood for reform.

The election won't be the last word, however, because people will go on voting with their feet.

John C. Boland

Mira L. Boland

Baltimore

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