Peace isn't in reach as conference opens
I think Gershon Baskin was dreaming when he wrote that "peace is within reach" ("Mideast peace is within reach; Annapolis is a start," Opinion
Commentary, Nov. 25).
Indeed, how can anything be accomplished in Annapolis?
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been a total bust in all her foreign policy ventures. The invasion of Iraq is just the most notorious debacle. Who could honestly believe she is capable of making peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians?
The same day Mr. Baskin's column appeared, The Sun published a very perceptive letter to the editor. It argued that the only way peace would be possible in the Holy Land is if the U.S. government cut off aid to Israel and forced an end to its occupation and the removal of settlements from Palestinian land ("Peace conference doomed to failure," Nov. 25).
But of course that is not going to happen. So the Annapolis peace conference is going to be the latest in a long list of Bush administration fiascoes.
Israel still struggles to survive as state
I wholeheartedly disagree with the writer of the letter "Peace conference doomed to failure" (Nov. 25), who completely blames Israel for its dilemma with the Palestinians.
It's true that there has been oppression of the Palestinians. But this is only because Israel has been fighting for its existence for years and will continue to fight for it until the end of time.
As for the peace conference in Annapolis, only time will tell if it will make an impact.
Arabs must learn to embrace peace
In "Search for Peace" (Nov. 25), Mark Matthews claims that the Madrid peace conference, orchestrated by then-Secretary of State James A. Baker III in 1991, made real progress in the search for peace between Arabs and Israelis. One can only point to the events of the last 16 years to question this conclusion.
Instead of bringing peace closer, the subsequent Oslo process only exacerbated the differences between the sides as the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yasser Arafat constantly increased their demands, without wanting peace.
Until all of the Arab nations and terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad realize that peace is in their interest, any agreement will be valueless as terror against Israel will continue.
Peace alone isn't an adequate goal
The Annapolis "Search for Peace" (Nov. 25) will fail, just as other peace talks have failed. And this is as it should be.
The search should be not for peace but for justice - justice for the Arab and Israeli peoples. There can be peace without justice. Slavery would be such a peace, as would genocide.
But peace without justice is hated both by international standards and by Scripture.
There is a name for peace without justice - oppression.
There is a price for unjust agreements - bloodshed and failure.
There is a ransom for unjust agreements - our children.
Search first for justice, and peace will be come.
Church must uphold its rules, traditions
Columnist Dan Rodricks and numerous writers of letters to the editor have missed the point about the firing of the Rev. Ray Martin as a pastor by Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien ("Church's 'scandal' is others' kindness," Nov. 18).
The state has laws, and when they are broken, the culprit brings consequences.
This principle also applies to the Catholic Church. And one of the prime responsibilities of an archbishop is to enforce church rules and regulations.
To attack the archbishop and make him the bad guy for fulfilling his responsibility to enforce the rules is unfair.
Yes, the Catholic Church does have laws and discipline.
That's one of the reasons it has existed for almost 2,000 years.
Stanley G. Piet
The writer is a retired deacon of the Roman Catholic Church.
Progressive tax rate essential to fairness
In response to the question "What's so unfair about flat tax rate?" (letters, Nov. 20), one needs to consider the minimum amount of money people need to survive.
For a family of four, that level, as defined by the federal poverty line, is about $20,000 a year. Anything above that level can be considered "disposable income."
Therefore, if a family of four makes $100,000, a 10 percent tax amounts to 12.5 percent of its disposable income (a tax bill of $10,000 on $80,000 of disposable income). But if that family makes $25,000, a 10 percent tax is equal to 50 percent of its disposable income (a tax bill of $2,500 on $5,000 of disposable income).
The math is clear: Without a progressive income tax system, we are condemning the poor to paying a larger percentage of their disposable available income in taxes than the rich do.
Noose is still symbol of racism and terror
The hangman's noose is a symbol of the racist, segregation-era violence against blacks ("Note, rope trigger probes," Nov. 22).
A frequent part of the Jim Crow-era Southern way of life, it is an unmistakable symbol of violence and terror that whites used to demonstrate their hatred for blacks.
The noose was not used just to punish an individual; it was used to send a message to blacks in general about respecting racial boundaries.
Like a burning cross on a lawn, a noose is not an ambiguous symbol. And indeed in the pre-civil rights era the noose was a very specific artifact used in the lynching of blacks.
Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham Sr.
The writer is president of the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Shoppers could put efforts to better use
Every "Black Friday," The Sun unwittingly shows us what is fundamentally wrong with this country: mobs of consumer lemmings lined up waiting to run over the shopping cliff because they think they're going to get a bargain on products most people can't afford but have been told to want by TV commercials ("Shoppers go for broke," Nov. 24).
If these good shoppers put as much energy into informing themselves about what is really happening in this country - learning how corporate power and government are working together to disenfranchise us, and how the Iraq war was begun to benefit corporate power and to keep a corrupt administration in power - and then doing something about what they've learned, this would be a much better country.