How to view Hamas
Re "The new Hamas," Opinion, Jan. 31
Fawaz A. Gerges argues that Israel should negotiate directly with Hamas because, although Hamas has not discarded its core ideology that Jews have no place on what it considers Islamic lands, some Hamas leaders might be willing to accept a long-term truce.
When last year's cease-fire began, Hamas had rockets that reached the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. By the end of the cease-fire, which Hamas used as cover to smuggle more lethal weapons into Gaza, it had rockets that reached Beersheba, which is much farther away. It wouldn't take long into a truce for a Hamas-governed Palestinian state to have missiles that reach Tel Aviv.
Unless any Palestinian group is willing to put aside "armed resistance," unambiguously accept Israel's right to exist and embrace peace, Israel would be suicidal to enable the formation of a state led by those who remain committed to its destruction.
Gerges is straightforward and on target. If the U.S. is ever going to regain the respect lost during recent presidential administrations, it must change its preferential treatment of Israel and deal directly and fairly with Muslim countries.
As far as Hamas being labeled a terrorist organization, most Americans must have forgotten that two Israeli prime ministers were once terrorists hunted by the British. Both of these men, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, were welcomed at the White House. I wonder if the present White House administration has the courage to welcome Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal?
Gerges asks why Hamas should bargain away its call for the destruction of Israel before talks even begin. The answer is simple: Hamas should bargain it away to allow talks to begin.
CCC a fine idea
Re "Harking back to the CCC," Feb. 1
I strongly endorse the reestablishment of something akin to the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. I worked alongside many people who started out in the CCC and went on to become regular employees of the U.S. Forest Service.
Let's not limit our sights to the national parks but expand such a program to all public lands and urge support of parallel programs at the state level throughout the country.
Doing so will help restore and sustain our national heritage. It also will provide skills training for thousands and get urban youth into rural and wild environments, which surely did this New York City kid a lot of good.
The writer is a professor emeritus of geography at Cal State Fullerton.