‘Reagan as 41st Hostage’

Conrad’s cartoon is an outrageous example of blaming the victim for the crimes of the perpetrator.

All Americans support President Reagan’s principled and determined refusal to yield to terrorist demands. There is only one course for our country to follow, and he has taken that course: to insist on the immediate release of every American held hostage. The hijacking, the murder of an American serviceman and the abduction of the passengers have posed a great threat to the very integrity of American citizenship. If we should surrender now, every American passport-holder becomes a potential victim of Arab terrorism.

It is not only the terrorists themselves but also the governments of Iran, Syria, Libya and every other state that supplies and supports terrorism that stand guilty of this outrage. These governments furnish the arms, the money and the political backing that makes it possible for Arab terrorists to twice bomb our embassy, destroy our Marine barracks and now to hijack an American airliner and kidnap its passengers. Our country cannot permit such states to avoid accountability for the crimes they have encouraged.

Nor can we overlook the culpability of those governments that have welcomed terrorist leaders and treated them as heads of state, thus validating and encouraging terrorism everywhere. They, too, share responsibility for today’s events.


The cruelty of the terrorists and the racism and hate that motivate them is further demonstrated by their ugly action in singling out passengers with so-called Jewish-sounding names and holding them separately. This vicious selection process contains the echoes of Auschwitz and the Holocaust.

If there is any conclusion to be drawn from the terrible events of the past several days, it is the importance of Israel as our country’s strong and reliable ally in the region, a nation whose democratic values are consistent with our own and which joins us in rejecting any surrender to terrorist blackmail.


Los Angeles


Rabbi Ott is chair of the Commission on the Middle East of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles.

The Times has received 85 letters on the cartoon; all but 3 were critical.