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Newspaper is right place for Middle East discussion

Dear Editor:Buster Feldman and Sue Gray both share a goal to bring peace to the Middle East. Both speak in a soft tone and mostly avoid aggressive and inappropriate language.Buster argues that Sue Gray is wasting time in writing to The Aspen Times: both hers and ours. Yet he writes his own letter. If her letters were irrelevant or powerless, they would simply be skimmed and ignored. Instead, many responses have proved this controversial topic really needs airing in Aspen. There is much yet to be learned about the Middle East which is not being told in the news.Unlike Buster, I would argue that there is no more appropriate place for reasoned dialogue about the Israel-Palestinian issue than the local public forum of The Aspen Times. Aspen is one of few places where U.S. policies are sometimes informally formulated and Washington lobbyists are being financed. This discussion could affect U.S. foreign policy. Actual politicians, lobbyists and voters read this newspaper. And U.S. foreign policy apparently affects Middle East foreign and domestic policies.Unlike diatribes as described, Sue Gray’s remarks seem very calm and reasoned to me and fit the facts as I have been able to learn them.People who notice the effect on the region of a multi-billion dollar investment imbalance will not be likely to argue that a more equitable view is obtained by counting up the dead on either side or equating aircraft-launched rocket attacks with suicide blasts. Horrific but dry death statistics commonly available to Americans are only the tip of the unseen iceberg. Murder statistics may not begin to inform us about the relative situation of Palestinians and Israelis. It is almost pathetic to compare the policies of a powerful first world nation to the activities of a relatively helpless Palestinian Authority.We Americans seriously need an open airing of the full facts of life in the region. We need an open and dignified discussion with participation from but without obstruction or distraction by those who prefer to stop the discussion. The problem is Buster says he does not prefer his conversation with Sue Gray to take place in the newspaper. Any nation’s democracy depends not only on the legal right but also the practical ability for dissenting views to appear. This is more critical in times when whole stories are not being told. Democracy also depends on its citizens to prevent governments and media corporations and dissenters themselves from squelching the conversation for their own particular reasons. Now is the time for citizens to call for a full and open discussion without fear of reprisal or other pressures for self censorship. What better place than in this newspaper?Harvie BranscombEl Jebel


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