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Responding to TWA Flight 847 hostage-taking

The taking of the hostages on TWA Flight 847 represents the method the Shiites have chosen to proclaim their political frustration and anger to the American public. The US is viewed as the enemy because of our support of Israel and its policies. Isn't it time for us to reevaluate how our tax dollars are being used in the Middle East? Judith H. Alger Rumney, N.H. Don't these incidents of local, largely untraceable violence point to miscalculation in official circles? Instead of pouring billions into fantastic globe-destroying weapons, couldn't we channel some of those same billions into learning to understand other nations and peoples better -- their history, their needs, their modes of thought, their potential contributions to our society and ours to theirs?

We're the most powerful nation on earth! But powerful for what? Military might and military action are largely outmoded on a worldwide scale because of the complexity of the forces in the world today and because of the unbelievably destructive power of modern weaponry.

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When are we going to start trying to put the emphasis in the right place? Carol C. Lindsey Boston

When we consider the large-scale preparations going on by the US government today for possible warfare with the Soviet Union, is there any wonder that terrorist attacks are spreading like wildfire all over the globe?

We might well ask, why do terrorists commit these tragic deeds? Well, from their point of view, why not? If the world were to be destroyed by nuclear warfare, why not at least get the temporary glory of setting it all off?

Many who commit these acts are members of religious sects that instill the belief that it is an honor to die for their deeds.

There aren't enough policemen in the world to stop terrorism. The only thing that will stop it is to give these people something to live for, rather than to die for. Geraldine Fulenwider Lewiston, Maine

It seems the height of hyprocisy for the US to condemn the terrorism of others while at the same time condoning, even supporting, terrorism by the ``contras,'' South Africa, El Salvador, the Marcos regime in the Philippines, and elsewhere.

What does it say to the rest of the world when the United States announced that we will ignore the World Court, and when we prosecute our own church people for providing sanctuary for terrorized victims? Either we should refuse to participate in terrorism ourselves -- or it will continue to haunt us. Rev. Henry L. Bird, Chairman New Mexico Conference of Churches Task Force on Peace with Justice Socorro, N.M.

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If Americans would examine their government's foreign policy since World War II, they might not be so shocked by the bombings and hijackings directed against them.

For example, in Iran (1953) the CIA overthrew popular leader Mossadeq and reinstalled the Shah -- thus fomenting the current fanatic vengeance.

In Palestine, the US helped Zionists from all over the world dispossess the native inhabitants. The destruction of once beautiful Lebanon is the latest byproduct of the alliance with Zionism.

State terror provokes individual and group terror in response. Annihilating victims who strike back in anger (and innocents as well) is not the answer -- redressing the wrong is appropriate to our democratic traditions. Nancy Withington Carmel, Calif.

The hostage-takers are not asking that Israel or other countries turn loose convicted or suspected murderers. They are asking that 700 people who are innocent of crimes be released. Those Lebanese taken at the close of the Israeli occupation are being held illegally.

The traditional United States position in world conflicts has been to side with the moral position. For the US to state the moral issues involved would seem to set in motion a defusing of the Middle East confusions.

It would also offer the opportunity not just to show compassion to the hostages, but also show that people everywhere should be treated fairly.

This kind of public statement -- including a request for Israel to release the 700 -- would put the United States on the side of what's right rather than on the side of condemnation of everything the Muslim Shiites stand for. At the same time the US could say that those responsible for the killing of the American passenger should be brought to trial. Paul H. Gardner Needham, Mass.

The terrorists claim they carried out these criminal acts in order to obtain the release of Lebanese still held by Israel.

Yet it is common knowledge that Israel had been releasing prisoners at regular intervals, and the balance would have been released in a matter of weeks. Thus, the terrorists did not hijack the plane to obtain the release of prisoners. In fact, they hijacked the plane to prevent releasing prisoners.

The terrorists know this act would force Israel to cease releasing prisoners. Thus, if the terrorists kill the balance of the hostages, they hope that many Americans would blame Israel rather than the Arabs. This would then lead to friction between the US and Israel, the true goal of these terrorists, for they are merely the proxies of Syria. Herbert Schwartz Vineland, N.J.

The article on the Shiites [``Hostages: fanaticism or grievances?'' June 21] seems to seek an explanation for their attitudes from the upheavals they suffered. Surely the general unfriendly attitudes toward Israel and the US stem from something deeper than that. There are Shiites in Afghanistan right now who feel the US is worse than the USSR. Nothing the US has done can warrant this. Peter Tormay Cambridge, Mass.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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