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Self-Determination in the Balkans

The opinion-page column "Lessons From Yugoslavia's Turmoil," July 29, touches well on some points about the Yugoslav mosaic.It seems very apparent that the creation of Yugoslavia in 1918 was a tragic mistake and an injustice. Too many different nations with different tongues, religions, historical backgrounds, and cultures were unceremoniously dumped under the unworthy rule of Serbia. In 1945, Yugoslavia was rebuilt, and it became a police state for most of its component nations, especially for Albanians. Recently, human rights in Yugoslavia have been badly abused. For the Balkan nations to live in peace, they have to become truly just. According to some Western diplomats, Serbia would welcome a civil war in which it could grab territory in Croatia and Bosnia, creating a new Greater Serbia. Nationwide violence could also create an uprising by 4 million Albanians living in the province of Kosovo under repressive rule by the Serbs. The European Community has made efforts - without much success - to bring peace to Yugoslavia. But so far, only Germany and Austria have endorsed the right to self-determination for all the nations in Yugoslavia. It is high time for the West to seriously consider the desire of Slovenians, Croatians, and Albanians to break free from Belgrade and integrate into Western Europe. This desire has been articulated for years. Should the West give the nations in Yugoslavia the right to self-determination, how could it then, for example, refuse the Baltic states this right? Ylber Gashi, North Bergen, N.J.

Arab-Americans' sense of history Regarding the opinion-page column "Lebanon Through Ramzi's Eyes," Aug. 2: The nine-year-old boy's rediscovery of Lebanon as his homeland reminds me again of the exquisite sense of history and proportion held by so many Arab-Americans. In a country which has long maligned the Arab character, immigrants from the Middle East continue to display patience and tolerance toward bigots in the US and toward violent factions in their homelands. Arab-Americans are a special people whose vision is often ignored in the frenzy of nationalism which plagues both sides. Deborah Halter, Little Rock, Ark.

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Selective outrage on human rights The article "Kuwait Squeezes Out Palestinians," Aug. 2, convinces me that the world community is hypocritical. This article could not be more exact in describing the daily abuses endured by the Palestinians living in Kuwait, but it proves to me that America and the rest of the world do not care about the Palestinians at all. The Bush administration has turned its face from these abuses, yet is the first to criticize Israel whenever it mistreats Palestinians. Yes, Palestinians are often abused by Israelis, but why does the world ignore the abuses that Palestinians outside the Israeli territories endure? This is most prevalent in the United Nations, which repeatedly condemns Israeli for abusing Palestinians in the territories, yet chooses to ignore the abuses Palestinians receive in Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, and other parts of the Arab world, abuses which far outweigh any mistreatment the Palestinians receive from Israel. More action by Congress, the president, and the UN must be taken to acknowledge that this type of Arab-versus-Arab abuse is not acceptable. However, until the world condemns such abuse, it is unfair to take seriously the standards by which Israel is criticized. Joshua Goodman, Shaker Heights, Ohio

Justice via the media Regarding the opinion-page column "Judges Should Gag the 'Gag Order Aug. 5: I'm really surprised at this one-sided attack against the prosecution in the William Kennedy Smith rape case. Has everyone forgotten - or has it been accepted as "normal that it was the defense side that first maligned the character of the opposition? (The alleged victim, remember?) When the prosecution, contrary to expectation and conventional procedure, gave back what they got, everybody got all upset! In justice, everyone should have kept quiet until the trial. In reality, if one side is going to try the case in the papers, why shouldn't the other? Ann C. Somers, Pepperell, Mass.

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