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Playing the Islamic card

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June 9, 2008

I WAS dismayed that Alan Dershowitz referred to Sirhan Sirhan's assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as the "beginning of Islamic terrorism in America" ("Slaying gave US a first taste of Mideast terror," Page A1, June 5).

Sirhan, a Christian Palestinian immigrant, said he was angry at Kennedy because he supported Israel in the 1967 war over the rights of the Palestinians. This was an instance of one Christian killing another Christian for political, not religious, reasons.

Why does Dershowitz conflate Palestinian with Islamic, other than to spread fear of Muslims? I think it is for a similar reason that he equates Israel with Judaism. Therefore, any criticism of Israel's policies toward Palestinians can be denounced as anti-Semitic.

MARILYN LEVIN
Arlington

ATTEMPTS TO spin the tragic assassination of Robert Kennedy as a prelude to today's problems between the United States and the Middle East collapse under the weight of the facts.

Alan Dershowitz's suggestion that a 40-year-old crime committed by a lone gunman - a Christian Arab who moved to the United States at age 12 - could be plausibly counted as "the beginning of Islamic terrorism in America" strains credulity. This is as absurd as Ayman al-Zawahiri's claim that the modern state of Israel is a direct extension of the medieval Crusades. Such illogical readings of the past do nothing to advance the mutual understanding between peoples that is so urgently required in today's world.

DARRYL LI
Cambridge
The writer is a doctoral candidate in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies at Harvard University.

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