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Of all my letters that this paper has printed in the past few years, there’s one that I regret writing: “Odd ideas for Mideast peace” (Sept. 20, 2006). My statement that “With or without Israel as their whipping boy, the Arab states will forever fight among themselves — and among the different sects of Islam, as they’re doing now — and they’ll always hate and blame Americans for all of their ills” was, in retrospect, wrong — and probably deeply offensive to Arabs everywhere.

There is absolutely nothing in Arabs’ character that predisposes them to violence or hatred of Americans or anyone else; nor is there any reason that the Arab states cannot one day thrive as democracies. Although many Muslims wrongly believe that Christians and Jews are waging a war against their religion, the overwhelming majority of them are hoping and praying for the bloodshed to end. The killing will never end until they understand that we seek mutual respect for their faith and ours.

Many Americans believe we are obliged to contain the violence that some believe we started in Iraq. In fact, Saddam Hussein was responsible for the war through his brutality and his continued defiance of U.N. weapons inspectors. We won’t know the results of evacuating until we do so, but we owe it to Iraq and to ourselves to take the chance to expedite withdrawal.

gary henscheid

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