Gary Pilcher's letter "Ayers Issue: Is There Atonement Without Repentance?" (Oct. 21), in which he defends forgiving Bill Ayers by comparing him to Menachem Begin is pernicious. First, there is the difference in context. Mr. Begin was fighting to establish a country against vicious enemies -- brutally anti- Semitic Arabs and slightly anti-Semitic British. The British had reneged completely on the Balfour/Churchill promise to establish a Jewish homeland once the British gave up control of the Palestinian Mandate.
Mr. Begin did not take part in the massacre of Arabs at Deir Yassen (neither did regular soldiers of the Haganah or Irgun who condemned what they saw had happened). Also, the bombing of the King David Hotel was not meant to kill: It was established by both the British and Israelis that at least 30 minutes warning had been given to evacuate.
If Mr. Pilcher wants a Jew to compare with Bill Ayers may I suggest Yigal Amir, who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995. Like Bill Ayers, he remains unrepentant, though he has been in prison for 12 years.
And the Pilcher letter:
Mr. Frank reminds me of the redemption of many famous persons whose activities earlier in life have been labeled "terrorist" (or "treasonous," as the British viewed our Founding Fathers during our Revolution).
One prominent example is Menachem Begin, prime minister of Israel and previously, from 1943-1948, the commander of the Irgun which, under his leadership, blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91; killed over 100 persons in the Deir Yassin village massacre; and attacked the British in countless other incidents. Irgun was twice described by the New York Times as a terrorist organization in 1947, and was condemned by the World Zionist Congress and others.
Thirty years later, in 1978, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Anwar Sadat. The prominent Likud Party, which Mr. Begin led, traces its roots to the Irgun.
P.S. Actually, it seems there's a trend on this theme for here's an earlier letter we found in the Salt Lake City Tribune:
Public Forum Letter
Salt Lake Tribune
Much has been said about Barack Obama's alleged "palling around" with former terrorists. But the same could be said about the late President Ronald Reagan - in the White House, no less!
On Sept. 9, 1981, a tuxedo-clad president and Mrs. Reagan hosted a White House state dinner for then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Who was Begin? In former days, he was a leader of the Jewish terror group the Irgun. Under Begin, this group conducted a campaign of extortion, kidnapping and bombings, including the attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that killed 91 people. No less a personage than David Ben-Gurion denounced the Irgun and Begin as an "enemy of the Jewish people." No doubt, time had changed the heart of Begin, who was later able to forge a peace treaty with Egypt and made a major contribution toward a peaceful Middle East.
The Republican attempt to distort Obama's record leaves the party open to similar charges, which reminds us that no one's hands are clean in this respect.
William E. Hewitt Jr.
Salt Lake City