Ombudsman Joseph Laitin wrote out Webster's definition of snafu: (s)ituation, (n)ormal, (a)ll, (f)ouled -- a euphemism -- (u)p {Nov. 8}. He then added, "Thus, the dictionary editors retained their etymological integrity without offending the sensibilities of little old ladies."

I'm a little old lady (handy with a cane!) and I resent his derogatory reference. He should be thankful there are enough of us around to retain the integrity of our mores.

-- Virginia M. Hitz Bring Back the Sections List Where is the list of sections that belongs on the front page? How am I to find the comics? Do I have to turn to the Index on page A2?

Omitting the list of sections on the front page was not an improvement. Please put it back. -- Alex Lehrer 'Hatchet Job' Jack Anderson is losing his touch. His hatchet job on Guenther van Well, the departing ambassador of West Germany, was amateurish by even Anderson's standards {Nov. 3}. It was barely two lines of fact supported by several paragraphs of innuendo.

That Ambassador van Well was a member of the Nazi Party and served in the Wehrmacht (the only facts in the article) doesn't separate him from several thousand Germans, and while that is scarcely reason to suggest he might have been a war criminal, Anderson seems to have found a way to do that too. After all, when van Well was the FRG representative to the United Nations he presented his credentials to none other than Kurt Waldheim. To whom might he have been expected to present them, George Steinbrenner? Since the U.S. representative to the United Nations also presented his credentials to Waldheim, does that make him a war criminal?

-- Bill Price What About the Palestinians? As a Palestinian Arab, an Israeli and an American citizen, I have found the debate over whether the United States or Israel is the "Promised Land" for the Jewish people sad but intriguing. No one has yet considered the tragedy of the Palestinian people -- except Donald Wolpe, indirectly {"No, for Jews the Promised Land Is Israel," Free for All, Oct. 24}.

Regardless of the Biblical idea that Palestine was promised to the Jewish people, it is a fact that there was another people living there when Israel was first conceived and then established, a people who consequently became stateless. Such an "acquired" status is not unknown to most Jews in the world. The Palestinians have shared another of the Jewish experiences: they have been a "people without a country of their own . . . the scum of the earth -- the inevitable prey of the beasts," to quote, as Wolpe does, Israeli author Amos Elon.

And prey they have become. The beast, however, has turned out to be no less than the Jewish state. Arab governments, shamefully, and others have also preyed upon the people of Palestine because they have been stateless. There is really no escape from it: while the establishment of Israel may have resolved the victimization of one people, it victimized another.

A solution can and must be found that would leave that region with no prey and no beast. For centuries the Jewish people were history's victims, truth be told, not because of anything the Arabs, and certainly not the Palestinians, did. All decent people should be delighted when the pain and suffering of one people ends. But it didn't have to end the way it did, with yesteryear's victim becoming today's merciless victimizer.

We all should work for a day not too far in the future when Armenians, Kurds, Jews and, yes, Palestinians will have a state of their own. A world without human prey and human beasts is a better world, one that can provide real security for all people, including the people of Israel. -- Ghassan Bishara The writer is a Washington correspondent for the Palestinian weekly Al Fajr. Compassion -- or Integrity? In reply to the unctuous piece by Murray Kempton {op-ed, Oct. 29} -- and your past editorials to the same effect -- about Judge Bork and ''compassion,'' I submit that ''integrity'' is what a Supreme Court justice should have, not ''compassion.'' Look them up in a dictionary: the former describes a dedication to principles, the latter implies that one will find some way to help those one considers in need regardless of what the law provides.

Liberals apparently think ''compassion'' is limited to aid for the popular minorities. But what if a justice felt ''compassion'' for a fetus about to be aborted? Should he ignore Roe v. Wade ? The senators who voted against Bork, however, lack both integrity and compassion; they are merely puppets of extremist organizations that, by the way, do not represent the views of all blacks or women. Those who feel compassion for the rights of the middle class would do well to remove those senators from the public trough.

-- Christopher H. Hoving