"Bad to Bad" {editorial, Dec. 31} is commendable for its timely criticism of Israeli tactics and force used in "handling" Palestinian protesters on the West Bank and Gaza. However, some contentions in the editorial are misleading.

First, Palestinian "failure" to field a competent leadership is primarily a result of Israeli policies. By attempting to install quisling mayors in the occupied territories, by closing Palestinian universities and by deporting prominent writers, educators and leaders, Israel is depriving the people of many of their natural leaders.

Second, as The Post notes, Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza are living under harsh military occupation. In such a situation, injustice is the order of the day. The uncomfortable reality is that the situation of the Palestinians bears a remarkable similarity to that of black South Africans. Where there is a state policy of repression of human rights and personal dignity, sooner or later there will also be widespread revolt, for one group of human beings cannot live under the permanent subjugation of another.

C. McDAVID

Washington

I read the letter {Dec. 28} from Jessica Finley about conditions in refugee camps in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The conditions are lamentable, but is the blame really Israel's?

When Israel became a nation in 1948, it issued a no-expulsion edict. In fact it offered Arabs citizenship.

Let us not forget that the refugees in Lebanon and Gaza fled a war that started when six Arab armies invaded Israel with the avowed aim of driving the Jews into the sea. Neighboring Arab states could have repatriated the refugees of Lebanon and Gaza 39 years ago. Instead, they maintained the status quo in order to make a political statement.

JEFFREY P. JAROSZ

Baltimore

I have just returned from Israel, where I was present during Arab disturbances. The reality of the situation is far different from the one portrayed by The Post in recent articles.

The average man on the street sees a hostile Arab population treated to every advantage by a weak, vascilating Israeli government, while Jews are becoming fearful, second-class citizens in their own country.

He sees Arabs in Judea and Samaria illegally taking over more and more land, pursuing an unprecedented building boom assisted by multimillions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the PLO and the United States. At the same time, the Israeli government forbids Jews to purchase land or to build without special -- and difficult to come by -- government permission. "All we want is the same rights as Arabs," I was told by Israelis.

He sees Arabs going straight to universities without army duty or any national service, while Jewish youths must put off education and careers for three years. He sees these same Arab youths, with scholarships from the government or Jewish charities, vociferously calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.

He sees Arabs escape paying their share of income tax, while he pays burdensome taxes and his resentment grows.

He sees the smashed-in-head of 8-year-old Danny Ofer, or the tortured body of Hanoch Deneman or the slain corpse of Yigal Shahaf and countless others, all brutally murdered by Arabs, and he is afraid to walk in his own country.

He sees terrorist groups freely organize and issue newspapers in Israel under the triple protection of the weak Israeli government and interfering U.S. government and the Israeli left wing, and his resentment grows.

He sees an entire population on both sides of the so-called Green Line almost mockingly call for Jewish blood and the demise of the state of Israel, while the Israeli government, fearful of America, metes out little or no punishment.

He sees 1,100 terrorists and murderers freed by Israel, while Jewish patriots from the underground, who tried to protect their communities and families, serve life sentences, and he becomes afraid and resentful.

And more and more he whispers: "If the Jewish state is to survive, the Arabs must go." He knows that the Arabs have 20 states of their own, that 800,000 Jews fled Arab countries, that populations have been exchanged in all parts of the world and that a country is not obligated to commit suicide. So more and more he whispers: "They must go."

PETER E. GOLDMAN

Silver Spring