Hyman Bookbinder {Free for All, July 21} said that Israel is not indifferent to the deaths of Arab children. He approvingly quoted Golda Meir on the subject: "Some day we may be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we will never forgive them for making us kill some of theirs."

Unfortunately Meir's statement -- while pithy, noble sounding and quotable -- is not as logical as it seems. Analyzed it says, "The Arabs are wrong in killing our children, but some day we may be able to forgive them. The Arabs are wrong in making us kill some of their children, and for this we will never be able to forgive them." In other words, the enemy is guilty not only for his own acts of cruelty but for ours as well.

No one forces the Israelis to kill children. The Israelis must accept the responsibility for their own actions.

-- Thomas J. Grimes

Hyman Bookbinder does not even attempt to rebut the facts in Colman McCarthy's critique of Israel's human rights abuses. Instead, he repeats Israel's line that the intifada has used Palestinian children as cannon fodder, a line reminiscent of Gen. William Westmoreland's infamous remark that Vietnamese culture does not value human life as we do. It is in the nature of those who have a delusion of ethnic superiority to question the humanity of others as a justification for killing them.

-- Anaya Samad Farah

Hyman Bookbinder called Colman McCarthy "reckless," "vituperative" and "slanderous" because McCarthy pointed out that the Israeli army killed 159 Palestinian children between December 1987 and December 1988. Bookbinder did not refute the figures, but he indicated that he couldn't forgive the Palestinians "for making us kill" their children. This was outrageous.

McCarthy noted that more than half of these children (average age -- 10) were not near a demonstration when killed. Their only provocation was that they were Palestinian and had the misfortune of living under Israeli occupation.

It is one thing to defend the Israeli army's shooting of children. It is quite another to blame the children for being shot. -- Jeffrey V. Steele