Stuart E. Eizenstat's criticism of Colman McCarthy {Free for All, Aug. 4} was as ad hominem as the earlier letter by Hyman Bookbinder {Free for All, July 21.}

Neither Eizenstat nor Bookbinder replied to McCarthy's point in his July 15 column, namely, that Sweden's Save the Children, Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights have condemned Israeli brutality toward Palestinian civilians, including children.

Eizenstat and Bookbinder both refer to Bookbinder's involvement with Middle East Human Rights Watch. Yet that group, far from apologizing for or attempting to whitewash Israeli actions, has sharply criticized Israeli policy.

The above groups, along with the State Department, U.S. church groups and Israeli human rights groups do not believe that Israeli violations of human rights are necessary to avert "national suicide" (Eizenstat).

Rather than shooting the messenger, Bookbinder and Eizenstat ought to heed the message. The breaking of bones of children, torture of detainees, blowing up of homes, expropriation of land, diversion of water, expulsions, etc., are not comparable to Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus (Eizenstat's suggestion). They are necessary to push native Palestinians out of the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli actions are as calculated and criminal as the actions of states that persecute, for example, blacks or Jews. Supporters of Israel would object sharply (and rightly) if apologists for such regimes used euphemisms like "mistakes" and "defensive steps" (Bookbinder's words).

If supporters of Israel will not publicly condemn Israeli oppression of Palestinians, then they have no moral grounds on which to expect others to support equal rights for Jews in Palestine/Israel or elsewhere. If they believe Palestinians deserve equal rights with Israeli Jews, then they will see the criticism of Colman McCarthy as justified, as helpful in the struggle for a just peace -- a prerequisite for Israel's survival. As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, "We will either live together as brothers and sisters, or we will perish together as fools." -- Edmund R. Hanauer The writer is executive director of SEARCH for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel, a nonprofit human rights organization.