I have no doubt that George Mitchell is a great man; a brilliant diplomat, a stalwart patriot and a phenomenal role model for young Mainers.

The Press Herald’s response to his resignation, though well-intended, detracts from his achievements. That George Mitchell is an intelligent man prompts me to believe his resignation is a wake-up call: The conventional style of babysitting diplomacy is dead.

Henry Kissinger, Camp David and Oslo couldn’t find a Mideast peace. Why should Mitchell be different? The fundamental problem is not lack of American effort — perhaps better to call it meddling or intervention — but rather a lack of a people’s voice in the process.

The reaction to his resignation from both supporters and detractors has one disastrous commonality: It disenfranchises the very people whom peace in Israel-Palestine most affects by putting all the eggs in the basket of international diplomacy.

Supporters (like the Press Herald) say that if peace comes, it will be because of Mitchell’s groundwork. Detractors say there is no peace now, therefore Mitchell failed.

If a peace in Israel-Palestine comes in my lifetime, it will not owe anything to the efforts of outsiders or politicians. It will reflect a collective effort between Israelis, Palestinians, Armenians, Ethiopians, even Syrians and Jordanians. It will be trans-national, trans-religious and trans-ethnic.

I could not possibly pretend to know how this will happen, but I imagine the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” are a reliable indicator.

I applaud Mitchell on his resignation from an impossible job. He has extracted himself from this downward spiral of endless, futile “negotiations,” and I can only hope that rather than speculating on various ratios of failure and success, we learn from him.

We need to re-approach our unbalanced relationships with Israeli and Palestinian “leadership” and our involvement in a struggle that means life or death — but not ours.

Audrey Farber


Former Sen. George Mitchell recently resigned as primary U.S. mediator between the Israelis and the Palestinians after two years of fruitless negotiations.

Press reports state that, while talks were promising at the beginning, they collapsed after Israel declared that it would resume building settlements on occupied Palestinian land. The U.S. government considers these settlements illegal and a major impediment to achieving an Arab-Israeli peace, a top priority of U.S. foreign policy.

For more than 40 years, the U.S. government has repeatedly asked the government of Israel not to build such “settlements” (some as large as 30,000 residents) on Palestinian land. Since then, successive Israeli governments have built settlements that collectively now contain a population of approximately 500,000 Israelis.

Some weeks ago, on the eve of White House talks between President Shimon Peres of Israel and President Obama, officials in Jerusalem took steps to advance approximately 1,000 units of new housing in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and a disputed area of Jerusalem.

About one year previously, while Vice President Joseph Biden was visiting Israel, the Israeli government announced 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

The United States gives Israel approximately $3 billion per year in foreign aid. Yet, the response of the Israeli government to U.S. requests that it place a moratorium on new settlements — apparently timed to embarrass our highest elected officials — is essentially and conspicuously, “Stuff it.”

Under the circumstances, it appears reasonable to ask the members of our congressional delegation, if they vote for continuing foreign aid to Israel, whether they are seeking to advance the foreign policy of the United States or that of the government of Israel.

J. Mason Morfit

South Freeport

He’s a pretty great guy.

I saw again, the other day, where Waterville’s favorite son received yet another honor. I’m sure it was well-deserved along with all the other accolades that he has received in the course of his career. To me, though, despite all his other achievements, the one that will be appreciated and remembered the most is the creation of The Sen. George J. Mitchell scholarship research institute.

The mission statement of the institute states in part that every year a Mitchell scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior from every public school in Maine who will be attending a two- or four-year postsecondary degree program.

It goes on to say that as of 2010, the program has awarded nearly $8 million in financial assistance to almost 1,800 Maine students since 1985.

What’s even more wonderful is that 90 percent of Mitchell scholar alums work in Maine or plan to do so within the next five years following the report, and more than 40 percent of Mitchell scholars say they have influenced a friend or family member to go to college.

The foundation at the end of 2009 had an endowment of some $19,846,430, and the list of contributors looks like a who’s-who of companies and individuals from all over the United States, attesting to the respect and admiration for Mr. Mitchell.

What’s most important, however, is that for the next, who knows how long, kids from the state of Maine will be benefiting from Sen. Mitchell’s efforts. What a great contribution he has made to our great state of Maine and our children.

I cannot express adequately my appreciation and I’m sure I can include most Mainers in this. But thanks, George, thanks a million.

Arthur Julia


Paper deserves credit for defense of MaineCare

I would like to commend the Press Herald’s editorial staff for its recent commentary regarding the administration’s proposed MaineCare program cuts.

The points you made questioning whether the longer-term financial impact of these cuts are being considered in a rush to gain short-term political gain, as well as whether these cuts reflect the generosity of our spirit, are really at the core of this challenging issue.

In this difficult fiscal environment, governments, nonprofits and philanthropic organizations need to engage in a broader dialogue of how we can all work together more effectively to create a sustainable system of care that reflects our state’s values, and not rush into creating poor fiscal and social policy to score political points.

Scott Schnapp

Executive Director, Maine Association of Nonprofits