History matters. My wife and I have made numerous journeys to the Mideast, to the West Bank and Israel proper, experiencing the hospitality of both Palestinians and Israelis alike.

It is important that individuals judging the Israeli-Arab conflict recall the “beginnings” of historical events, as over time the facts of such beginnings always seem to take a back seat in relation to what is happening in the present.

Fact 1: In 1947 the U.N. Partition Plan provided for independent Arab and Israeli states, with Jerusalem as an “independent” city. The Arabs rejected this mandate, while Israel accepted it.

As a result, Egypt, Trans-Jordan, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria attacked Israel. Following the conflict, Trans-Jordan controlled the Old City of Jerusalem and what we today refer to as the “West Bank,” not the Palestinians.

Fact 2: In September 2005, the Israelis left the Gaza Strip, dismantling all their settlements. The Palestinians then had the opportunity to create a peaceful state by development of industry and tourism, through the use of billions of dollars provided to them over time by the worldwide community and various organizations.

Instead, both Arab factions (Hamas and Fatah) fought and killed each other, Hamas exiting the conflict as the victor. As a result, this new “Gaza government” continued to preach the destruction of Israel and sent suicide bombers and Qassam rockets into Israel to kill innocent civilians.

Hamas Charter, Article No. 7: “The day of judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘TO Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Allah, count them and kill them to the last one, and don’t leave even one alive.’“

What more has to be said?

Andrew Pasakarnis


I urge everyone to read Robert Schaible’s commentary “Maine Voices: Israel’s victim image belies its drive to control, abuse Palestinians” (Nov. 24).

In my view, the author sketches the background history in an even-handed way. All nine of Schaible’s objective references quote Israelis.

I hope that readers who might be put off by the fact it is written by the chair of Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights will recognize the author’s genuine desire for a lasting resolution in Israel/Palestine.

Without peace, all will suffer. With it, all sides will gain. May the latest cease-fire and a letter like this one begin that process.

Elaine G. McGillicuddy


Election night protesters have not learned from past  

It was deeply disturbing to read that 400 students at the University of Mississippi protested President Obama’s victory on election night (“Obama victory sparks protest at Ole Miss,” Nov. 7). Derogatory racial statements were voiced at this demonstration.

I thought this nation had moved on from the hard-fought struggles and gains of the 1960s. How did this happen? What have we been teaching our children and our children’s children for the last 50 years?

Are we as a nation really this deeply divided? What can be done to bridge this apparent chasm?

Perhaps the personal connection between the president and governor of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy might give us a clue. Hopefully, during times of crisis and need, people put the common good above political differences and social ideals.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash once sang “Teach your children well.” Maybe this is where the process begins.

John Rich

South Portland

Call Kissinger’s successors by their academic titles, too 

Thanks for publishing the biographical article on Susan Rice (“Potential top diplomat stirs debate,” Nov. 22). I had not known that she holds two graduate degrees from Oxford, nor that she had been a Rhodes Scholar.

The column brought to mind a question I have long had. When Henry Kissinger was secretary of state (and later), he was always referred to in news reports as “Dr. Kissinger” — quite properly, since he holds a doctorate from, I believe, Harvard.

But since then we have had two secretaries of state with doctorates — Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice — and now also an ambassador to the United Nations similarly qualified. And in news reports, they are never given their academic titles. Why not?

Peter Bakewell


Help ease winter’s impact on our canine companions 

As the weather starts to get colder, now is an excellent time to make sure your four-legged friend is protected from the hazards of winter weather. Please follow these guidelines to ensure Fido is feeling fine this winter:

Keep your dog indoors and protected from the elements whenever possible.

Provide extra food as dogs burn more calories in the cold weather, and make sure the water does not freeze.

Clean off the dog’s paws when they come inside to remove dirt, ice and snow, etc.

If you must keep your dog outside for extended periods, provide a sturdy doghouse. Make sure the doghouse is raised off the ground, faces south and has an off-center door with a flap to keep out winter blasts. Use straw bedding, as anything else such as blankets, etc., will retain moisture and freeze. (Some communities and animal protection groups will provide straw for free.)

Have a friend or neighbor check on the animal if possible. Older or ill animals are at greater risk from the cold.

Thank you for keeping everyone’s best friend safe and warm this winter!

Don Kimball

cruelty investigator, Peace and Justice for Animals

South Portland 

Former Democrat finds Greens’ values to her liking 

A lifelong Democrat, in 2008, having learned of a political ploy, I changed to independent. I valued my status as a “decider.”

Now I learn from Voice of the People (“‘Spoiler’ image clouds view of what Greens have to offer,” Oct. 27) that the Green Party favors ecological wisdom, social justice, grass-roots democracy and nonviolence. So do I. I join the Green Party.

Ruth Hassett