Letters to the Editor - 4-18-24

Left out of Richard Haass’s Forum talk

I recently attended the Salisbury Forum’s lecture to hear Richard Haass on his new book “The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens.” While I agree with his 10 obligations, believe our country would be a better place if more of us adopted these habits, I was dismayed by his failure to follow his own advice. Mr. Haass, a career State Department employee, spent the first half of his talk on the state of the world and U.S.’s role in it. He mentioned climate change, foreign policy, the upcoming presidential election, a possible Trump second administration, the Ukraine War, Taiwan and the situation in Gaza. He had an attentive audience and confidently gave his opinions on what sounded like a State Department briefing.

Mr. Haass said U.S. dominance on the world stage has led to peace and kept us free from another world war. While it’s true we have not seen another global conflagration, given events in Ukraine and Gaza and resulting world tensions we are closer to the precipice of a nuclear war today than we have been for many years.

What I found distressing were Mr. Haass’s comments about the ongoing Israel war in Gaza. First, he began by focusing on the events of Oct 7. which he accurately described as horrible. However, Oct. 7 was not the beginning of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. That conflict has spanned several decades but Mr. Haass, a State Department veteran, made no mention of the historical context. He omitted reference to the 1948 Nakba or catastrophe that dispossessed 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and killed 15,000, the 1967 war that led to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, the five military assaults since 2014 on occupied and blockaded Gaza, and since Oct. 7, a bombing campaign in which 100,000 civilians, a majority of whom are women and children, have been killed and maimed with life altering wounds. Nor did he mention the siege that is literally starving 2.2 million people of food, water, fuel, healthcare and clothing.

He did not refer to the International Court of Justice declaration that Israel has been plausibly engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing over the last six months in Gaza.

And he made no mention that through all of this the United States has continued to provide the bombs and artillery shells dropped daily by Israel on the civilian population under the pretext of hunting for Hamas leadership.

These inconvenient truths were left out of Mr. Haass’s analysis of world events and his view of U.S. foreign policy. These relevant and material facts, if presented, would have informed his audience more fully of the historical context of the events taking place in Gaza, a historical context we hear so little about in the mainstream commercial media but which affects how we see and understand world events.

Leaving aside for the moment the valuable contribution his book makes to public discourse, Mr. Haass left his audience without the facts needed to achieve his number one goal, an informed citizenship.

Leonard Polletta


Supporting Hayes’ Caring for Survivors Act

In response to an April 11 letter, a “genuinely nice man” does not a great representative make! What we don’t need is another empty suit lobbyist. And when his choice for President “takes the 5th” in his upcoming trial, our Representative Jahana Hayes will be taking the 5th District’s concerns to DC.

On April 10, she did what she has been doing for the last four years: walking the walk — over to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on behalf of her proposed Caring for Survivors Act. She testified persuasively that not only should veterans get adequate benefits but that their survivors must be properly compensated for providing care. When a service member dies in action or becomes a veteran, their survivor receives a monthly check called DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation). But since 1993, those family members have had to make do with less than they deserve.

As Hayes testified, her bill raises surviving spouse benefits from 43% to 55% of the compensation given to a totally disabled veteran, bringing it to a level consistent with other federal survivor programs.

“This would ensure that surviving spouses get the benefits their loved ones have earned,” said Hayes.

That additional $400 a month will be a big boost for those family members! Representative Jahana Hayes has been a longtime supporter of vets and their families. Hers is the only New England district office to be designated a Purple Heart Office of Distinction, and The Veterans for Foreign Wars is one of seven organizations supporting her legislation. Let’s follow them on that Purple Heart Trail. It is sure to lead to the best place in our hearts! Urge the U.S. House to pass Hayes’ Caring for Survivors Act.

Molly S. Fitzmaurice


2024 brings the 73rd National Day of Prayer on May 2

The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. Every year local, state and federal observances are held from sunrise in Maine to sunset in Hawaii bringing together citizens from all backgrounds to pray for our nation.

It is a vital part of our heritage since the first call to prayer in 1775 when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for Almighty God’s wisdom in forming a nation.

This call to pray has continued throughout our history including President Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 and President Truman’s signing of a joint resolution by Congress in 1952 declaring an annual National Day of Prayer.

Each year every president signs a proclamation encouraging all Americans to pray on this specially designated First Thursday in May.

Thank you, community members, for your past faithful observance.

Please join us once again as we gather on Thursday, May 2 at the Salisbury Town Hall Memorials at 6:00pm. If it rains: Salisbury Congregational Church.

Mary T. Davis


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