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Israeli soldiers with armoured vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border in southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)
Israeli soldiers with armoured vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border in southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

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Nov. 17: Mistakes in the Middle East, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Middle East mistakes

While I emphatically condemn the violence on both sides, your editorial (Hamas’s Mistake In Stirring The Pot – Nov. 16 ) suggests that Palestinian aggression in recent weeks exists opposite a peaceful Israeli state. The reality, as is painfully common in this conflict, is more complex, more tit-for-tat in nature.

Your editorial diminishes Israel’s role in this current cycle of violence and creates a narrative of moral equivalency. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has permitted accelerated expansion of settlers and settlements in the West Bank, has been lax in protecting Palestinian olive groves from settler violence and has overseen an environment that has witnessed an increase in attacks on Palestinian Christian sites. Palestinian use of rockets is to be abhorred and pushes them further from their political goals, but please do not neglect their circumstances.

Matthew Beatty, Toronto

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So the slaying of the Hamas commander threatens the “fragile Middle East peace” (Shattered Peace – Nov. 15). This is the language and the logic of the Middle East: It is called a fragile peace when, unprovoked, Hamas has launched hundreds of rockets into Israel during the past year; it is called war and aggression when Israel tries to stop them.

Irv Salit, Toronto

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So Israel is right to “defend itself” by assassinating Hamas leaders because that group is stockpiling weapons. I must have missed the news that Israel was melting its swords into plowshares.

Shirley Groves, Beaconsfield, Que.

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On the take/make

Quebec municipal officials on the take and the American generals on the make would have been better served reading The Globe and Mail last June. If they had, they might have been nudged by an item in Social Studies: “Why is it said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? What is it about the psychology of power that leads people to behave differently – and, too often, badly?” (Drunk With Power – June 19).

The item goes on to say psychologists have been studying this issue at Stanford and UC Berkeley. “Their research has zeroed in on what an intoxicating elixir power can be. And one thing has become clear: The phrase ‘drunk with power’ is often a dead-on description. These new studies show that power acts to lower inhibitions, much the same as alcohol does.”

John Buttars, Guelph, Ont.

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Buckle up

Re UN Says Canadian Aid Neglects Family Planning (Nov. 14): Maternal health policy that neglects family planning and reproductive rights is like traffic law that hands out speeding tickets while outlawing seat belts. It’s time for Stephen Harper and Julian Fantino to strap in.

Danyaal Raza, MD, Ottawa

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Police, schools

Re Trustees, Principals Fear Loss Of Officer Program (Nov. 14): Since the School Resource Officer (SRO) program was introduced by Toronto Police Services in 2008, students have been encouraged to consider these armed, uniformed police officers in their schools as social workers, coaches, mentors, tutors, and legal advisers – in other words, as all the trained professionals who used to do those jobs before inadequate school funding forced them to be cut.

People seem to forget that the primary role of a police officer is to do police work. His or her primary work while embedded in our schools is to find and catch criminals, and gather informants who can help convict criminals. This makes an on-duty officer a poor substitute for a youth worker.

Those who argue that their visible presence contributes to a safe school environment clearly haven’t considered the point of view of undocumented students, or students from communities that have experienced police violence and harassment.

If principals and trustees are upset about losing the SRO program, it goes to show that they never really understood the program or the students in their schools.

Jason Kunin, teacher, Toronto District School Board

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A deficit of options

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty talks a good game about balancing the budget four or five years from now, when he may not even be the finance minister (Surprise $7-billion Deficit Surge – Nov. 14). One thing is obvious: His tax cuts made no sense when he made them – and they make even less sense now. They served no purpose except scoring political points and are now limiting his and the government’s options.

Bill Piket, White Rock, B.C.

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Isn’t this a bit rich – while the federal government and their various emissaries were out warning Canadians about being fiscally responsible, we now learn that the foxes have yet to get their own house in order. As for the chickens, we’ll keep our own counsel, thank you.

Leo J. Deveau, Regina

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Star-crossed NHL

As a follower of soccer, the ongoing hockey dispute means as much to me as a strike by the nation’s astrologers (Bettman Wants A Timeout – Nov. 16). Nevertheless, I sympathize with the fans missing their sport, the players missing their salaries, and the owners missing out on some of their millions.

What puzzles me at this stage is why some reasonably intelligent (and, ideally, disinterested) person hasn’t been brought in to sit down, read the two sides’ submissions, and quickly decide on some middle ground. Hey, I’d even offer to do the job myself.

Dave Ashby, Toronto

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Thanks, Mats

In the fall of 2002, our son, Arlen, was in his third round of treatment for leukemia at the Hospital for Sick Children – two bouts of chemo, followed by a bone marrow transplant. HSC is a great hospital – one we thank mightily – but Arlen was not doing well. In fact, he was dying. Stephen Arlen Maxwell passed away Jan. 13, 2003.

On a November day before he died, the word came around that some of the Maple Leafs were going to visit the transplant ward. My wife was there that day and she told me that three huge guys came to the doorway. Two took one look, and they stood back. But Mats Sundin took one look and strode into the room (Hall Of Fame Quartet Represent The Tail End Of An Era – Sports, Nov. 12).

Our son instantly lit up. He became alert and sat up in his bed, so excited to be in the room with Mats. For a moment, once again, he was just a little boy thrilled to be in the presence of a great athlete.

That day Mats Sundin entered this family’s Hall of Fame and stood a little taller than any other Maple Leaf. Mats has our thanks – and congratulations.

Ward Maxwell, Deborah Kirkegaard, Jarret Maxwell, Toronto

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