IoS letters, emails & messages (11 January 2009)

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John McCarthy cites the view of Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, that the suffering of people in Gaza is their own fault for tolerating Hamas leadership ("If it was your home...", 4 January). If this belief is genuinely held by the Israeli government, there is something it can offer to begin a viable peace process. It could help Gaza to improve life for Palestinians by building schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions to live up to Ehud Barak's description of Israel as "a place of civilisation" by demonstrating this in action to their distressed neighbours. The benefit for Israel will be that it will have responded with a gesture of friendship and that the missiles from Gaza might stop. This may offer the possibility of a "not so bitter end" to the conflict and a chance of health, education and hope for Palestinian children.

John Athanasiou

Basingstoke, Hampshire

John McCarthy refers to "the Zionist goals of creating Eretz Israel (a Greater Israel that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan)". The term Eretz Israel literally translates as "the land of Israel". It is the biblical name for what later became known as Palestine. It has nothing to do with political borders.

The majority of Israelis support the two-state solution. They supported the complete withdrawal from Gaza, three years ago. If there was no terror, that same majority will support further withdrawals in the West Bank. The final border will end up following the green line with minor modifications and land swaps.

Jacob Amir

Jerusalem, Israel

Your debate about news photography (Letters, 5 January) brought to mind a section in Alistair Horne's A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954 - 1962. Horne recalls the maiming in 1962 of Delphine Renard, aged four, by a bomb intended for the French minister of cultural affairs, André Malraux. Newspaper blow-ups of her "bloodied face" were believed to break the support that existed between the bulk of the French people and the aims of the far-right French militant group opposed to Algerian independence, the Organisation de l'armée secrète. Not showing the real impact of war merely sanitises war and is a form of censorship.

Keith Emerick


Joan Smith argues that the Change4Life anti-obesity campaign does not go far enough, and suggests a more hard-hitting approach with a logo such as a skull and crossbones ("Fat and sugar kill..." 4 January). I would welcome this, particularly if such a label could be placed on infant formula. Research shows the rise in use of infant formula milks over the past 50 years may be a major contributor to the rise in levels of obesity.

We need to consider whether a mother brought up on non-human milk will produce a baby with a different metabolism from the baby of a human-milk-fed mother, and hence whether her babies will be even more prone to obesity. After all, cow's milk, on which most infant formula milks are based, is designed to help calves grow fast and put on lots of muscle, whereas human milk builds intelligent human brains with gradual physical growth.

As a breastfeeding counsellor I regularly get calls from mothers who have had formula or mixed feeding urged on them by others (including health professionals) for no good reason.

Sue Cardus


Phoebe claims that "invisible birth fathers slithering out of their responsibility" are to blame for adolescent boys joining gangs and becoming a risk to society (Letters, 28 December). Many of these fathers had no idea that they would become parents in the first place, and often had no intention of forming a long-term relationship with the mother. A great number of the delinquents menacing our streets today come from mothers who have multiple short-term partners and have borne children to several.

David Buttery

Douglas, Isle of Man

Tom Burke's article is a very necessary reminder that climate change still has to be tackled with urgency ("War passes: the climate is for ever", 4 January). But isn't the recession an opportunity? Thousands are going to be put out of work, including skilled people in the building and other industries. Should we not put them to work in an expanded programme to reduce our emissions, by improving insulation in existing as well as new buildings, and by further development of renewable energy?

Wouldn't it be better to attack the problem of climate change rather than trying to stimulate consumerism which fritters away resources on holidays in Thailand, new clothes every year, and electronic gadgets which are superseded almost as soon as they are sold?

Michael Matthews

Peebles, Scottish Borders

To locate a source of paper for my printer I recently spent 20 minutes on the internet finding a phone number that proved to be no longer operational. Another business gave me a number which, when called, gave me seven options, not one of which was applicable to me. A further number gave me five options, and told me that to speak to a person would cost me £15. Two other numbers had answering machines too quiet to hear. How some companies stay in business is mystifying.

Colin Bower


Letters to the Editor 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; fax: 020-7005 2628; email: (giving address and phone number. No attachments, please)

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