Afif Emile Safieh’s Comment article, “Mr Obama, there is still time to remake the Middle East” (22 March) exemplifies the basic fault line that underpins the mind-set of contemporary Palestinian elites, the idea that “someone” out there can set in process the creation of a Palestinian state. As Safieh puts it “We in the Middle East have a role in search of an actor”. But there is an actor and you can’t miss it... three million Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, spearheaded by all those brave village committees.
All that is needed is a high-powered Palestinian civil movement on the ground akin to that of the collapsing Soviet republics in the late 1980s; a non-stop “presence” of hundreds of thousands standing together at key points and staying there until the Israelis concede, as indeed Rabin did in the late 1980s.
And history is on the Palestinians’ side. The evidence from all the asymmetric conflicts over the past 100 years have shown that for the weaker protagonist, up to 50 per cent of such conflicts are successful, in the sense of a reconfiguration of the power between the parties. Then and only then can negotiations become “realistic”, as the stronger party, succumbing to the cost factor, becomes attuned to the reality of a robust protagonist.
In my view, a comprehensive, robust, non-violent civil movement in Palestine, coupled with an international campaign akin to the boycott movement, in conjunction with an equally robust negotiating strategy will lead to a Palestinian state. All three components are essential; individually they are ineffective.
Dr JOhn Jennings
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Contrary to your coverage last week, the Justice Select Committee’s report into the Criminal Cases Review Commission was far from “hard hitting” or highly critical of the CCRC. The report actually said we are “performing reasonably well” but that we need more funding and additional powers. Nowhere did it describe us as “timid” or anyone’s “lapdog”.
Most of the cases we deal with are of the most serious sort – murder, rape, and terrorist offences. On average, we refer one case back to the courts every eight working days. When we decide whether or not we can make a referral, we are required by statute to apply the “real possibility test”. The committee itself decided there was “no conclusive evidence” that we are failing to apply it correctly in the majority of cases.
So, could we be bolder in the cases we refer? This is an issue about professional judgement. We make independent, objective decisions based on the evidence and the law and believe we send back to the courts every case we properly can.
Anyone who thinks we should refer cases for appeal when we judge there is no “real possibility” that the conviction will be quashed, needs to answer this question: “What useful purpose would that serve?”
Chair, Criminal Cases Review Commission
Why do you use the term “bed blockers”, which has such derogatory connotations (27 March)? Elderly people, as you say, get stuck in hospital because of massive cuts in home and social care, as exemplified by the drastic drop in district nurses in the past 10 years. Most would much prefer to be at home as soon as possible, but with the basic care they need. Why lead on the sensational when the point of your story seemed to be about Labour’s concern about cuts to care budgets?
Now that the Six Nations has ended perhaps you would check the amount of coverage your newspaper gives England. Last week there was nearly four and a half pages for England. Wales, a quarter of a page; Ireland, one page. England did not even win the championship!
Andrew Martin (Comment, 22 March) dreads to think how people changed nappies before wet wipes. We used cotton wool and warm water or baby lotion. It wasn’t hard.
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