IoS letters, emails & online postings (13 June 2010)

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It was heartening to read the letter (6 June) signed by eminent writers such as John Berger, Thomas Pakenham and others, urging an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. Doubly heartening to read that there is an organisation such as British Writers in Support of Palestine.

As an Irish writer, I have been vilified and insulted here in the Irish Republic when I have suggested, in letters or in online forums, that our writers and academics should make some kind of statement condemning Israeli action against the Palestinians and, more recently, the murder of nine Turkish citizens by Israeli forces on a Gaza relief ship. I have been publicly accused of attempting to "bully" writers into making such statements.

I have also asked Poetry Ireland, The Irish Writers' Union and Aosdána (the Irish academy) to make a comment on recent events and have received neither reply to nor acknowledgement of my request.

I feel deeply ashamed that so many Irish writers seem quite terrified, and even angry, at being asked to make a public statement against such inhumanity as is practised by Israel upon the inhabitants of Gaza and the criminal arrogance that permits her armed forces to commit murder on the high seas. I fear something has died in the cultural soul of Ireland and will not be revived.

Fred Johnston

Galway, republic of ireland


It is hardly the mark of an independent newspaper to print two long pieces, one by an al-Jazeera eye-witness ("Kidnapped by Israel and abandoned by Britain", 6 June), the other by the director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies, Ilan Pappé ("The deadly closing of the Israeli mind"), without putting forward an opposing account. Regarding the former, you must be aware that eye-witness studies are notoriously unreliable in comparison with filmed documentation – which in this case is available. Professor Pappé did state in his article what is already well known, that (like Hamas) he supports the destruction of the state of Israel. What is Israel supposed to do?

Ardon Lyon

London NW3


So Ofsted is concerned that standards of religious education are falling ("School RE classes are failing to teach children about Christianity", 6 June) because the New Testament is being used to explore issues of morality rather than to further children's "understanding of religion" – which seemingly includes the "understanding of miracles". If RE is focusing on principles and behaviour rather than teaching that there is such a thing as divine intervention, then this strikes me as an improvement.

Lorraine M Harding

Steeton, near Keighley, west yorkshire


I read that Ofsted is concerned that primary school children are failing to gain any understanding of miracles. Am I supposed to be worried about this?

Dr Ken Thompson

Department of animal and plant sciences, university of sheffield


I don't know why Jeremy Q Sleath is so concerned about knowing how Gran Torino ends after reading your article "Eastwood at 80" (Letters, 6 June). Millions of cinemagoers turned out to watch Titanic.

Granville Stout

Leigh, Lancashire


In successive weeks your newspaper has carried an article by Fiona Millar and an interview with her partner, Alastair Campbell. These followed not long after an article by Geoff Hoon, a man discredited long before he was caught on camera by the Dispatches programme selling himself and his contacts book. I am beginning to thing your publication is becoming a retirement home for New Labour old lags.

Jeremy Lucas

London SW18


Fifteen thousand bozos paid £30 each to surrender their privacy in exchange for an ID card. Now they squawk like Christmas turkeys because the new government has scrapped them, as promised.

Think of it as a lesson learned. One reason intelligent folk oppose these cards and the creepy database backing them is that we do not trust governments.

Barry Tighe

Ilford, Essex


Although morphine (and similar opioids) are the most important medical drugs of all, unfortunately they have a uniquely wide prescribing range to be effective, especially in palliative care ("The caring killers, 6 June). This means that published guidance to prescribers is very confused and inconsistent.

Generally, hospices are generous prescribers where appropriate, but many other hospitals and care homes – where most people die – are less so because they fear being accused of killing their patients. Providing a patient with a humane death may therefore come at the risk of the prescriber's prosecution or career.


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