IoS letters, emails & online postings (3 August 2014)

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The Independent Online

The article by Avi Shlaim ("What's the use of 'balance' in such an asymmetric war?", 27 July) underlined the failure of Western diplomacy, not only in Gaza but also more widely throughout the Middle East.

From the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006, through to Libya, Syria, and now Gaza again, we have witnessed what amounts to a failure of imagination and thought on the final outcomes of each conflict by the foreign ministries of the EU and the USA, along with their allies in the region.

The first rule of diplomacy is that you talk to your adversaries, not isolate them so that you leave no room for manoeuvre, as happened in Libya and Syria, and now with Hamas. Which brave EU government will do the unthinkable and now talk openly to Hamas?

Dr Derek Pickard

Sawston, Cambridge

Avi Shlaim writes that "Israel is infinitely stronger than Hamas not only in military terms but also in its capacity to wage the propaganda war". It is precisely because of its military superiority over Hamas, and its capacity to inflict damage to the infrastructure of civilian life in Gaza, that Israel has begun to lose the propaganda war.

Ivor Morgan


Paul Vallely is right to wonder why we so readily protest against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, but remain silent about the pogroms being committed against Middle East Christians ("The world's most persecuted people", 27 July). One might also ask why so few of the demonstrators, who obviously care about human suffering, protest against the much greater butchery in Syria, or the atrocities being committed by Isis in the name of Islam?

Stan Labovitch

Windsor, Berkshire

How interesting that nearly 40 MPs are demanding, not action on aircraft noise now, but the publication of a timetable showing how and when an independent Ombudsman might be set up ("Aircraft noise ombudsman vital", 27 July).

Maybe they should come to any south-west London suburb and try to get the children asleep before 11.30pm, or enjoy a quiet afternoon with friends in the garden without conversation being drowned out every four minutes by the deafening roar of a 747 overhead.

In other cities – Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Oslo, Berlin, and so on – they seem to have agreed that it is not a good idea to situate their main international airport where flights, in and out, will have to fly low, and with very stressful noise levels, over millions of local residents. But of course, they are Europeans.

David Halley

Hampton Hill, Middlesex

Hamish McRae notes that one reason people are not feeling better off is that "GDP per head is still something like 4 per cent below its peak" ("We have recovered, so why does it still hurt?" 27 July). But it should be also pointed out that earnings are still only growing at less than half the inflation rate. So whoever is now benefitting from the economic recovery, it certainly isn't those hard working Brits we keep reading about.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

So Sara Pascoe doesn't like it when people don't get out of her way when she is swimming. (Credo, The New Review, 27 July). I suggest she moves through the water with a large bell round her neck, shouting: "I'm a very busy woman". One way or another, that should solve the problem.

Linda Erskine


One reason for the decline of blockbusting films ("Box-office zeros", 27 July) might be the cost of going to the cinema. For the cost of a night at the cinema I could buy three films off the net and enjoy them in the comfort of my own home complete with surround sound, and not have the joy of someone more than 6ft tall sitting in front of me.

Jim Lewis

Sompting West Sussex