Letters: Green vandals attack an icon of British design

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The Independent Online

I am dismayed by your unbalanced publication of letters from green philistines concerning the Jaguar situation. Jaguar is one of the greatest British brands, constantly innovative since its foundation by Sir William Lyons. Lyons' genius was to make sophisticated cars at an affordable price, each in their own way a British icon of its time. From the pre-war SS to the XK120 of 1948, which defined the post war sports car – until Jaguar redefined it with the E-Type in 1961, still one of the most recognisable shapes in the world and the only car to have been displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Mark 2 of the mid 1950s similarly created the sport saloon genre, subsequently usurped by BMW. Jaguar has constantly reinvented itself over the years. The XJ6 of 1968 remains one of the classic shapes. And just in time, the new XJ-F came along last year, another new and modern shape – taut, edgy, elegant yet instantly recognisable, in one feline leap taking the brand forward.

Jaguar remains an icon in Britain and across the world. My XJ6 was one of the most admired cars I have ever owned, engendering a similar reaction in this country to my Citroen DS when in France. Like the DS, it is part of a national design and manufacturing heritage, whether owned independently, by British Leyland, Ford or Tata. To allow it to be undermined for the sake of a few grams of CO2 would seem to be an act of green vandalism, akin to Dr Beeching or the destruction of the Euston Arch – once gone, never to return.

Iain Johncock, London SE22

US blames victims for Gaza carnage

It is heart-rending to see footage of the carnage in Gaza. We Palestinians continue to be pawns in the cynical Israeli elections, as a vote-catching ploy. This may be awful but it is to be expected given Israel's history. What is infinitely worse is the continued double standards coming from the Bush administration.

Amid the noise, strife and din of some 300 Palestinians killed and 400 injured to date, the United States still manages to speak out loud and clear condemning the Palestinians. The US urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties. Is this some kind of sick joke or do Americans really live in a different world from the rest of us? Do they really have no compassion, no decency, no fellow feeling for Palestinian victims?

Dr Faysal Mikdadi, Dorchester, Dorset

I suppose an attack by Israel was inevitable, given the recent rocket attacks from Gaza upon them. However, even by Israeli standards of viciousness, this response was utterly disproportionate. The use of F-16 aircraft and high-tech weaponry against simple, ineffective, home-made rockets takes Israeli bully-boy methods to a new level.

I now await the inevitable weasel words from western political leaders, and the depressingly predictable stream of justification from apologists.

It seems that, almost alone among civilised nations, Israel can do whatever it likes in the Middle East with no sanction or consequences. If it doesn't like the Hamas government the Palestinians elected, it simply tries to strangle it, and when that doesn't work, it simply destroys it. Every time that it unleashes such naked violence, however, it loses a few more sympathisers.

W P Moore, Fakenham, Norfolk

Thousands of Palestinian missiles have recently struck Israeli towns and cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon, causing thousands of traumatised Israeli children to attend school in bomb shelters.

These Palestinian missile attacks have struck Israeli hospitals and shopping centres and are often designed to strike specifically when Jewish children are travelling to and from school. Every single one of these Palestinian missiles fired from Gaza is meant to kill or maim innocent Israeli civilians.

While many thousands of Palestinian missiles were landing upon Israeli civilian areas, the international community and media largely were silent. Now that the Israeli military has responded against Hamas targets for unprovoked attacks upon Jewish civilians, the international community and media have been immediate in breaking their silence to vilify Israel as it dares to eventually defend itself.

This is a well-worn route that media and, sadly the public, is being led along that continues to pay dividends for the terrorists and their agenda of eradicating the Jewish state.

D Roberts, Tredegar, Gwent

The Israeli attacks on Gaza, in which more than 200 people have been killed, have been disproportionate and immoral, considering that one Israeli has been killed by all the preceding Hamas rocket attacks. The main achievement of this attack will be to radicalise more Gazans and Arabs and thereby propagate the cycle of violence.

I find it difficult to understand how a civilised nation such as Israel can excuse its collective and individual conscience in the name of self-defence. Israeli politicians should realise that oppression only breeds hatred and brutality. They should learn lessons from the Northern Ireland peace process.

Dr Hisham Mehanna, Solihull, West Midlands

So what exactly has Tony Blair done in his role as Middle East envoy to bring about stability and peace between Israel and Palestine?

Sarah Pegg, Seaford, east Sussex

How we lost our Christmas trains

Your headline "Millions stranded in trains fiasco" (24 December) gives the impression that withdrawal of train services over the Christmas period is a recent phenomenon to facilitate engineering work. Well, it isn't.

It must be in the region of 40 years ago that British Railways withdrew Christmas Day services, later to be joined by Boxing Day trains, as a purely economic measure. Rail unions initially protested at the withdrawals as it would adversely affect members' earnings; but in later years, when British Rail wanted to reinstate Christmas services, the unions objected again saying that members should be able to enjoy Christmas at home like workers in other industries. It's only in relatively recent times that the closures have been taken advantage of to carry out engineering work.

It is about time the country caught up with the rest of Europe and provided at least a limited service over the holiday period.

Terence Roy Smith, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire

David Chambers wants us all to remember the train staff who don't work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (letter, 27 December). Presumably he would also like us to remember the journalists, printers and distributors who did have to work on Christmas Day to make sure he got his paper on Boxing Day.

Ben Saunders, London, SW17

Germans won't let me speak German

Although I agree wholeheartedly with Nick Wray's praise of learning German (letter, 26 December), I feel his contention that "most Germans are delighted to meet an English person who has troubled to learn their language" may be a little out of date.

In my experience, as a German resident of four years, many Germans will, if addressed in German by an English-speaker, automatically and often preferably switch to English. English people are rightly criticised for their lack of interest in learning foreign languages, but it is worth keeping in mind that even those who do try to learn them do so in the face of a world increasingly keen to try out its English skills upon us.

James Harris, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany

More and more futile laws

I see from the papers that some 300,000 people broke the law over Christmas and took part in fox-hunting. I did not pick up a number for arrests. I find hunting distasteful. However there are obviously a great many who don't and are prepared to break a law with which they disagree.

We have a government which is increasingly making laws that don't stick. How can we have faith in a governing system which, instead of properly policing laws that have stood the test of time, goes on and on making new and often poorly thought-through legislation.

Tim Lawson, Cheam, Surrey

The Pope revives old sexual angst

It is a great pity that the Pope will not read Philip Hensher's wise words (24 December).

All the churches (but particularly the Catholic Church) have had an unhealthy obsession with sex almost since the birth of Christianity. It has damaged countless millions of lives over the centuries, inflicting needless feelings of personal guilt and breeding social disapproval and even persecution. But just when western societies are beginning to grow up and to get these things into perspective, Benedict chooses to re-energise age-old sexual angst, with a particular focus on homosexuality.

Does this elderly ascetic really not understand the damage that his words will do? The Christian message of love is still a powerful one, and in these troubled times an enlightened Pope could find so many more important causes to champion with his office's powerful voice.

Gavin Turner, Gunton, Norfolk

There is much agitation around what the Pope has been saying to his household. What seems to be missed is that he shares a plight with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is an academic and speaks within a very broad understanding.

As I understand it, he was talking about two aspects of nature. One we call the natural world and the other we call human nature. He is saying that both possess an inner structure which was there before we started thinking about it and that we muck about with it at our peril.

Francis Hart, Aldershot, Surrey

It would be naive to hope that the Pope might recommend the widespread substitution of homosexuality for heterosexuality in order to reduce the incontestable cause of most of the world's present problems: serious overpopulation. One cannot help wondering, however, whether a beneficent deity might not view this as preferable to the more traditional methods of culling surplus humankind: war, famine and pestilence.

David Burton, Wellington, Telford

The engaging description of papal dress by Tony Tugnutt (Letters, 27 December) reminds us that the Pope has become something of a pantomime figure. With his preposterous views and outrageous claims, he is not to be taken seriously.

As in any good pantomime a repertoire of scarcely believable characters are necessary to reflect our human foibles; the Pope plays the foil to our fears of infallibly. Oh no he doesn't . . .

Dominic Kirkham, Manchester

Briefly...

Real politics

While I whole-heartedly agree with Frances King about the value of young people demonstrating (letter, 26 December), shouldn't we also consider how wonderful it would be if young people turned more to active politics, stood for office, got elected, and radically transformed the political scene as Members of Parliament.

Ian Flintoff, Oxford

English mountain

Double-consonant confusion has crept into your 50 Best Winter Walks (The Information, 27 December). It is a marvellous traverse, but the "ll" doesn't mean Helvellyn is in Wales. Aspiring walkers need to head for the Lake District in England to access Swirral and Striding (not Stridding) Edges.

A W Macfarlane, Llanddaniel Fab, Anglesey

Choice of spellings

With reference to Masha Bell's letter (26 December), from the spellings which were current at time, Dr Johnson selected for his dictionary the likes of centre, colour, labour, honour, horrour, mirrour, rustick, publick. Noah Webster chose for his, center, color, labor, honor, horror, mirror, rustic, public. It would be a boon for the world if dictionaries stopped labeling spellings as British or American and accepted such variants as alternatives.

Robert Craig, Weston Super Mare, Somerset

Moderately Muslim

The term "moderate Muslim" in UK media and politics is a sad reflection of how Islamophobia is subtly working its way into our national mentality. The term suggests that Muslims who practise their faith in some limited capacity can be upstanding members of society, whereas those who practise more fully are a danger to us all.

Daniel Solomon, London NW3

Sale madness

The terrifying and shameful sight of the barbarian hordes charging through the aisles of Selfridges would appear to underline several aspects of the legacy that Margaret Thatcher has bequeathed the nation: history teaches us nothing and greed is still good.

Peter Coghlan, Broadstone, Dorset

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