Letters: Holocaust no reason to ignore rights of others

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As a Liberal Democrat (and Liberal) supporter since 1974, I express my support for David Ward (report, 26 January). In the 1980s, many of us boycotted South African produce because of their policy of apartheid. I have been boycotting Israeli produce for several years for exactly the same reason.

The Israeli state, despite condemnations from the international community, has bulldozed its way into Palestinian lands, built a wall that surpasses anything the Russians could construct in Germany, and adheres to a philosophy that the land is given to them, not metaphorically but literally, by God himself.

Everyone with any sense knows what happened in the Holocaust, but this does not give the Israeli state any right to trample over the rights of others. What David Ward says is the truth; but perhaps when the truth clashes with ideological correctness, it has to go.

Patrick McDonough

Burton Joyce, Nottinghamshire

The reaction to Davis Ward's comments regarding the Holocaust have been sad and predictable. He is simply articulating what must be the most important reason for remembering the Holocaust or indeed any major historical event.

A typical response is from Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who said, "We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience". The implication is that the Jewish people should not have learned any lessons from this.

Surely the whole point of remembering the Holocaust is that we should all learn lessons from one of the darkest episodes in human history, reflect on man's inhumanity to man, and condemn human rights abuses, whoever is perpetuating them.

If we cannot learn from history, then what is the point of remembering it?

Dr Shazad Amin

Sale, Greater Manchester

David Ward, the MP for Bradford East, is being arrogant to say it is all right to use the term "the Jews" within his statement on his website, which reads "the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians".

The Jews implies all Jews, but not all were persecuted in the Holocaust, because some lived outside main land Europe and the some that were persecuted, not all went on to attack Palestinians.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

It pleases me greatly that the MP David Ward has spoken out and said what many of electorate think, in that we have great trouble squaring the circle when it comes to the Jews and the Holocaust, against the crimes committed over the past 50 years by Jews in Israel against the Palestinian people.

What does rather concern me though is the way all the Israeli/Jewish groups were so quick out of the blocks to condemn Mr Ward, yet again using the Holocaust as an excuse to mask or deflect attention away from the debate about Israel's crimes and its complete disregard for international law.

If only more of our politicians were as brave as David Ward, perhaps then we would finally see some progress towards a lasting peace in the Middle East, using sanctions if necessary to force Israel to comply.

Michael W Cook

Soulbury,

Buckinghamshire

If David Ward is disciplined by his Liberal Democrat leaders for criticising the Knesset and speaking loudly on behalf of the Palestinian people, his leaders will be seen for what they are, hopelessly in hock to the Jewish lobby.

How many more MPs are there out there unable to comment because of the detrimental effect it will have on their careers?

I am grateful for one man with enough integrity and courage to speak the truth.

Jennifer Bell

Tiverton, Devon

Real task is to play great music and play it well

I'm surprised to read that Max Hole has warned of the "danger to classical music" (letters, 26 January) unless it sheds its "stuffy, elitist image". For years, people have been warning of classical music's imminent demise if it fails to sharpen up its image.

During those years, countless performers, whose noble determination to "break down barriers" was matched only by their even greater determination to generate publicity for themselves (unfortunately, in most cases unaccompanied by any special musical talent), have fallen by the wayside.

The careers of Messrs Bach, Mozart, Beethoven etc have carried on regardless, transforming people's lives everywhere.

Mr Hole is right to seek ways to sell the records he produces, of course, and has done fine work in an industry that has sunk rather low. But for musicians, the point is not to think of ways of selling ourselves, but actually to get on with the wonderful task of playing great music, and playing it well.

If audiences tend to be older, that is because older people have more time (and perhaps more need) to listen to the huge symphonies of Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler that address through music the central questions of our existence.

It is a tragedy that musical education is so neglected in this country (and many others). As Mr Hole points out, countries such as Venezuela, which offer their young people the chance to study classical music, produce extraordinary results, not only in terms of musical performance, but in producing a whole society of young people who are personally fulfilled and passionately committed to the profession they love.

We should follow their example, not for classical music's sake, but for our own.

Steven Isserlis

London NW6

I welcome Max Hole's comments that classical orchestras need to "face the music" and create a wider appeal. But the solution does not lie in turning musicians and conductors into consumer-driven performance clowns.

The answer lies in the smaller venues where audiences are more likely to be introduced to new experiences and provide thereby a stepping-stone to consider the bigger, more established and "traditional" performances.

Venues such as London's Kings Place, the Bridewell Theatre or St Peter's Church (Belsize Park) offer opportunities for affordable and innovative performances in intimate surroundings. By all means, remove the stuffy suits, bring in lighting designers and jazz up the marketing, but to attract a new audience you need to promote and invest in the local and fringe venues as well as in the music, drama and performing academies that will feed the talent to fill them.

Encouraging random applause, intrusive big screens and sing-a-long to Pavarotti are interesting production ideas, but would sound the death knell for the art of classical music if they became the norm.

Marc Boettcher

London WC1

Migrant workers are cheap labour

I am sure that EU migration has been good for the economy. I have worked in three distribution centres for a major supermarket; 90 per cent of the workforce was of Eastern European heritage.

It's good for the economy to maximise profits. To do this you have to reduce the wage bill. Minimum wage in this country is £6.19 for over-18s. EU migrants are willing to work for this, do extra hours when told to – not asked, told to. They will not unionise themselves, afraid that their jobs will be at risk if they do, and generally are unaware of their rights at work. Nigel Farage is like a lot of people, afraid that another influx of migrant labour could possibly effect this country adversely again. Is that wrong?

The borders were opened up in 2004 without thinking of the possible consequences, and in my opinion it was to provide this country with cheap and servile workforce.

So maybe you should come down from your ivory towers out in the middle-class suburbs and realise that multicultralism is more than having diverse ethnic resturants in which to espouse the virtues of a migrant workforce.

Martyn Bounds

Yate, South Gloucestershire

Real task is to play great music and play it well

I'm surprised to read that Max Hole has warned of the "danger to classical music" (letters, 26 January) unless it sheds its "stuffy, elitist image". For years, people have been warning of classical music's imminent demise if it fails to sharpen up its image.

During those years, countless performers, whose noble determination to "break down barriers" was matched only by their even greater determination to generate publicity for themselves (unfortunately, in most cases unaccompanied by any special musical talent), have fallen by the wayside.

The careers of Messrs Bach, Mozart, Beethoven etc have carried on regardless, transforming people's lives everywhere.

Mr Hole is right to seek ways to sell the records he produces, of course, and has done fine work in an industry that has sunk rather low. But for musicians, the point is not to think of ways of selling ourselves, but actually to get on with the wonderful task of playing great music, and playing it well.

If audiences tend to be older, that is because older people have more time (and perhaps more need) to listen to the huge symphonies of Beethoven, Bruckner and Mahler that address through music the central questions of our existence.

It is a tragedy that musical education is so neglected in this country (and many others). As Mr Hole points out, countries such as Venezuela, which offer their young people the chance to study classical music, produce extraordinary results, not only in terms of musical performance, but in producing a whole society of young people who are personally fulfilled and passionately committed to the profession they love.

We should follow their example, not for classical music's sake, but for our own.

Steven Isserlis

London NW6

I welcome Max Hole's comments that classical orchestras need to "face the music" and create a wider appeal. But the solution does not lie in turning musicians and conductors into consumer-driven performance clowns.

The answer lies in the smaller venues where audiences are more likely to be introduced to new experiences and provide thereby a stepping-stone to consider the bigger, more established and "traditional" performances.

Venues such as London's Kings Place, the Bridewell Theatre or St Peter's Church (Belsize Park) offer opportunities for affordable and innovative performances in intimate surroundings. By all means, remove the stuffy suits, bring in lighting designers and jazz up the marketing, but to attract a new audience you need to promote and invest in the local and fringe venues as well as in the music, drama and performing academies that will feed the talent to fill them.

Encouraging random applause, intrusive big screens and sing-a-long to Pavarotti are interesting production ideas, but would sound the death knell for the art of classical music if they became the norm.

Marc Boettcher

London WC1

Migrant workers are cheap labour

I am sure that EU migration has been good for the economy. I have worked in three distribution centres for a major supermarket; 90 per cent of the workforce was of Eastern European heritage.

It's good for the economy to maximise profits. To do this you have to reduce the wage bill. Minimum wage in this country is £6.19 for over-18s. EU migrants are willing to work for this, do extra hours when told to – not asked, told to. They will not unionise themselves, afraid that their jobs will be at risk if they do, and generally are unaware of their rights at work. Nigel Farage is like a lot of people, afraid that another influx of migrant labour could possibly effect this country adversely again. Is that wrong?

The borders were opened up in 2004 without thinking of the possible consequences, and in my opinion it was to provide this country with cheap and servile workforce.

So maybe you should come down from your ivory towers out in the middle-class suburbs and realise that multicultralism is more than having diverse ethnic resturants in which to espouse the virtues of a migrant workforce.

Martyn Bounds

Yate, South Gloucestershire

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