Letters: Israel at 60

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To claim that Israel is "the country that famously made the desert bloom" overlooks the Peel Commission's findings in 1936-7 that Palestine was the world's leading citrus exporter ("Israel at 60", 4 May). It was not a barren desert awaiting redemption by Europe's Jews. And Raymond Whitaker's reference to "last summer's seizure of Gaza by Hamas" ignores the inconvenient truth that Hamas is the legitimately elected government of Palestine. As we are told repeatedly by Israeli politicians, a government has the right to defend its citizens.

Ibrahim Hewitt, Leicester

Ofsted asserts that the new system of slimmed down and "no-notice" inspections was introduced because "the old system of giving a term's warning had created too much stress" ("Ofsted accused over deputy heads' inspection fears", 4 May). This is nonsense. The old system of big week-long inspections was a very expensive gravy train costing the tax-payer in excess of £2bn for very little return. Ofsted may be cheaper, but it is still failing. We were told 15 years ago Ofsted would "raise standards". Schools in poor areas with limited intakes are still being put into "special measures". It has clearly failed in its job. Now we hear teachers don't want to be heads. What a surprise! This punitive inspection system with added league tables is killing state education by creating "back-door selection".

Peter Hicks, Brighton, east sussex

Boris Johnson's hostility to increasing the London congestion charge for SUVs is not the only example of Tory rejection of David Cameron's PR on the environment ("Will the accidental Mayor shape up?", 4 May). Here in Chester, the Tories virtually froze recycling targets when they came to power last May, in order to make space for them to lead a backlash against fortnightly rubbish collections or any other pro-recycling measure. Amusingly, they now (against expectations) control the restructured council and it is they rather than as anticipated their political opponents who face large fines for missing the 40 per cent recycling target in 2010.

Christopher Clayton, Waverton, Cheshire

The news that 155 London post offices are to be closed down is a bitter blow to Londoners but seems to have passed the new Mayor by. The closures will be a huge disappointment to thousands of people, especially older residents and small businesses who have campaigned so hard. Many branches that are to close make healthy profits and are a valuable link to the community. The consultation period of six weeks provided by the Government was not remotely adequate. Last week I handed Boris Johnson a letter appealing for him to take immediate action. Saving local post offices is one of his key manifesto pledges but, as yet, he has been silent on the issue. Boris may need time to settle into his new role, but he needs to act now – our post offices don't have time on their side.

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat member, London Assembly

Your front-page picture ("Boris and Dave: The odd couple", 4 May) of a maladroitly saluting plump man made me wonder why the late Benny Hill was in the news. Benny was known for distasteful remarks insulting to racial minorities, suggestive jokes that fell flat and chasing scantily clad young women. Then I realised it was Boris, not Benny ... or was it?

Huw Jones, London N3

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is a Bolivarian, a follower of Simon Bolivar, who led the independence movement against the colonial power, Spain ("Latin America: the leaders change but the injustice lives on", 27 April). Bolivar's idea was to unite the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America (somewhat similar to the union of states in North America). Chavez is therefore trying hard to enable Latin American countries to co-operate and stand together to make them strong enough to free themselves from US economic and political control. That is why Venezuela bought large amounts of bankrupt Argentinian foreign debt: as a result Argentina no longer has IMF/World Bank loans and can make its own economic policies. That is why Chavez led the creation of Telesur, a Latin American TV station based in various South American countries. That is why he has set up Alba – named after the Spanish for "dawn" – an economic association of Venezuela and some other Latin American countries.

Martin Ross, Brighton, East Sussex

It doesn't matter whether you are boyish or curvy, women are women and come in many shapes and sizes ("The ins and outs of real women and their curves", 4 May). I am glad that Princess Beatrice is curvy and is happy to celebrate her femininity wearing a bikini.

I am a pear-shaped lady and very proud of my shape. It is partly thanks to so-called fashion experts extolling the virtues of the stick insect that we have many girls ill with anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Women, be happy with the shape you are and take no notice of the moronic style-by-jury programmes or of Trinny and Susannah. These two always look as if they have dressed in an explosion in a clothing factory.

Ann Beirne, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire

I have no objection to men wearing make-up, but the rise in beauty products for men is surely about a cosmetics industry in search of new profits ("Slap! The modern man receives a make-up call", 4 May). The traditional way for men to adorn their faces or change their appearance has been to grow a beard.

Keith Flett, London N17

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