Letters: The Palestine Papers

What more could the Palestinians give up?

Related Topics

It is an outrageous irony that the Palestinians should have felt it necessary to offer territorial concessions to Israel in their efforts to secure a peace deal ("Palestinians 'ready to give up Jerusalem sites' ", 24 January).

Palestinians have lost a homeland and a majority are even prepared to recognise the right to exist of the country which has replaced them, Israel, in return for the latter's withdrawal from the small portion of Palestine still left to them. What more can they give?

These are the words of Moshe Dayan (reported in Ha'aretz, 4 April 1969): "We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish, state here. In considerable areas of the country [the total area was about 6 per cent] we bought land from the Arabs. Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages... There is not a place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population."

Now Israel not only ignores UN resolutions to pull out of the occupied West Bank, but continues to build and expand within it, while we in the West generally look the other way. If the Palestinians were to receive the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in line with UN Resolution 242 (drafted by America in 1967) this would still leave them with only 22 per cent of historic Palestine; a land in which they formed a majority of 10:1 at the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

David Simmonds

Epping, Essex

According to information released, the Palestinian negotiators made most generous offers to Israel in various attempts to achieve a peace agreement including the "right of return" for only 10,000 Arabs over 10 years and huge concessions on the governance of East Jerusalem.

Why were they offering something which they must have known would never be acceptable to their own supporters? What was the point? What did they hope to achieve with such offers?

Clive Hyman

London NW11

Your leader "Israel betrays its ideals by whitewashing the military", 2 January) dismisses Israel's commission of inquiry out of hand and then comes to the conclusion that Israel's friends "lament her lack of sensibilities".

I suggest that it might be more accurate to say that friends of The Independent lament its loss of any sense of balance and justice. Here is a highly respected commission of inquiry reaching a detailed conclusion (and anyone seeing the pictures on that day, will probably have reached the same conclusion), yet The Independent has decided, without any detailed rebuttal, that the report only highlights Israel's reluctance to face facts

This stems either from extreme arrogance or is an indication of an anti-Israel bias which results in a complete lack of objectivity

Joshua Rowe


First, pick the right pupils...

What is it about politicians and education? Bright, able people go into Parliament but when they get involved with education their brains seem to turn to mush. We now have the reputedly brilliant Michael Gove upset that 216 secondary schools have failed to meet government targets, ("Improve or go, Gove warns heads", 15 January.).

Were all schools to have a similar intake then Mr Gove's target would be reasonable. But look at any schools league table and you will see the top places dominated by selective schools where the intake is overwhelmingly middle-class. Children from the "underclass" will not be represented at all. Go to the bottom of the table and you will see the opposite: high numbers of children with "special needs" and serious "behaviour issues".

We need to do some serious research into the methods that might be employed to raise the performance of the children that dominate these schools. Mr Gove's suggestion is plain silly. He plans to sack the heads and hand over control to the academies. Does he not realise that the great advantage that academies have over the schools controlled by the local authorities is the power to reject the "worst" children?

Far from sacking these heads, Mr Gove should be consulting them so as to build up a sensible, dogma-free picture of what the problems are. Perhaps Mr Gove would have a clearer insight if he were to give himself a brief sabbatical in order to teach for a week in one of these schools.

Stephen Shaw


So the incoming education minister thinks that he is putting things right in our much-maligned educational system by restoring the primacy of "facts and figures" ("School curriculum gets back to facts and figures", 20 January). Forgive me for not holding my breath.

Successive governments have subjected the curriculum to continual reinvention. Every rearranging of the deck-chairs has been trumpeted as the "great leap forward" – up to and including Michael Gove's most recent intervention. The really depressing truth is not so much that ministers have come up with the wrong answers as that they are asking the wrong questions.

If we want to improve the education of our children, we need to focus not on more (or different) "facts and figures" but on a much nobler objective, namely "the awakening of the mind to the consciousness of its own power, cultivating its faculties of observation, perception, reflection, judgement and reasoning: training it, in short, to form habits of thinking".

These are not "subjects" at all, still less "facts and figures". Subject content per se is less important than the "habits of thinking" which are thereby cultivated and nurtured.

The educational reformer I quoted is Joseph Payne; he wrote those words back in 1856. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose – and that's a fact.

Martin Priestley


Warminster School

Hive deaths still a mystery

In Michael McCarthy's article "Poisoned Spring" (20 January), the research by Dr Pettis offers another piece in the puzzle of understanding how neonicotinoids might affect honey bees. However, it is impossible to comment on whether or not his findings are important because the research is unpublished.

When you strip away the emotion, sensationalism and conspiracy theories surrounding this issue, you are left with a pile of published research suggesting causes for concern, and a pile of published research showing no cause for concern. There is no clear weight of evidence linking any pesticides to the decline in bees. For some organisations, suspicion is enough to call for precautionary bans on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. However, at the NFU we work on the basis of what we actually know for sure, rather than what we might suspect.

The consensus among leading scientists and experts across the world remains that the decline in bees is caused by a combination of factors, and the major factors are pests and disease.

Dr Chris Hartfield

NFU horticultural adviser

Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire

The crop science industry is deeply concerned about the bee colony death situation. As the chief contributors to sustainable crop productivity, we recognise the essential role of bees in agriculture. Clearly our goal is to protect them and we are making a substantial investment toward that end.

Independent research is under way worldwide. The objective of these investigations is to find the actual cause of the problem. To achieve this objective, research must be published and peer-reviewed to determine if it is objective, reliable and reproducible. This must happen before the results can be responsibly discussed in public forums.

Unfortunately, the claims on which this reporting is based have not undergone this review process. This is very troublesome, because we really need to know if they are factual if we are to respond.

Investigators are following a variety of clues that will ultimately lead to the right answer, the one that will generate a solution. Until that research is complete, caution in pronouncements is a must. Otherwise it can be politics and promotion, not science.

Phil Newton

Senior Manager, Communications, the European Crop Protection Association


From real life to politics

One cannot blame MPs for the choices their parents made ("Final fanfare for the common men", 25 January), but the quality of MPs would be improved if in future candidates were required to demonstrate that they had spent three years in the front line of public service, working in an organisation such as a hospital, a prison, the Army or a Jobcentre. Service as a ministerial adviser would not count.

Adrian Walker-Smith

Stroud, Gloucestershire

To replace Andy Coulson, the Tories should turn to their bright idea of the 1980s. They started "parachuting" outsiders into government, nationalised companies and universities. They said that if a person could manage, say, a bank then they could also manage an organisation that had absolutely nothing in common with it.

Rather than picking another media insider, why not choose a person who has always been a consumer of the media? Could they do worse?

Simon Allen

Watford, Hertfordshire

Let us back into the gallery

Like John O'Sullivan (letter, 25 January) we also visited the Glasgow Boys both in the Kelvingrove and in the RA (twice in both locations), and were intrigued by the contrasts between the way in which the pictures were hung.

The Glasgow show was greatly superior not only in the number of pictures displayed, in the readmissions-encouraged policy, in the informative videos, and the tremendous enthusiasm and local knowledge of all staff and visitors. But the exhibition was housed in a basement with many strange and cramped spaces, to the extent that one of Arthur Melville's most innovative pictures could be viewed at a distance only by backing away from it and crossing a corridor.

Where we were much luckier than John O'Sullivan, however, was that on both our London visits we could view the exhibition virtually on our own because we went in November, before London had discovered the Boys, and on late-opening Friday evenings.

I find the "no readmission" policy of London galleries particularly barbaric, as the only major gallery with toilets within its exhibition area is Tate Britain.

Marina Donald


Free music is no theft

Steve Hill's comments (letter, 17 January) are paranoid to the extreme. We already have a free "peer-to-peer file-sharing" for books and music; they're called a library and a radio, respectively. We can also rent films and video games from rental stores for a small fee. Yet none of these has forced us to leave the EU and most EU countries operate a similar system.

Most aspiring artists don't play for free in pubs; they put their music on YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter to gather support and sell CDs to anyone who likes them. I've found several good indie bands that I wouldn't have ever heard of if their music wasn't available online, and purchased their CDs to encourage them to keep producing songs.

Regarding the decline of the music industry, the main reason is that advances in technology mean that people no longer need the support of a big company in order to produce their own album. These days people can produce it in their own homes.

Thomas Wiggins

Wokingham, Berkshire

Prison votes

If the seeming majority of prisoners encountered by Terence Blacker ("Give them a stake in our democracy", 21 January) believe that David Icke is the son of God, politicians are satanic paedophiles and the world is ruled by lizard humans, might this alone stand as a reason for not giving prisoners the vote? I resent prisoners having a right to vote when their behaviour has clearly demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the rules of common decency.

Jim Dowdall

Robertsbridge, East Sussex

Woman in black

Whatever one's views on the involvement of women in men's football, we should all be glad Sian Massey has such determination to progress as a referee. With a shortage of game officials we should be doing all we can to encourage people to take up refereeing, not making or excusing unfair and hurtful comments aimed at and about a young person of 25 who was and is "just doing her job".

John Moore


Delivery failure

I have just had the uplifting experience of trying to contact Royal Mail to inquire about delivery of a book that was posted to me on 11 January. An interview with the Burmese military junta would be easier to arrange and probably more fruitful.

R J Hunwicks

Marnhull, Dorset

Perspectives on devastated high streets

A plague of bookies

The article about how the recession has hit high streets (21 January), and the onslaught of betting shops, struck a particular chord for us burghers of Deptford, London.

Along and adjacent to the 1,000-yard Deptford High Street are now 10 bookies, the most recent being a Paddy Power that took out the Deptford Arms. That was one of the very few remaining pubs that served market traders, students, musicians, locals and boozers alike, a communal and cultural centre that hosted folk music and political events.

But now it, and most recently the historically named John Evelyn pub, have fallen victim to the nag mafia who bring nothing to the area, but siphon off the funds of the poor fools who patronise these places.

Despite strong vocal opposition to these takeovers, we've found to our despair that the Gambling Act does not so much relax restrictions for bookies to set up shop, as make them nigh-on impossible to refuse.

The High Street, cutting through one of London's most deprived but also vibrant and mixed areas, was only recently cited as one of the UK's most diverse shopping streets, mostly chain-free, with independent traders shouldering along.

In fact, the recession has not hit the area that hard, compared with the norm, and it is undergoing quite substantive regeneration projects. But of all the chains to find ourselves bound with, it's bookies! The law needs to change.

Robin Tudge

London SE8

Victorian charm eradicated

I must take issue with your article on Elmbridge (21 January). Oliver Bennett writes that he felt privileged that the car that he narrowly escaped was an Aston Martin? It may well have been. We, in Elmbridge, would be more impressed had it been a bus. This borough rarely sees them.

Did Mr Bennett come to Elmbridge 30 years ago? He would have seen attractive Victorian houses surrounded by grass verges and majestic trees. Both have been almost completely eradicated, felled by developers' diggers to be replaced by endless blocks of charmless flats – bought by investors who have little interest in the local community and environment. They are only concerned with the profit they hope to make when the flats are sold.

Has he seen our pathetic high streets? Butchers, bakers and post offices replaced by charity shops and discount stores. Walton on Thames, a busy attractive town in the 1960s with good shopping for everyone, now has 14 ladies' clothes shops and little else.

You have, in the same edition, an article on "How the recession killed the high street". We, in Elmbridge, haven't needed the recession to do that – just a series of arrogant and unimaginative councils.

Pamela Stewart

Weybridge, Surrey

Building societies survive

The statistics that Ordnance Survey has provided for the building society sector, quoted in your article "How the recession killed the high street", are incorrect. There has not been a decline in building society branches of 943, or 28 per cent, from 2008 to 2010. It might be that banks that demutualised in the 1990s have mistakenly been classified as building societies.

The figure we have for end 2008 was 1,916 branches, substantially lower than the 3,346 from OS. While we do not yet have the end-2010 data for societies and there may be a small reduction in building society branches between 2008 and 2010, I can categorically reassure you that building societies have not closed 943 branches in that period.

Adrian Coles

Director-General, The Building Societies Association,

London WC2

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Should parents be allowed to take pictures at nativity plays?  

Ghosts of Christmas past: What effect could posting pictures of nativity plays have on the next generation?

Ellen E Jones
The first Christmas card: in 1843 the inventor Sir Henry Cole commissioned the artist John Callcott Horsley to draw a card for him to send to family and friends  

Hold your temperance: New life for the first Christmas card

Simmy Richman
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick