As a strong supporter of Israel, I believe that the desire of the Fatah leaders to have the UN Security Council recognise Palestine is a positive move that can lead to peace. Any move that establishes a Palestinian state more or less on the 1967 lines is a guarantee for the future of the idea of two lands for two peoples: the Jews and the Palestinians.
Indeed, as Hamas well understands, the absence of such a resolution would be anathema for the Jews and Israel. Were the Palestinian people to give up their desire for such a resolution, they could and probably would do one of two things: demand an end to Israel, which I do not believe the world body would sanction. Alternatively, they would demand assimilation as full-fledged citizens of Israel, with full rights.
That second option would be the death-knell for the idea of Israel as a democratic Jewish state for its non-Jewish citizens would in short order become the majority and naturally move away from the idea of a Jewish state.
Since Israeli Jews would never allow that to happen, they would be forced to make Israel into a true apartheid state, keeping its majority of non-Jewish citizens in a second-class status. There is and should be no future for such states in today's world.
Some Palestinians (I suspect Hamas are among them) have already figured this out and therefore have essentially abandoned the two-state solution. Soon they will figure out that by asking to be absorbed by Israel, they can more easily and swiftly win control over the region than they can by violence.
This means that Israel, more so than the Palestinians, needs a two-state solution, and it needs it enshrined and legalised now, before the Palestinians and the world all realise that the other option would put an end to the Jewish state more efficiently and easily.
Professor of Sociology, Queens College, CUNY, Flushing, New York
We now arrive at the decision for recognition of Palestinian statehood. The USA and Israel are saying "negotiate rather than apply for statehood". Why, if they agree the Palestinians can get their state after negotiation, why not now?
When Netanyahu says negotiate, where has he been these past two years? Building more walls, creating more settlements or, as he calls them, "facts on the ground". Remember as well his call (or was it statement?) to the US Congress, for Sumaria and Judea to be part of the Jewish state (he got a standing ovation for that bit); Sumaria and Judea means the whole of the West Bank.
So much for negotiation: "What's mine is mine and what's yours we will discuss, but it's mine also".
But Obama is trapped, the 26 standing ovations that Netanyahu received in July are testimony to that. So what do we Europeans do? We need to be detached from the US coat-tails and make it clear we believe in a Palestinian state, recognise the 1967 borders and warn Israel that their main trading partner will stop their special access to our markets by the withdrawal of their Associate Agreement with the EU unless she behaves better than the "rogue state" she is becoming.
Will the EU ban Israel? Not a cat's chance in hell.
Although the Palestinians have conceded much more than they have ever been given by Israel, every time they seek to obtain support from the international community, there has to be some quid pro quo to satiate the Israeli government.
The latest is the "caveat" suggested by the Quartet that the Palestinians should "address Israel's demand that it be recognised as a Jewish state" ("Palestinians to submit UN membership letter", 20 September). Israel has been recognised by the Palestinian Authority, which should no more have to acknowledge it as a "Jewish state" than it has to acknowledge any other state on the basis of the religion or ethnicity of its citizens.
Why on earth should or would the PA be party to what is a green light for Israel's right-wing government to "transfer" non-Jewish Palestinians, who constitute 20 per cent of Israel's population, from their homeland? In pushing for such recognition, is the Quartet ready to acknowledge that it will be complicit in the almost inevitable consequent ethnic cleansing of Palestinians?
Population transfer is at the heart of Zionism, Israel's founding ideology; let it be known as a Zionist state, for that is what it is.
Boys were not 'cage-fighting'
I suppose it's inevitable that any media discussion of children and martial arts will inevitably become shrouded in stereotype and hysteria.
The Luke Griggs letter (23 September) is a prime example. Mixed martial arts events are staged in an octagon which is the MMA version of a ring. The "cage-fighting" term is largely an invention of the tabloid press, invoking images of illegal "last man standing", "fight to the finish" street events, which have no similarity to the highly regulated MMA contests.
And what the boys were doing was not boxing. They were practising the techniques they learnt respectively at their judo dojos or wrestling clubs. By attaching the term "boxing" to the boys, Mr Griggs and sensationalist media commentators import data about the danger of "strikes" totally irrelevant to a grappling-style competition.
Of course there are educational and health and safety issues. Should eight-year-olds be in any type of competitive situation? Should children be on display? An octagon floor is harder than a dojo, so are eight-year-olds ready for it? So far, the police appear satisfied on these issues.
Mr Griggs' assertion that these boys will inevitably be involved in some form of escalation either on the street or in an MMA "cage" is simply unproven. It comes from an assumption that martial arts for children is wrong rather than that it must be made safe for them.
These boys might leave martial arts altogether, or stay amateur perhaps competing at Olympic level in judo or wrestling disciplines. It would be an irony if they stepped off Olympic podiums in 15 years to declare that, "We almost didn't make it due to media intrusion into our childhoods".
Fed up with the Nimbys
So Roger Hammersley thinks that the construction of 42 houses in his village constitutes "dismantling of our countryside"? (letter, 22 September). Get a grip. It's 42 houses, for crying out loud.
I'm sure that I'm not the only one who is fed up to the back teeth with the whingeing and whining of these Nimbys, who profess to be concerned about protection of the environment but are so clearly only concerned with the effect on the financial value of their own "property" of increased local housing supply.
Do people such as Mr Hammersley ever consider that if the people who lived in the village before him had taken the same selfish attitude, then he wouldn't be living in the house he is now?
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Philharmonic hits sour note
We are shocked at the action taken by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in suspending for nine months four musicians who signed a letter to The Independent, requesting that the concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra be cancelled (letter, 30 August).
LPO chief executive Timothy Walker and chairman Martin Hobmann have stated that "For the LPO, music and politics do not mix". It is a pity that the Israeli Philharmonic does not, itself, follow this approach by refusing to play for the Israeli Defence Forces within the illegally occupied Palestinian territories. Instead, by giving these performances, the Israeli Philharmonic endorses the Israeli state's oppressive, illegal – and highly political – occupation.
Whatever the London Philharmonic's intention in disciplining its orchestra members in this fashion, the effect, have no doubt, is to give very political comfort to those who daily destroy Palestinian liberty, lives and hopes.
We urge the London Philharmonic to lift the suspension it has imposed.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians, London W9
Admiral West says sorry
I would be grateful if you could carry the following apology to His Excellency The Belgian Ambassador, and Her Excellency The Danish Ambassador.
I apologise unreservedly for my intemperate language during a press conference on Thursday to launch proposals for a new procurement policy for the UK. I have very great respect for the Belgian and Danish nations and people. Indeed, I have enjoyed working closely with members of your Armed Forces over many years and have always been aware of their significant contribution to Nato and their sacrifice in conflict.
If you were able to view the question asked at the conference and my full response, I hope you would see that my exasperation was directed not at Belgium and Denmark themselves but at those pundits whom I regard as naive, continually trying to compare the United Kingdom's geostrategic status with that of countries whose size and history have made us very different nations.
It was not my intention to give offence and I do regret any caused.
Admiral The Rt Hon Lord West of Spithead GCB DSC
In August 1942, when I was a boy staying in a village near Aberporth on Cardigan Bay, from time to time a strange aircraft would fly slowly up and down the coast as if looking for something (a waiting U-boat?). The coastal anti-aircraft guns would fire at it, but never managed to hit it. Dr Stephens's letter (23 September) explains why.
Perspectives on smoking
Cigarette-vending machine ban is a senseless waste
Cigarette-vending machines are to be banned from 1 October. This is said to prevent a third of children (under 18) from accessing them. But all our machines are on licensed premises and vending machines account for less than 2 per cent of tobacco sales. Even one of the High Court appeal judges commented that the reason for the ban was suspect.
Consequently, combined with the ban on smoking in pubs and clubs, we will lose half our business and income. We are fortunate that we have other business interests but there are some vending companies that will close entirely because of these bans, but the Government refuses to compensate us for the loss of the machines and our income.
Yet the Government continues to pour billions of pounds into the EU, which cannot get its own accountants to agree to its accounts, millions are paid to quangos and public servants in redundancy payments and they are then re-employed as consultants paid vast fees, millions are wasted in fraudulent benefit payments and house rents up to £8,000 per month are paid for families who have never worked.
I am passionately patriotic and proud to be British but I am seriously concerned that the politicians are getting richer and more powerful while those of us who work are struggling to make ends meet.
We have collected and contributed many thousands of pounds in VAT, tobacco and income taxes to HMRC yet we get nothing in return for the theft of our businesses and income. How can this be fair and how can this be part of the "Big Society" where everyone is encouraged to contribute to the country?
Cookes Vending Services, Swindon, Wiltshire
Where there's smoke, there's ire
To expand on Julian Sutton's apposite comments on the fuss about smoking in films (letters, 21 September), perhaps the Stalinist airbrush should be applied to the popular songbook too for our protection.
Here we have previously applied content warnings: "I light up another cigarette", to quote Beverly Craving (!) will have to go, as will "C********* and Alcohol" (bleep with coughing, and we'll come back to the other can of worms in the second part of the lyric in a later dictat).
There's no hope for "C********* and Whiskey and Wild Wild Women". Anything by Smokey Robinson will be subject to parental discretion, "S**** Gets In Your Eyes" is anti-social and, just to be sure, we'd better ban "S**** On The Water" too.
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