Letters: Turning a blind eye to the butchery in Gaza

These letters appear in the 24th July issue of The Independent

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Next time we ask why young people from this country and other western societies rush off to the Middle East to become blood-hungry jihadists, just think back to these days in Gaza. Think about the silence and hypocrisy of western leaders.

Think of David Cameron sticking out his chest at Putin because of the butchery in the skies over Ukraine, but turning a blind eye to the butchery in Gaza at the hands of the Israelis. Of course he says Israel should exercise restraint. Isn’t it time he told them and us if he feels they actually have exercised restraint?

It’s time for politicians here and in America and other countries to wake up and smell the corpses of the innocent dead in Gaza. And next time Cameron wants to lead the charge to supply arms to groups elsewhere in the world involved in civil wars, he should just stop and think again about that butchery over Ukraine, and how that came to be.

Jill Dobbs, London SE16


Benjamin Netanyahu’s action is doomed to fail in the long term, as all it will do is radicalise a new generation of Palestinians. There is genuine concern among Israelis for their security, but the present action will only perpetuate the existing antipathy between the two communities, each of which secretly believes the only solution is the complete obliteration of the other.

It is time for both sides to accept that to get anything you must give something, and each offer the other an opportunity for peace and security.

Keith B Watts, Wolverhampton


While the UK, US and European governments worry about 500 western Muslims who are learning jihad in Syria and Iraq, we in Israel are living daily with a terror organisation whose charters call for our destruction. 

The death toll in Gaza is to be laid at the door of Hamas. They do not want peace. We left Gaza in 2005 hoping that the Palestinians would “get on with it”. The only thing they got on with was making rockets to kill Israeli civilians.

We have made a cold peace with Egypt and Jordan, but the Palestinians have refused every offer. They are not prepared to compromise and their demands are such that even Israel’s left-wing parties, who would dismantle most of the settlements, could not agree to them. Israelis want peace and are prepared to compromise, but we are not prepared to commit suicide.

Henry Tobias, Maale Adumim, Israel


Can it be just over a week since Israel accepted the peace plan to end their attack on Gaza if Hamas stopped showering rockets on them? How quickly do memories fade!

The problem is that if a lasting ceasefire could be made to happen, Hamas would have no reason to exist, as it requires a permanent state of war.

An end to hostilities would enable the big powers to force Israel to give up its ill-gotten territorial gains and pave the way to a viable Palestinian state. However, this means there being a permanent Israeli state, something Hamas will never accept. So the killing goes on.

Lyn Brooks, Ongar, Essex


Of all Israel’s attempts at justifying the slaughter perhaps the most threadbare is the accusation that Hamas is using civilians as “human shields”.

All of Gaza is one densely populated residential area, apart from some agricultural land. Should Hamas place military equipment in the open fields for the convenience of Israeli planes bombing from a great height?

Hilary Wise, London W5


Does Prime Minister Netanyahu imagine that the long-term security of Jews in the Holy Land is best assured by bombing Palestinians in Gaza and dispossessing them in the West Bank?

Brian Beeley, Tunbridge Wells, Kent


I am not usually a reader of your newspaper, but I bought it today (21 July) because it was the only one on the shelves that showed on its front page the horror of Gaza. Thank you for your coverage. There seems to be such a big silence, when there should be outcry, especially from heads of state.

Eve Mountain, Waterlooville, Hampshire


Health and safety and a childhood denied

Frank Furedi (The Big Read, 22 July) rightly bemoans the appalling continuing erosion of liberty for children.

Here in Marlborough with our partners of 32 years in the Muslim fishing community of Gunjur in The Gambia, we are witnessing an extraordinary paradox. Since 1985 we have sent groups of 17- and 18-year-olds to live with families in that community, to get involved in construction projects with young Gambians as a means to learning about a different culture and a sense of community which is second to nothing that you could find in the UK. It’s a programme of which we are hugely proud, and grateful to our partners, and which has influenced many young lives.

But now risk assessments and health and safety are uppermost in our preparation, to the extent that hard hats and protective clothing should be worn, and no young person must swim in the glorious sea off The Gambia’s beaches. The cost to our small charitable organisation of insurance cover for these trips is rising, and the whole programme is put at risk.

All the while children in Gunjur play freely and at ease in the secure environment of their own and neighbouring large family compounds with no traffic, cared for by the village and the extended family as well as their individual parents.

We run the risk that our children will never grow up as independent beings with an understanding of boundaries, because they have never been allowed to take a risk. Where is the forum in which we can have a proper debate, recognising that at the moment the insurance companies, and that part of the legal profession encouraging us to obtain compensation, are laughing all the way to the bank?

Dr Nick Maurice, Director, Marlborough Brandt Group, Marlborough, Wiltshire


It’s not just the children. My son-in-law recently took part in the parents’ race on school sports day. The previous week, a similar race, run round a field, resulted in a parent falling and dislocating his collarbone.

For the race in question to take place at all, therefore, it was deemed necessary by the head that participants would run with beanbags on their heads to reduce speed, even though the athletics track of the local independent school was being used.

My son-in-law was not amused.

Lavinia Martins, Kingston Blount, Oxfordshire


Baffled by ‘efficient’ heating system

I’m a Brit living in America (since 1998), and recently returned to England to visit my parents for the summer vacation. I was equally amused and disturbed since my last visit to see that a Hive Home rep from British Gas had visited my parents and installed a new smart thermostat system.

I asked my 79-year-old mother (my father is blind and disabled) how the system works. She said: “I don’t know, but I have the installer’s phone number.”

On reading through the user guide, I found that the “smart” system can be controlled through a computer (which my mother can’t use), or an iPhone app (my mother doesn’t have an iphone), or through a digital display control panel installed in the living room.

I asked my mother what system she’d like. She said: “I like the old system with an on/off switch in the kitchen.”

I asked my mother what the installation technician said when he came to install it. She said that he said the smart system would be “more efficient”.

How is this for efficiency? When my mother needs to change the hot water schedule, she calls me in New York, and I make the changes on my iPhone, in New York. Another case of design-led innovation that fails to ask the simple question “What does the customer want?”

Mark Crowther, New York


Fallible Pope?

The head of the Catholic Church, having recently visited the Holy Land, believes he can help to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, an intractable problem of the past 100 years or so. He would also like to end the schism between his own church and the Eastern Orthodox, something no predecessor for over a millennium has been able to achieve. Does this represent the triumph of Pope over experience?

Tim Hudson, Chichester, West Sussex


Values doomed to disappear

The new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, is threatening to strike off teachers who do not protect “British values”. If Scotland does achieve independence, I assume that we will then be protecting only English, Welsh and Northern Irish values. I look forward to seeing the Department’s document explaining this when the time comes.

Charles Freeman, Brandeston, Suffolk