The events unfolding on the Gaza Strip have filled the world with horror. One might have thought that, by now, we would have become accustomed to the cycle of violence in that part of the world, but each new round seems to only ratchet up the revulsion.
Through it all however, there is one question that remains unanswered: what is it that Israel wants from the Palestinian people?
It cannot be a viable two-state solution. Events on the West Bank, where each new settlement nibbles away at any potential Palestinian state, demonstrate that. So what will make Israel happy and persuade it to sign a lasting peace treaty?
For over three decades now, I have tried to peer through the fog of rhetoric and the obfuscation of propaganda, and I still don’t know. Can anyone supply the answer?
Newcastle upon Tyne
Peter DeVillez (letter, 29 July) refers to “the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land outside their internationally recognised borders” as the underlying reason for the conflict.
He is obviously unaware that such borders simply do not exist. The armistice agreements after the 1948 war specified explicitly, in accord with Arab demands, that the armistice lines should not be considered as international borders.
Israel is the sole existing successor state to the Palestine Mandate – the UN-proposed Arab state never having been set up – and so has as good a claim as any to occupy the totality of the land within it.
Martin D Stern
Salford, Greater Manchester
Philip Hammond the Foreign Secretary, illustrates what grotesque double standards this country operates. Sanctions are apparently perfectly justified against Russia for its action in Ukraine. A different set of standards, though, apply to Israel.
Hammond can argue about the use of the words “proportionate” or “disproportionate” in relation to the killing of men, women and children in Gaza. While the BBC and others hype up Hamas rockets and tunnels to make this appear in some way a fair fight, the casualty figures tell an altogether different story. Some 55 Israelis (overwhelmingly soldiers) killed compared to more than 1,200 men, women and children killed by the Israeli attacks.
This is slaughter on a mass scale, and it is a sign of just how inane the West has become that it can sit by and watch it happen – or in some cases even seek to justify it.
Dominic Kirkham (letter, 28 July) is quite right to say Zionism has traduced Judaism – and it is even worse than he thinks. He calls the concept of justice encapsulated in the phrase “an eye for an eye” savagery; but what that phrase really means is that the punishment should never exceed the offence, the idea being to curtail savagery, limit vengeance.
This is a basic concept of allowable retaliation in Jewish law. But not even this is being observed by Israel – its punishment of Gaza far exceeds, by several orders of magnitude, the impotent attacks of Hamas.
The Israelis claim that they are issuing warnings before their attacks. But the IRA used to issue warnings before attacking targets in the UK mainland, and that was still seen as unjustifiable terrorist action – as was the infamous attack by the Irgun group on the King David Hotel in 1946. That, too, was preceded by a warning, which Menachem Begin later claimed was ignored by the British to enable them to vilify Jewish groups.
To its credit, the British Government did not decide that the best response to IRA terrorism was to send tanks into the Bogside and order airstrikes to kill large numbers of civilians, however “unintentionally”. Maybe the Israelis should take note that in the case of such long-standing grievances, a solution is only ever found by including your enemies in meaningful dialogue in the spirit of compromise, rather than trying to exterminate them by force.
Robert Fisk (29 July) writes that the authorities should be as concerned about British subjects returning from serving in the Israeli military as Jihadists returning from Syria.
But while Jihadists have blown up Tube trains, murdered Lee Rigby and had many other deadly plots foiled, there is not one instance of any criminal activity in this country by anyone serving in the IDF.
The fact that British Jews make up less then 0.1 per cent of the prison population shows that his fears are totally misplaced.
Suppose Iran had the Bomb.
Voodoo morality at Lloyds bank
I read on your front page (29 July) that “traders” at Lloyds Bank have been caught fiddling interest rates so that they could nick money from the Bank of England – that is, so they could nick our money. They did this by using money that we gave them – £20.5bn – after they’d lost all our other money. Now the Government is fining the bank – but not the traders – a measly £217m.
And how will the bank pay that fine? Um – by using the money that we already gave them.
Do they think we’re stupid? They’re right.
I work at a university where business studies is seen as a decent subject and has money and text books and facilities thrown at it. (Unlike archaeology, for instance, which was recently deemed too unimportant a subject to continue to exist as a school of its own: heaven forfend that we might learn something from the lessons of the past.)
Business studies seems to me to be a subject that does not seem to be proven to work in any way. It is like funding a course in voodoo. They take money. They throw it away. They get rich. We pay them more money. They throw it away. They get rich. The country disappears down the drain. They throw it away. They get rich. Why is this seen as a good system or as a subject worthy of study? If it’s working so well, how come everyone on the planet – apart from the very, very few – is so poor?
These will not be designer babies
I want to respond to concerns regarding government proposals to legalise mitochondrial donation in the UK (“Government accused of dishonesty over GM babies”, 28 July).
Let us be clear, we are not opening the doors to so-called “designer babies”. Mitochondrial donation does not involve manipulating the nuclear DNA which determines personal characteristics and human traits. This is and will remain illegal.
It is true that in the absence of a universally agreed definition of genetic modification, we have agreed a working definition with expert scientists. However, we have been entirely open and transparent by sharing this with Parliament in March, just as we have been transparent about the process in the last five years.
Changes to fertility techniques understandably cause concern, and it is right that people debate the issue. IVF is a perfect example. In 1978, when Lesley Brown gave birth to the first IVF baby, the technique was highly controversial and divisive. Now it is widely accepted as a way to give families the children they might otherwise not have had.
We must now have the courage to push forward and give future mothers the chance to have children born free from devastating mitochondrial diseases.
Professor Dame Sally C Davies
Chief Medical Officer for England
Department of Health
Family living together shock
Again in the news people are berating record numbers of adult children living at home: the “clipped wing generation” (“A quarter of young working adults still live with parents”, 29 July).
As a 41-year-old man living with my father and my brother, I resent the implication that I am somehow abnormal. I have lived in many different countries (I spent six years working in Australia), but I now choose to live at home because it gives me the financial freedom to pursue my dream of self-employment, and because my father likes having my brother and me around.
In many cultures it is perfectly normal for families to live together under one roof. Britain needs to temper the ethnocentric assumption that children must leave home in order to be truly adult and truly successful.
Britain, the Clarkson version
You report that foreigners see the British as ignorant of other cultures, intolerant, rude, unfriendly and pessimistic.
This was followed by a report on Jeremy Clarkson’s racist behaviour on Top Gear, a programme beamed around the world.
Is there any link, do you think?