Hamas must be so disappointed. Only 170 dead and not many of them the children they took such care to put in the line of fire. You see, they understand the Western media better than we do ourselves.
Hearts bleed copiously whenever Israel tries to stop Hamas rockets being launched from a clutch of domestic housing. It’s nothing to do with me. I’m not Jewish and have never been to Israel. I’m a great admirer of Arab culture and the Sufis.
But why do the Hamas/Islamic Jihad threats of genocide seem to mean nothing to the bien-pensants here? Why do we keep swallowing their propaganda whole and, without pausing for a little chewing-time, start vilifying the Israelis?
Steve Kerensky, Morecambe
Professor Walker is right to remind us that European colonisation has historically been catastrophic for the peoples of the territories that have been annexed. Canadian Indians, Australian Aborigines, Caribs suffered horrendously. The Spanish Empire wrecked civilisations. And it is no different with Israel. Since that country has already instituted apartheid, the logical thrust of its brutal treatment of the Palestinians, the original owners of the land, will be to obliterate them.
Michael Rosenthal, Banbury, Oxfordshire
I wonder if the Israeli government realises how its lethal and apparently indiscriminate attack on Gaza is affecting public opinion, even among moderates, around the world?
Harriet Kennett, South Warnborough, Hampshire
Your correspondent Dr Jacob Amir’s (Letters, 12 July) history of Palestine in 1947 is highly selective, and accords with what Israel wants us to believe.
He claims that Palestinan Jewry accepted the 1947 UN partition plan, but ignores the many Jews who rejected it and wanted still more land than the 60 per cent they received from the UN. He also ignores the many Arabs who then and today oppose ethnic discrimination and favour ethnic equality within a democratic state (what today is called “the one-state solution”).
Within this framework, there would be no need to dismantle the settlements, but the settlers would have to accept the principles of democracy and ethnic equality. What is so bad about that?
John Bibby, York
The Israeli government has told residents in Gaza to leave their homes before the planned attack takes place. Just where are they supposed to go?
Alison Chown, Bridport, Dorset
In the current conflict in Gaza casualty figures play a large role in the minds of uninvolved observers. When they hear that no Israelis have been killed by missiles fired from Gaza into Israel, but that 100 Gazans have been killed by Israeli counter-strikes, people tend to sympathise with the side that has the larger body count. But that is simplistic.
Notwithstanding the fact that c.650 missiles that have been fired from Gaza into Israel in the past few days, starting the conflict, there have been no deaths in Israel because the majority of the missiles targeted at populated areas have been intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. This has been developed by Israel at great expense precisely to protect its civilian population from such repeated attacks. The Red Alert alarm sounds to warn civilians to run for cover.
Jack Cohen, Netanya, Israel
Has Israel never considered another option in its relationship with Gaza? Instead of endless bombing which achieves nothing except to stoke further resentment and hate why not try killing with kindness? Building hospitals, schools, and generally contributing to the welfare of the people of Gaza would considerably lessen the appeal of Hamas and it might cause Israel to pause before it destroys its own handiwork.
Nicky Ford, Guildford, Surrey
Return of the ‘snoopers’ charter’
As Benjamin Franklin said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” When is a snooping charter, not a snooping charter– when David Cameron and his stooge Nick Clegg call it the Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill (report, 11 July).
Will this legislation be applied to companies? Will it apply to multinationals that supply weapons to terrorists? Will it apply to tax dodgers? Will it apply to politicians? No? Thought not.
This draconian law isn’t happening in other EU countries, so why just the UK? It would seem that Obama and the NSA’s influence trumps everything, even EU law.
In 1979 Stiff Little Fingers sang “They take away our freedom in the name of liberty”. They were singing about the terrorists; 35 years later it could equally apply to our government.
Julie Partridge, London SE15
The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill has been allotted one day this week before the Commons and one day before the Lords before voting day and the summer recess.
This Bill has the support of all three political leaders and directly flouts the ruling of the European Court of Justice that the UK government’s powers to submit all UK citizens to electronic surveillance without particularity, judicial oversight, appeal or review are essentially illegal.
The European Human Rights Convention provides guarantees of legal protection for all citizens. This essential security is explained in the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 1948.
Respect for the Declaration, and implementation of the international human rights conventions that followed, is as fundamental to democracy as is the independence of the judiciary.
What evidence suddenly convinced Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband that this Bill was so urgent that it must be whipped through to the vote, thereby denying Parliament the time to consider the implications and consequences of their votes?
And why, given the acts of terrorism and violence, does the UK Government impose severe cutbacks on our police forces, and deny the police a more than decent pay rise?
Vanessa Redgrave, London SW1
Network Rail is definitely on track
Network Rail has been entrusted by its regulator and Government to spend and invest £38bn over the next five years in running and improving Britain’s railway (“Trains, fines and big claims – Network Rail is way off track”, 11 July).
A strong and diverse supplier base is crucial to our success. We have over 4,000 regular suppliers and of the £7bn spent and invested in our railway last year, 98.5 per cent was with companies that are based or have significant presence in the UK.
As someone new to the industry, I see clearly that we need to make further improvements, especially to train punctuality, which currently stands at 90 per cent, and we will do so over the coming years. Overall, the rail network is providing its users with a service that is seeing record levels of safety, passenger numbers, satisfaction and investment but there is still much to improve.
We recognise that we are entirely accountable for investing wisely and making every penny count to improve our railway. That is precisely what we are and will be doing.
Mark Carne, Chief Executive, Network Rail, London N1
Failing schools? Blame the council
The head of Ofsted castigates councils for not raising concerns about under-performing schools (report, 12 July).
So, after 12 years of successive governments forcing the transfer of nearly all education funding from Local Education Authorities to schools and the private sector, thus leading to the dismantling of School Effectiveness Services across the country, followed by drastic reductions in other council funding which make it impossible to find money to maintain such services, how exactly are councils supposed to do that?
John Prescott urged Tony Blair not to abolish LEAs because then any blame for shortcomings would fall on national government. Wrong again, John.
Paul Clein, Liverpool
Same-sex ballroom dancing ban
Joyce Grenfell would have been dismayed to learn that two ladies should not dance together and then would not have written, “Stately as a galleon, we glided across the floor...” (report, 11 July).
Lorna Roberts, London N2
Bemused by bearded barbs
Janet Street-Porter writes (12 July) that she doesn’t know a single woman who finds a full beard remotely attractive. As someone with a full beard, I can put her mind at rest.
Steve Mills, London SW17