Israel’s actions against unarmed Palestinian protesters are reprehensible

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Sunday 01 April 2018 18:43
Israel responded to peaceful protests with frontline violence
Israel responded to peaceful protests with frontline violence

Israel’s defence minister Avigdor Lieberman brazenly states that “all our soldiers deserve a medal”, in the aftermath of the bloody massacre that claimed the lives of 16 Palestinians.

As an Arab and a Muslim, I must assert that antisemitic rhetoric only fuels hatred, communal discord and mutual animosities. However, Israel’s reprehensible actions, its contempt for international humanitarian law, human life and dignity have shrunk not only the windows for peace but sympathies for its dark past during the Nazi era.

It seems to me that humanity has reached yet another low level of depravity, that Israel has not learnt the lessons of the Holocaust and that “never again” remains a hollow slogan without any meaning or purpose.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London NW2

Where is the international outcry of condemnation over the deaths of 16 Palestinians near the border of Gaza? Since when was it even remotely acceptable for snipers to shoot protesters dead with live ammunition?

One has to assume that the answer is: when the snipers are Israeli soldiers and outrage is tempered by anxiety about being accused of antisemitism.

D Maughan Brown

More than 2000 years ago an unarmed man accused of inciting terrorism was put to death by the occupying state. He was remembered on Good Friday. That evening, the news reported the deaths of 16 unarmed Palestinians killed by today’s occupying state.

Their deaths were justified as a response to terrorism. Bullets, tank fire and tear gas met stones and unarmed protesters. Why are we silent yet again? How many times can we turn our heads and pretend we don’t see?

Rachel McKenzie
London SE22

MPs absolutely can – and should – overturn Brexit

In response to John F Cushine’s letter, which argues that MPs have no place overturning Brexit, it must be pointed out that following the referendum result, a government promise made six years prior resurfaced that any referendum “cannot be legally binding”, but rather is advisory.

In any event there was a democratic majority to remain in Northern Ireland.

Parliament remains sovereign under the British constitution. Indeed, in the 1975 referendum there were Conservatives who did not vote because they believed referenda were not part of the British constitution.

In addition, the EU Referendum Act did not give the vote to all British citizens wherever they are in the world, so there was the usual British absence of full democracy.

Ian Martin
Bangkok, Thailand

In John F Cushines’s letter, the assertion is made that MPs are elected to represent the views of their constituents, and would do well to remember that.

But MPs are actually elected to represent the best interests of their constituents through Commons chamber debate and careful consideration, taking into account their parties’ stated policies – not to go running to them on every issue to seek their guidance.

Perhaps he looks forward to the day technology can replace the House of Commons with a voting box in every home. The electorate would then only need to decide who got to ask the questions, and tell the lies and deceit required to gain the “right” answer. I suppose it would at least be cheaper than the current so-called democratic process.

David Curran
Feltham, Middlesex

It’s the EU – not the Netherlands – which helps restrict takeovers

Chris Blackhurst writes that Dutch law is more restrictive on takeovers than UK law. But isn’t it EU law, in our case, we decided to opt out of?

I worked for a Dutch-owned company with a factory in England. The whole company was taken over by a Finnish company. In the Netherlands this was subject to the approval by the concern ondernemings raad, the COR, which is often translated in English as the Works Council.

The Finns had to make a presentation to the COR and were asked questions about the plans for the future.

In contrast, at the factory in England there was no consultation: we had no idea what was going to happen. One day we were Dutch owned and the next day were Finnish owned, and eventually we discovered what the Finns had in mind.

As far as I know, things like the COR are part of the EU’s “social chapter”, which the UK decided to opt out of, as the government of the day had the mistaken idea that trade unions would be telling managements how to run their businesses. The social chapter recognised that employees and communities, as well as shareholders, have an interest in how businesses are managed.

Ian K Watson

It is offensive and hypocritical for Stephen Hawking’s funeral to be held in a church

Further to Professor Stephen Hawking’s funeral yesterday, as a non-believer I am much puzzled.

Hawking was an atheist who wrote in 2010 that the Big Bang was due to the laws of gravity and did not occur following the intervention of a divine being (“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going”). On the other hand, the Christian and religious view is that an extraneous planetary authority whom we call God created the universe and participated on Earth via Jesus, known to Christians as the Son of God. The two stances are seriously at odds with one another.

So how come Hawking’s burial was conducted via a service in a Cambridge church? The Book of Common Prayer states that the priest shall publicly say: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Surely it is the height of hypocrisy to bury a non-Christian accompanied by Christian sentiments in which he did not believe? After all, the Prayer Book specifically forbids the burial service to be used for those who die unbaptised or who are excommunicated. Won’t, therefore, many people think that the performance of the service was totally inappropriate?

It is also reported that on 15 June Hawking’s ashes are to be interred in another church, Westminster Abbey. Again, isn’t this inappropriate? Won’t congregations in future be praying to God in the worrying knowledge that in their midst lie the ashes of a vigorous non-believer?

David Ashton
Shipbourne, Kent

May has betrayed her own vanity

Theresa May talks about uniting our disunited kingdom, and then buys a picture of the moment that she signed Article 50. I’m not quite sure how this utterly conceited and insensitive act will help to heal the deep and lasting wounds caused by Brexit.

Patrick Cosgrove

The latest litter law is clearly flawed

How on earth will the government’s decision to fine litter louts be enforced? Use of handheld mobile phones when driving is against the law, but it is all too rarely enforced.

Perhaps anyone who is actually seen to be dropping litter should also have to spend time litter picking.

Marlene Goffey
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

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