Letters to the Editor

Israeli state is engaged in enacting policies of apartheid

After reading Martin D Stern’s muddled missive (September 24), I must confess to laughing and for that I thank Mr Stern.

He takes issue with my use of the terms ‘rogue state of Israel’ and ‘barbaric conduct of the Israeli state’. Yet the UN has expressly stated that Israel is engaged in enacting policies of apartheid and is repeatedly in breach of international law. Additionally, the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, has compiled an accessible report on the Israeli slaughter of 2,202 individuals, including 180 children aged five or younger, in Gaza in 2014.
Israel, since its bloody inception in 1948, has been the epitome of a rogue state, and its barbaric conduct appears to be escalating, championed by apologists.

In the matter of the term ‘Semitic’, Allow me to assist Mr Stern in understanding the basics. Semites are those who speak a Semitic language and, more importantly, have an associated ethnicity, a group that includes Arabs and Mizrahi/Sephardi Jews. Most Semites are of the former. Mr Stern inexplicably refers to Yiddish, Ladino and even Latin in his confused spiel. Yet none of this has anything to do with the exclusion of Arabs from the term anti-Semitic, regardless of who first used the term. Wilheim Marr clearly discriminated against Arabs in his decision to exclude them from the term. It’s interesting that Martin Stern uses Marr’s definition of anti-Semitism, as Marr was notoriously anti-Jewish, founding the League of Antisemites in 1879.

Newry, Co Down


No politician rushing to take ownership of unionist legacy 

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights campaign I have often wondered at the continued absence of an apology from a unionist politician for the complete mess they created with their sectarian
Stormont regime.
The closest we got was Ian Paisley, in the winter of his years, when he was trying to stick the boot into the DUP. In the course of rewriting his career, (it’s not just republicans who try that one), Paisley conceded to Eamonn Mallie that of course he knew in the 1960s that there were a lot of injustices. For some reason he kept that ‘revelation’ to himself at the time. Eager to reinvent himself as a cross between Gandhi and Mandela, this religious demagogue effectively declared his whole career was designed to preserve a system that he believed  immoral.

More recently, courtesy of the RHI inquiry, and even taking a most generous view, we have an insight into staggering levels of incompetence of both our politicians and civil servants. But then just as you would not choose your plumber, electrician or doctor, based on where he or she worships, what sort of idiocy would suggest that running an entire statelet this way would be any better? Think of all the bright and talented nationalists or Catholics who were excluded, the ones unionist PM Brookeborough claimed he wouldn’t “have about his own place”.
So the limited talent pool of unionism, and there must be puddles in the road with more depth, took the then industrial powerhouse of Ireland, and over 50 years produced one of the most impoverished parts of the UK. As Paisley might have said, “by their deeds ye shall know them”. Funnily enough no unionist politician has been rushing to take ownership of that legacy either.

So here we are in 2018, with the DUP, in their traditional role of ‘useful idiots’ for the Tory right wing promoting Brexit, one has to ask really what is new? Even more so, one does wonder when the unionist community will wake up to the fact that they created this hole, (in more ways than one), and maybe they should stop digging by voting they way they have and do. 

Belfast BT9


Homeless organisations deserve our support

The recent public criticisms of the Welcome Organisation and its work with homeless people is as unjustified as it is dangerous.

We live in a very damaged society which is often all too ready to write people off and throw them on the scrap heap.

It is crazy to pretend that cuts to public services, welfare reform,  a lack of affordable public housing and high levels of social deprivation will not result in the kind of problems we are witnessing on our streets.

It is even crazier to point the finger at, and lay the blame on, those organisations and groups that are trying to alleviate the distress and despair.

Be angry by all means but direct that anger at a system that devalues human beings and at the political parties which play along with that and which fail to represent the most vulnerable and needy in our community

I met recently with staff at the Welcome Centre to talk about their work and I have nothing but praise for the difficult and often thankless work that they undertake. They need our support not our condemnation.

West Belfast can be a caring and a compassionate community. We need to demonstrate that now more than ever and appreciate the complexities of the problems being faced. 

Organisations like the Welcome Centre are worthy of our backing and our support for the challenging work that they do. 

Workers Party, West Belfast


No real progress

The blanket discussion which has seen the various movers and shakers of the Duke Street March of 50 years ago speak about what it meant for them and its legacy for now and in the future, has been thoughtful.

Amongst those who have spoken have been Eamon McCann and Bernadette McAliskey and together with the likes of the Sinn Féin and the SDLP hierarchies have lauded self-congratulations upon themselves that they are inclusive.
However, it’s interesting to note that these examples of self-righteousness that this inclusiveness will not and must not include the unborn. Yeah, real progress.

Clonoe, Co Tyrone


No return to dark days of bomb and bullet

On pages one and nine in Monday’s edition (September 24) of The Irish News. Mr Dan O’Brien, chief economist ofthe Institute of International and European Affairs, calls for a referendum to be held. In the 2016 referendum two years ago 56 per cent backed to remain in the EU. With the uncertainty of a hard border, which we do not want, I hope the result will be much greater as we do not want to return to the dark days of the bombs and the bullets.

Castlederg, Co Tyrone 

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