Letters to the Editor

UN obsessed by Israel to point of ignoring atrocities across the world

I wish to respond to several points raised by Francis Rice (October 1). He suggests that Jews in Syria, Iraq and Tunisia lived without fear before the foundation of Israel. He ignores the Farhud, a violent Nazi-inspired pogrom that took place in Iraq in 1941 in which hundreds of Jews were killed and their homes destroyed. He also ignores the 1929 attacks on Jews in Safed, Hebron and other towns which were incited by, among other factors, false claims that Jews were planning to take over the Al-Aqsa mosque. The histories of Morocco and Egypt in particular provide numerous examples of anti-Jewish incidents prior to 1948.

Mr Rice’s statement about 700,000 Palestinians driven out by Jews in 1948 is not supported by the latest scholarship. While evictions happened in some cases, the majority either fled due to fear of the fighting, or were encouraged to leave by the leaders of the Arab armies attacking Israel. An early Arab victory was anticipated and Palestinian Arabs expected to return home within days. He ignores the tens of thousands of Jews evicted from the land that became the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Jordanian forces ethnically cleansed the Old City of thousands of Jews, destroyed synagogues and desecrated Jewish graves.

Israel’s Nation State law should not be read in isolation, but as part of a package of basic laws which hold semi-constitutional status. Relevant to Mr Rice’s complaint are the 1992 law on Human Dignity and Liberty, and a 1994 amendment which states that “fundamental human rights” in Israel should be upheld in the spirit of the principles of the Declaration of Independence. That declaration includes a clause that guarantees “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture”.

Mr Rice completely misrepresents the Olmert peace plan, which envisaged Israeli evacuation of some settlements and land swaps in exchange for keeping others, including giving more land to Gaza and providing a secure route between Gaza and the West Bank area. The plan offered East Jerusalem to Palestine, suggested putting the old city under international control and according to some reports considered an international peace keeping force in the West Bank preferable to an Israeli military presence.

He is also incorrect about Israeli immigration policy, and his letter includes an unnecessary slur in suggesting that anyone “however nefarious” with an “obscure ancestor” is welcome. The Law of Return for Jews grants entry to “the child or grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child and grandchild of a Jew”.  Non-Jews are entitled to apply for citizenship subject to provisions on length of residency and Hebrew language proficiency.

Mr Rice wonders why Israel has been the subject of so many UN resolutions. The answer seems to be that the UN is obsessed by Israel to the point of ignoring atrocities across the world, including the Syrian civil war and the crisis in Yemen, which together have displaced millions of refugees and caused at least half a million deaths.

Dublin 16


Foster’s warped vision of union is now in doubt

Arlene Foster must now realise that the end game is near. She paints a sad and pitiful figure, as her warped vision of the Union is now in doubt. Brexit, which ever way it pans out, will be the end of her. Arlene at her recent appearance at the RHI inquiry had trouble remembering what happened in 2016 but no trouble recalling 1690. At the recent Tory conference she could be seen cosying up to Boris Johnson with his latest brainwave to build a bridge between GB and the occupied part of Ireland. 

Foster wants to alter the Good Friday Agreement to the kind of Brexit that suits the DUP. A recent survey found 87 per cent of leave voters in the north of Ireland, who are overwhelmingly unionists, see the collapse of the peace process as an acceptable price to pay for Brexit.

The majority of people in the north voted to remain 56 per cent to 44 per cent, yet Arlene stubbornly ignores the wishes of the people.
Last week she could be seen in Brussels in a last ditch effort to get the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to listen to her pleas to protect her diminishing union. 

Following the Brexit Referendum the DUP rejected an invitation from the Dublin government for cross-border talks on the possible outcome of Brexit, Foster and her DUP colleagues flatly refused and insisted that the issues at stake were of internal British concern. She travelled to Dublin on Monday  to meet with the Irish government on a begging mission to save her bacon.
The Irish government should tell her where to go. Foster has contributed zero to the welfare of the north of Ireland now for some time, has failed to lead her party back to the power sharing executive. Under her leadership the DUP has become fossilised.
When Brexit is done, the enlightened and decent of Great Britain will give the DUP a wide berth.

Cricklewood, London


Posturing at wailing wall of Brexit

As selected members of the Democratic Unionist Party posture at the wailing wall of Brexit, threatening the demise of the Tory party, has it ever occurred to them that despite their unprincipled confidence and supply deal with Theresa May’s government their idle threats will be stymied by the 2011 Fixed Term Parliament Act which protects minority governments from dislodgement or overthrow. Parliaments must now run their five-year term unless the House of Commons vote to dissolve them by a two-thirds majority or the government loses two votes of confidence in succession. 

In view of this will those pontificating DUP members cease with their threats and channel their efforts to restoring a credible form of government to this part of the UK they keep twittering on about.

If we the electorate had one stark fact brought to our attention over the recent Brexit meetings in Brussels it is that we are represented by a duopoly, Sinn Féin and the DUP, who suffer from a singular lack of statesmanship.

Derry City


Better late than never

Newton Emerson (October 6) stated: “While it seems clear a British government including unionists could not be the impartial administrator the GFA requires, it would be an even clearer breach to curtail unionist participation in the full political life of the United Kingdom.”

On the other hand, ever since partition, Irish people in Northern Ireland – ‘the minority’ – have been denied their right to national freedom as part of the sovereign Irish nation.
The British government never was and cannot be an impartial administrator.

Moreover, the Belfast/GFA is worthless in that parties to an agreement must be free agents. There must be no ‘external impediment’, ie no British rule, direct or otherwise.

Irish people in Northern Ireland need to forget about a united Ireland. Instead, they need to assert their right to national freedom.
Better 50 years late than never. Self-determination for slow learners, so to speak.

Belfast BT15


Expression of thanks

Tools for Solidarity held a street collection in Belfast City Centre on Friday August 17, raising £156.62. We would like to thank those who gave so generously and volunteers who gave their time.

Tools for Solidarity 

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