Hamas has no regard for lifeOctober 26, 2023
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Palestinians and the rest of the world must not forget Hamas’ chilling order for Palestinians to stay where they are, after Israel’s advance warning to the civilian population to move south. It is well known that Hamas uses civilians as human shields and locates its command bases in churches, hospitals and schools. This proves the organisation’s lack of respect for all human life.
Betty Alexander, Caulfield
Half a century of occupation
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has had the courage to tell it as it is, saying: ″It is important to also recognise the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.″
Reg Murray, Glen Iris
The young suffer the most
In the aftermath of Hamas’ horrific incursion into Israel, Josh Frydenberg likened the event to the Biblical ″massacre of the innocents″. More broadly speaking, it is disturbing that the world’s media have not framed the Gaza Strip conflict in terms of the stark and tragic youthful demographics of that area. Seventy per cent of Gazans are under the age of 30 and about half under the age of 18. Life expectancy for many Gazans is 10 years less than Israelis living a few kilometres away, against a backdrop of a 16-year blockade imposed by Israel and enforced by Egypt. We are witnessing a tragedy within a tragedy as the contested parcel of land’s youth are literally being ground down by atavistic religious traditions, tribalism and secular ideology.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
When people become ideology’s fodder
V.I. Lenin, founder of the Soviet dictatorship, refused prior to the 1917 revolution to offer any assistance to famine victims in tsarist Russia, on the grounds that the suffering of the survivors would make them angry and more susceptible to his gospel of violence – a policy sometimes described as ″the worse, the better″. By deliberately forcing Israel into defending itself, while fully aware of all the unavoidable civilian misery that this would entail, Hamas demonstrated a similar callous determination to exploit their own people as ideology fodder. Plus ça change…
Bill James, Frankston
People must be of same status
The two-state proposition will never come about until the Palestinian people are given the same status as the Jewish people. While the Palestinians are second-rate citizens in their own country there will always be a new group of young men to replace the Hamas as they feel that they have nothing to lose. I am not affiliated with either nation.
Rita Reid, Port Melbourne
Enough is enough
History has given us ample evidence that violence begets violence and brutality begets brutality. What has been done to the Palestinian people since 1948 has most recently led to the brutal attack by Hamas against Israeli citizens. While international law forbids direct attacks against civilians and the taking of hostages, it also unequivocally prohibits collective punishment, and it would be difficult to portray the siege of Gaza and the current Israeli bombing campaign as anything else. The United Nations still characterises Gaza as occupied because of Israeli control over all features of life. Israel thus has the duty to ensure the adequate provision of food and medical supplies to Gazans and to allow impartial humanitarian organisations to carry out significant relief actions.
Enough is enough – it is time to recognise historical and current injustices and bring about real peace and stability with human rights for all.
Lorel Thomas, Blackburn South
One system for all
Thank you Ross Gittins (Comment, 26/10) for reminding us the school funding saga is without end. Some schools are getting too much funding, some are very clearly getting too little. I share Gittins’ concern that the increasing tendency for “Jewish kids to go to Jewish schools, Muslims to Muslim schools, evangelical Protestants to ‘Christian schools’ and so forth,” is unlikely to be good for “national tolerance and social cohesion”.
Education can be a social divider or an opportunity to develop a more egalitarian society. Has anyone considered that Australia should have a truly secular education system? No more Catholic/Methodist/Anglican/Jewish/Islamic/Exclusive Brethren or whatever schools, just one school system for all children with government funding based on need. This would not only remove the funding conflicts; children would attend their local school, not travel kilometres to mix with others from their designated group. They might even mix with others they would not have otherwise met, and they might develop a better understanding and tolerance of those others.
And, if they wish, parents could pursue religious education for their children – in their own time, outside the school and leave the school to teach a consistent academic curriculum to all.
Jenny Macmillan, Clifton Hill
Having worked as a public school teacher for more than 30 years, I have witnessed the growing disparity in funding to both education sectors. However, along with the growing divide, are two fallacies that are portrayed as fact.
First, that the language used in most articles and correspondence on the matter, incorrectly assumes that private education is somehow ″better″ and that most parents ″aspire″ to send their kids there.
Second, the great Australian myth of egalitarianism. Our funding model is distinctly divisive and not inclusive. And while Australians may cling to this myth as an example of how we have cast off the chains of the historical class-structured society of our British origins, it is interesting that 35 per cent of Australian students attend private schools compared with only 6 per cent of their British counterparts.
Craig Jory, Albury, NSW
Dealing in absurdity
There seems to be some justification that if racist/sexist/offensive behaviour is evenly distributed, it’s OK. How absurd. In addition, Tony Abbott did parade in public in budgie smugglers so a characterisation of him as such is appropriate. I am as yet unaware of any instance where Jacinta Allan has paraded naked in public.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir
Allan needs to say sorry
Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight should not be apologetic for his cartoon. It is the job of a cartoonist to be provocative. But Jacinta Allan certainly does need to apologise for her ministerial role in the Commonwealth Games cancellation imbroglio, resulting in an eye-watering waste of Victorian taxpayers’ money.
Dennis Walker, North Melbourne
The skimpy Abbott
Tony Abbott liked being seen in skimpy swimwear (Letters, 26/10).
Heather Glassford, Williamstown
Bigger is not better
Melbourne does not need any more people.
Most major roads are already in almost permanent gridlock, schools and hospitals are overcrowded and housing is hopeless. I don’t understand why we haven’t been able to decentralise. We need another major city on the coast between Sydney and Melbourne – perhaps we could extend the ACT across to Batemans Bay and create another state? It’s just ludicrous to have Melbourne and Sydney getting bigger and bigger but not necessarily better.
Valerie Eaton, Cowper
It was a simple ask
Contrary to what Waleed Aly asserted in his recent Comment piece, the referendum questions were not endlessly nuanced and complicated questions. They were simple – do you support a voice for Indigenous people in the Constitution?
Whether included in the Constitution or not, the Voice would be legislated by parliament. Any problems or unforeseen consequences, change the legislation. Then why have it in the Constitution? For two reasons. To ensure that there would be a Voice and that it could not be dismantled by a future government and to ensure that First Nations people would have a say in how it was structured.
Peter Dutton said that he supported a Voice but said that it should not be in the Constitution and then set out how it should be structured. More of a white fella telling Indigenous people what they could have.
Peter Dwyer, Drouin
In the lead-up to the Voice referendum, I spoke with lots of people and heard many and varied reasons for a No vote. There were rumours of future land grabs affecting our children and grandchildren and rumours the UN could take control of Australia in a future pandemic. These were not necessarily believed but sowed sufficient doubt to play safe and vote No.
There was also often a clear misunderstanding of Indigenous history, and Indigenous/colonial history, and of the current dire situation for First Nations people, for example, disadvantage seen as opinion rather than fact, Indigenous people not wanting a constitutional Voice.
One thing was clear – the need to learn more about our country’s past and present.
One small but powerful way we can embark on truth-telling and reconciliation, is to establish a museum in Canberra that becomes one of the top priorities for all school children to visit. The National Museum of the American-Indian and National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile, are powerful examples of how these centres can enhance understanding.
Jenny Vaughan, Fitzroy North
Advocate for change
While visiting the Archibald 100 at Canberra’s Portrait Gallery and looking at Kerrie Lester’s painting that she entered in 1991 of Burnum Burnum, Woiworrung and Yorta Yorta activist, I was reminded that he was advocating for changes to the Constitution enabling more Senate representation from the Indigenous population back then.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine
Your correspondent trivialises the week of silence being observed by many who voted Yes in the referendum as sulking. More likely it’s a period of mourning for the loss of the best chance of improving the lives of, and giving hope to, the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who suffer terribly under the status quo.
Ian Young, Glen Waverley
In a world racked by war and climate change it is time for Australia to throw out Halloween and Guy Fawkes Bonfire Night – both imported – and institute and celebrate Wombat Day, which has just passed on October 22.
Wombat Day was originally instituted to celebrate spring planting. A group of wombats is called a ″wisdom″ – a characteristic missing today in national and world politics.
Wombats not only look after their own children but welcome other small animals to shelter in their burrows in times of danger and bushfires – as Australia should welcome others fleeing from manmade and natural disasters.
Meg Paul, Camberwell
Uses of pumpkin
Driving around our local area the decorated orange pumpkins catch my eye for Halloween. But I can’t help but wonder about the wastage of food. Families in Australia are not having three decent meals a day. Pumpkins are a versatile vegetable. Surely this wastage of wholesome food is not really justifiable in view of the needs of so many in our society and overseas?
Where are the bees?
Ducklings on the canal, our Manchurian pear tree in full bloom, spring is in the air in Elwood. But where are the bees? Our flowering pear tree is normally so full of bees that it hums. But this year, not a single bee. I hand-pollinate our tomato and passionfruit flowers.
Has anybody else noticed the absence of bees? Every third bite we take is due to food pollinated by bees – this might be serious.
Greg Tanner, Elwood
Agendas of gender
And so the gender debates continue.
On one page of The Age, Michelle Battersby says what should no longer need to be said: women shouldn’t have to choose between work and family (“Career or family? Really, we shouldn’t have to ask”, Comment, 26/10).
On the next page, Adam Voigt raises the question of unisex loos in schools, which likewise should never create a problem for anyone (“Unisex school loos aren’t the bogeyman”, 26/10).
In both cases, it helps to look at what needs to be considered “normal” these days. Our lives would be easier and less stressful if we stopped trying to over-think and over-control. Sex segregation and discrimination are just plain contrary and wasteful logistically and environmentally, as well as in facility planning and space allocation.
When workplaces make a conscious effort to provide a work-life balance that suits women, they tend to find (no surprise) that everyone is happier and more productive. It bears repeating: this should be our normal expectation.
Thank goodness for our kids who are setting the right example by accepting their unisex loos with no fuss.
AND ANOTHER THING
The first Tuesday in November could bring the rate that stops a nation.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West
It seems that the RBA and many economists accept that because we have to pay more for fuel, those with home loans should also have to pay more on their mortgage. Go figure. Perhaps Age finance columnist Ross Gittins should be required reading for all those involved.
Terry Bourke, Newtown
With talk of a rise in rates, surely people with mortgages are not splashing money around causing inflation? Another rise will cause great stress, and will achieve what?
George Stockman, Berwick
How is this for spin? Hospital waiting lists are now preparation lists. I feel better now.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South
The difference between ordinary Palestinians and Hamas: Ordinary Palestinians ask, Is there life before death? Hamas followers say, If this is life, roll on death.
John Meaney, Frankston South
B52s too controversial for White House dinner? Not much chance for the Oils and US Forces getting the nod then.
Greg Curtin, Nunawading
Funniest or maybe the saddest thing I have heard: Donald Trump comparing himself to Nelson Mandela.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East
It’s pretty clear the SECV is a subsidy provided by the Allan government to investors in renewable energy. There is no reason why taxpayers should have to hand over their taxes to private businesses.
Michael Angwin, Surrey Hills
I admired Paul Keating until I found out that he was on Anthony Pratt’s payroll.
Megan Williams, Alphington
Lunchtimes at high school seemed like 100 years of Vegemite.
Jon Smith, Leongatha
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