I WRITE to commend Joanna Blythman’s article ("Palestine is having a George Floyd moment – and we have to pick a side", The Herald, May 22).

In it she captures not only the death, destruction and trauma in this unequal war but the permanent plight for Palestinians under settler colonialism and also the difficulty in keeping the public aware of this situation for fear of being branded anti-Semitic. Indeed Israel has the right to defend herself, but so also do the Palestinians. Violence may be deplored but even Nelson Mandela refused to deny the right of violence as part of resistance. The sad fact is that the world only takes notice when violence flares up. The first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in the 1990s was largely peaceful, brutally put down by the Israelis and little attention was paid. More recently the Great March of Return in Gaza 2018-19 was peaceful, responded to by the Israelis with live ammunition causing many deaths and casualties – again largely ignored.

I too have witnessed the repression, the separation wall dividing families and communities, the caged check points, the land theft, olive trees demolished, house demolitions and so on. One cannot forget sitting with Bedouin villagers who have just had their homes destroyed, equipment confiscated and school door blown apart yet they still bring a glass of mint tea when their water supply has been removed.

Human Rights Watch has declared the Israeli regime an apartheid state. The international community in its varied forms must insist that international law is adhered to and support the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. As Desmond Tutu has said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Kate Aspinwall, Stevenston.

* CONGRATULATIONS to Joanna Blythman for her excellent description of the reality of Palestine since 1948. Congratulations also to The Herald for publishing her column. Too often attempts to make such points never reach the pages of our newspapers, for fear of the immediate and quite untruthful accusations of anti-Semitism, deployed so successfully against Jeremy Corbyn.

Those of us driven to despair by the unbelievable treatment meted out daily and with impunity to the Palestinian populations by the State of Israel, funded by the United States, have, with all civilised and humane people, condemned utterly the historic persecution and murder of Jewish populations and condemn any such assault or intention with regard to present-day Jews.

Ronald MacLean, Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire.


IN recent days the BBC has been heavily criticised over its interview with Princess Diana and the wrongs that Martin Bashir did to get that interview. That criticism is fully deserved. However, I will say that I watched a documentary called Arena: African Apocalypse on BBC 2 on Saturday night (May 22) about the slaughter of innocent people in Niger in 1899 by Captain Violet on behalf of European imperialism, killing thousands of women, children and men. A 97-year-old lady in the 1970s recounted by audio tape how the French tortured the people of Niger and massacred them.

We the British did the same in Sudan and the Belgians did even worse in the so-called Belgian Congo reducing their population by 10 million.

This was the BBC at its best, making a great documentary. It has to be praised for its exposé of European colonialism and making me realise for the first time that we owe financial reparations to the people of Africa for what we did to them.

I now realise what a valuable service the BBC gives to us in the UK and although I am a Scottish nationalist and I have protested at Pacific Quay I will not kick it while it is down at this time because it produces a lot of high-standard programmes which I believe need to be acknowledged by those of us who know that it is a cornerstone of our democratic way of life.

Sean Clerkin, Barrhead.


I NOTE Kevin McKenna's article in which he talks of Professor Richard Dawkins' view of people with Down's Syndrome ("Down’s folk deserve better than Dawkins’ ignorance", The Herald, May 22). This reminded me that last year there had been a similar article in The Herald about Down's and the screening programme during pregnancy to identify babies who may have the condition when termination of the pregnancy can be considered. At that time a young lady living with the condition, Heidi Crowter, was campaigning for the UK Government to change the law to reduce the number of terminations allowed after 24 weeks for non-fatal disabilities. She had said: "We are all equally valuable and should all be equally valued" .

During my working life in social work I met many people who were living with Down's who were loved and loving and able to make a positive contribution to our common life. They often displayed musical or other artistic talents, and with appropriate support were often able to work in suitable or sheltered employment. I am glad that Mr McKenna has been able to bring this issue before us.

Ron Lavalette, Ardrossan.


I’M getting increasingly annoyed with use of the phrase “times less”. In today’s edition about vaccinators pay you describe nurses as getting four times less ("Union rules out court action over ‘unfair’ rate of pay for jab nurses", The Herald, May 22). You can either have four times more or a quarter of, but four times less does not make sense.

It is not only The Herald that is using that expression, it is also used by television journalists. Or perhaps I’m just becoming a grumpy old man.

David Brown, Cambuslang.