I WRITE as a long-term critic of the Israeli state’s treatment of the Palestinians, but welcomed Kevin McKenna’s recent balanced commentary on Gaza ("No decent society can tolerate this", The Herald February 20), and its assertion of the right of our fellow Jewish citizens to the same personal and community security as the rest of us.

“Antisemitism” is euphemism for hatred of Jews. Only once in my life, as an adult, have I cried reading a book: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It recorded a German civilian’s affidavit of the execution of 5,000 Jews in Ukraine. In presenting it to the Nuremberg Tribunal, the prosecutor made no pre- or post-reading statement, just read it out. It produced stunned silence, followed by the sound of grown men and women weeping.

What produced that reaction, and mine, was that the Holocaust ceased to be a number, but was revealed as the destruction of ordinary human beings, whom we could all identify with, stripped of dignity, helpless in their anguish, because they had become objects, individually, of Jew hate.

I hope if they read this from the affidavit those who have sown fear among our Jewish brethren will see where their logic ultimately ends, and desist: “Without screaming or weeping these people undressed, stood around in family groups, kissed each other, said farewell and waited for the sign from another SS man who stood near the pit, whip in hand. During the fifteen minutes that I stood near the pit I heard no complaint or plea for mercy… An old woman with snow white hair was holding a one-year of child in her arms and singing to it and tickling it. The child was cooing with delight. The parents were looking on with tears in their eyes. The father was holding the hand of a boy about 10 years old and speaking to him softly; the boy was fighting his tears. The father pointed to the sky, stroked his head and seemed to explain something to him. At that moment the SS man at the pit shouted something to his comrade. The latter counted off about twenty persons, and instructed them to go behind the earth mound... I well remember a girl, slim and with black hair, who, as she passed close to me, pointed to herself and said ‘twenty-three years old.’ I looked for the man who did the shooting. He was an SS man who sat at the edge of a narrow end of the pit, his feet dangling in the pit. He had a tommy-gun on his knee and was smoking a cigarette.”

We in Scotland cannot solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Only they can. But here in Scotland we can act on our own problem. We can stop the poisonous flow of Jew hatred seeping into our society. We can, with the rigorous use of law, and in our own personal conduct and speech, protect, defend and assert the right of those who are Jews to be respected, and safe.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.

• IN the Bible at Romans 12:17 we read "Recompense to no man evil for evil" and at 1 Peter 3:9 we read "Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing". Many people following the barbaric actions of Hamas on October 7 2023, would probably agree that Israel has a right to defend its people and therefore to respond with some force and consequently returning evil with evil to some extent. How far can they be viewed as being justified in so acting?

Prince William has decided to issue a statement on the conflict between Israel and Hamas ("William makes plea for peace in Middle East", The Herald, February 21). In that statement he declared that "too many have been killed" . This raises the question: at what point did the "many" become "too many" if one takes the position that an Israeli response involving killing and destruction for a time could be justified?

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Read more: Ancient evil of anti-Semitism is contaminating modern Britain

A lesson for Scots Labour

LABOUR’S unprincipled opposition to the SNP motion on Gaza, seems to be based on the SNP’s choice of the globally-used phrase "collective punishment" to describe Israel’s actions, but this wording was used in the ceasefire motion passed at the recent Scottish Labour Party conference. This puts an end to claims that Labour MPs from Scotland can influence events at Westminster.

Last week’s chaos at Westminster was mainly down to Keir Starmer’s actions and the Speaker’s “mistake” despite being warned beforehand by officials that he was breaking the normal rules. There was no precedent for turning the SNP’s Opposition Day into an additional Labour Opposition Day and Labour had numerous opportunities over the past four months to bring forward a ceasefire motion but failed to do so.

Hours away from the biggest rebellion of his leadership, Keir Starmer decided to intervene personally and visited Lindsay Hoyle and “urged” him to get Labour off the hook. If all shades of opinion were to be debated, why was the Lib amendment not accepted?

The SNP motion also demanded the immediate release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas while the Labour amendment included “statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and not in the gift of any neighbour”. Something Labour in Scotland might reflect on.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Commons must learn lesson

THERE were three proposals before the House of Commons last week. The SNP proposed an unconditional unilateral ceasefire by Israel. Labour countered with an amendment that defined the Gaza War in the context of the October 7 and the development of the two-state settlement, and proposed a complete humanitarian ceasefire; and the Tories added their own amendment that proposed a humanitarian pause. It is hard to see any reason why the merits and otherwise of all three of these should not have been debated and voted on by MPs. This was the aim of the Speaker.

However, two things prevented that happening. The first was the arcane rules of the House, which are based on precedents established when Opposition Days were confined to a single Loyal Opposition. It is quite beyond belief to anyone who has ever taken part in (or chaired) a formal debate that a motion and two amendments cannot be accommodated in good order. The second is the games played for political ends by the respective parties. The SNP set a trap for Labour, who in turn set their own trap for the SNP, only for the Tories to use the arcane procedure referred to above as a device for their own benefit, and who then collapsed the debate entirely.

What is most regrettable is the way in which the chaotic conclusion has overshadowed what had been a well-argued and sincere debate on the most serious of subjects. The solution must be the updating of procedures to protect the House and the Speaker so that the parties can never again manipulate them is this way. It is really not that difficult.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

Read more: Hoyle was not the real villain. SNP should accept apology

Royals should stay silent

I WAS heartened to see a response (Letters, February 24) to the recent public plea for peace in the Middle East made by the Prince of Wales. However, I was disappointed because the writer only challenged the royal opinion and not whether he should have expressed the opinion at all.

If the royal family want to be seen as caring individuals then perhaps their views should firstly reflect their knowledge of their loyal, and otherwise, subjects. They rarely do so.

The Herald: The Prince of WalesThe Prince of Wales (Image: The Prince of Wales)

It would be refreshing to hear our future King occasionally reflect his concern about the ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots, the lack of access to a reasonable level of care from the NHS, the plight of working parents who cannot afford child care, some of whom also have to rely on food banks, the fact that owning a house is now outwith most ordinary people's grasp, and those families who choose between eating and heating. I could go on. Who knows, the Government might take heed.

If there are those who say that the Prince of Wales has served in the Forces and has had the life experience which gives him the right to give an opinion then I can cite the memory of his Uncle Andrew who exhibited a breathtaking naivety when he was given the opportunity to express his thoughts, despite his Falklands service.

The role of the royal family has never been clearly defined but since it is not known really what their attitudes and private thoughts and opinions are or what they are based on, then it would be wise for them to follow our late Queen's attitude and say nowt.

Tina Oakes, Stonehaven.