"THERE are two things on the minds of Jews at the moment," said the Director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) on BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day recently (March 1), "the horrific attacks on farmers and partygoers on October 7 and the explosion of anti-Semitism in the UK ever since ... causing us to talk again about keeping a suitcase packed for a quick escape".

SCoJeC does good work in the practical support it offers to Jewish communities and individuals throughout Scotland. But the views expressed by its director do not represent our views. As Scottish members of the UK grassroots movement Liberal Jews for Justice in Israel Palestine we wish to highlight that in fact our minds are filled with horror regarding Israel’s inhumane, relentless and utterly disproportionate attacks on the people and the infrastructure of Gaza, resulting in the extreme humanitarian crisis that is occurring there. We know that many Jews in the UK, including Scotland, share these feelings and wish to challenge the mainstream portrayal reinforced by SCoJeC’s director, presenting all Jews as having a uniform outlook on world events.

We’re encouraged that last month 39 rabbis and cantors from the two Progressive Jewish denominations (Liberal and Reform) demanded an end to the bloodshed in Gaza, saying whole families and communities have seen their homes, schools, mosques and hospitals destroyed. More than one million exhausted, hungry and sick Palestinians, who have sought safety in Rafah, are now no longer safe there. Signatories included the rabbis of Scotland’s two Progressive Jewish communities.

Focusing on "anti-Semitism" at a time like this is a dangerous and disingenuous distraction being stoked by the Westminster Government and its official opposition. While we would never deny that real instances of anti-Semitism should be taken seriously, when public figures, and even Jews themselves, are accused of anti-Semitism when speaking out against Israeli Government policies we must question the motives behind those accusations. We applaud the Scottish Government which does not employ such tactics and which in November voted by a huge majority in favour of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas.

Jews who stand in support of Palestine, and Jews who are currently challenging their government in Israel, intend our voices to be carried far and wide. There is no need for us to have a suitcase packed for a quick escape if we all work together for a just peace and an immediate ceasefire.

Ash Alexander, Lisa Barcan, Sue Bard, Ellen Galfordt, Rebekah Gronowski, Mor Kandlik Eltanani, Talitha Kearey, Samara Leibner, Gica Loening, Maurice Naftalin, Daniel Power, Kerstin Stutterheim, Miriam Vickers, Phil Wadler: all Scottish members of Liberal Jews for a Just Peace in Israel, Edinburgh.

READ MORE: There's no way Scotland would ever be allowed to leave Nato

READ MORE: Air-drops for Gaza are very difficult and will achieve little

READ MORE: Our politicians must stop the posturing and get real on Gaza

Nato is all about the USA

IRELAND isn’t a member of Nato and has no nuclear weapons; I don’t recall Russia invading Ireland although I believe we did. The United States has been involved in overseas wars almost continuously since it was created, Russia hasn’t. The US has 750 overseas military bases in 80 foreign countries; Russia has 21 in former parts of the USSR.

In the Second World War 26 million Russian lives were sacrificed in defeating Hitler and liberating the greater part of Europe from Nazi occupation, the USA lost 418,000 and the UK 450,000 during the same war, yet America apparently won the war. Russia later agreed to return to its traditional borders providing Nato did not move further east; the West broke that promise and Russia now has Nato (American) nuclear weapons stationed on its borders both east and west.

We really should stop referring to it as Nato and tell it as it is; it’s the American military industrial complex with a different hat on. The reality, as has recently been acknowledged by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others, is that the vast majority of the tens of billions of US taxpayers' dollars that the Biden administration has in theory pumped into Israel and the Ukraine never left the USA but went straight into the coffers of the US armaments companies to supply weapons to be used overseas. Likewise, much of the 2% of GDP that Nato member states are supposed to spend on "defence" goes straight into the same corporate pockets. Kill people overseas and make money at home in complete safety, a great business plan.

How many times do we have to be reminded that President Dwight Eisenhower, who knew a bit about war and politics, warned us that this was going to happen?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

Labour will not help Scotland

PETER A Russell (Letters, March 5) writes as an unrepentant (surely not unaware) apologist for what he hopes to be an incoming Westminster Labour government which is already committed to a continuation of disastrous, 30-year-old Westminster policies. Labour, Tory or LibDem, there is little or no difference on the economy, energy, health service and, crucially and shamefully at this minute, foreign policy.

Mr Russell's idea that the UK still has a successful “mixed economy” ignores the well-documented 40-year decline in manufacturing industries so that, according to most analyses, they are now less than one-tenth of the UK GDP. Brexit, now accepted and supported by all the Westminster parties, has been particularly destructive to Scotland’s food industries. After Margaret Thatcher gave free rein to the City of London, unbridled corruption, further accommodated by subsequent Labour administrations, has disposed of oil revenues one way or another to offshore accounts, scandals and bank crashes. Consequently, in 2024, the humiliating, grotesque outcome of Scotland’s oil reserves is food banks, and growing international concern about poverty and malnutrition throughout the UK.

At a time when the biggest local authority in Europe, Birmingham, has acknowledged bankruptcy and published vast cuts to public services, Mr Russell would do well to study the effects of Westminster’s 30-year commitment to the Private Finance Initiative, promoted most enthusiastically and ruthlessly by the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who changed the law to allow local authorities to become involved. In 2024 there is now a long list of disastrous outcomes for hospitals, schools, roads and other local authorities while the Westminster legacy of greedy city slickers continues to export more ill-gotten gains to offshore accounts. Yes indeed, under Westminster continuity the “hard grind” (as Mr Russell puts it) for ordinary people, and international disgrace for everyone, will not change.

And that’s the point. All those Westminster parties require numb acquiescence from an electorate that accepts the old Thatcher maxim of “TINA” (there is no alternative) and troops to polling stations this year as dutiful voting fodder so that the disgraceful, corrupt and destructive Westminster mess is endorsed for another five years.

I am no supporter of George Galloway, but I hope that Rochdale voters have inspired other English constituencies to reject that rotten Westminster political cabal simply in the name of democracy.

As for Scotland, I am sorry, Mr Russell, my analogy may sound ghastly but, having lived through so much environmental, economic, political and social abuse of this nation by Westminster misgovernment, it is how I truly feel: the Labour Party in Scotland is like a Judas sheep, sent north to lead us back under the hammer.

Frances McKie, Evanton.

The Herald: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last week announced a cut in National Insurance ContributionsChancellor Jeremy Hunt last week announced a cut in National Insurance Contributions (Image: PA)

Welfare state is changing

ALLAN Sutherland (Letters, March 8) writes: "I can't remember a time when it was made so clear to the populace by all parties and media, including the SNP, that if you want better services and benefits, you need to pay more tax; if you want lower taxes you need to accept fewer service and benefits". What he might have added is that while lower taxation will lead to fewer services, the provision of these services will in fact be provided by a private sector which will charge through an insurance system with premiums set at varying levels in accordance with ability to pay. There goes the reduction in taxation in one fell swoop.

What the populace need to get into their heads is that this process is happening and taxpayers will have to accept that nothing is going to stop it. I want governments to stop using smoke and mirrors to fool many of the people all of the time, such as getting 2p off National Insurance Contributions, a benefit that will give a few hundred pounds more each year. Treat the populace as grown-ups and spell it out in clear and harsh terms that the savings in NI will eventually be paid to and probably demanded by the private sector providers who will replace the services currently given by the state.

Change is coming. Get used to it and realise that it is only a matter of time before our welfare state is changed.

Ian W Gray, Croftamie.