MY dad has just turned 85, having been born less than a year before the start of the Second World War.

As we celebrated his birthday the news broke about the massacres in Israel. He lamented that for the entirety of his life this country has been involved in some degree of warfare, either overtly or covertly, yet we seem even further from global peace than we ever were.

Our recent escapades in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya have cost innumerable lives, billions in precious financial reserves and left chaos and suffering in their wake.

I don’t know how many benefit significantly from the spoils of war but the number will be minute. The vast majority of us pay the price for it in one way or another.

In Gaza, Hamas uses civilian sites for its bases and weapons storage knowing they will be a target. Israel knows this but bombs the sites anyway. As ever before, the ordinary people suffer for the sins of the mighty.

If this Forever War is to end how do we do it? Is the West the Godless Aggressor trampling on the heads of others or are we simply defending our legitimate interests against religious and political tyranny? It is telling that many of us in the West do not necessarily see “the other team” as the bad guys.

Sadly, the harsh reality is that the spectre of war is here to stay because as a species our leaders and the moneyed interests behind them seem incapable of resolving disagreements without it.

I have never marched for a cause but if this or a future government tries to embroil us in more conflicts that do not involve a direct physical threat to this land then I will be on the streets protesting.

The thought of my precious youngsters being misled into another vain overseas war and being slaughtered like past generations is too much to bear and I believe wholeheartedly that young people should simply refuse to be conscripted should such a scenario arise.

Each of us has to do something to try to stop this insanity. Sadly we are not organised enough to speak with one clear voice.

Fraser Kelly, Glasgow.

Compassion must not be silenced

AS the war in Israel and Gaza continues relentlessly on its deathly way I am reminded of Mark McGeoghegan’s recent article “We must not let the Israel Hamas war be the death of compassion and nuance” (The Herald, October 16) in which he so correctly asserts that many are discussing the conflict “with compassion and empathy. Rightly condemning Hamas’s terrorist atrocities as what they are, rightly endorsing Israel’s right to defend itself, rightly calling for the protection of civilians, and rightly urging against collective punishment.”

There is however another element to this story to be found in an article by Julian Borger, the Guardian's world affairs editor, in which it is maintained that across Israel ”there is a wave of silencing of any type of, not only criticism, but also just compassion” with people “being detained, fired from their jobs, and even attacked” with “the definition of pro-Hamas being often widened to include expressions of sympathy for the plight of Palestinian children trapped in Gaza, or calls for peace”.

I continue to maintain that, in spite of all the forces that face us, the only appropriate answer is a relentless pursuit of compassion and certainly not its suppression by both Hamas and the most extreme right-wing government Israel has ever seen.

Surely that answer involves the worldwide faith communities, including those in Scotland, coming together in pursuit of their humanity, always bearing in mind that prayer is inadequate if not backed up by meaningful action.

John Milne, Uddingston.

Read more: The rage is understandable, but it cannot dictate government policy

• GENERAL William Tecumseh Sherman said it all: "I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

While religion has the power to inspire adherents to do good, history is replete with examples of religion-inspired violence. Where was morality in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Thirty Year War and the Indo-Pak partition? Was morality hiding in Ahmedabad and Godhra in 2003 and in New York in September 2011? And what holds back the moral sense amidst the ongoing Middle East violence or made it look the other way during the pogrom in Bosnia, the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and the horrors of the Holocaust? What does the world-wide exposés of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests say about the efficacy of religion to inspire moral good?

It would seem religion has a lot of explaining to do. Where, oh where, can an atheist go in this world of ours to find peace?

Doug Clark, Currie.

Two states not the answer

JIM Sillars (Letters, October 23) says that Israel is not fighting for its survival. It most certainly is. The Hamas Charter demands the extinction of Israel so that it can claim the Jews’ ancient homeland for Islam. Support for the October 7 invasion is widespread throughout the Islamic world including among Muslims in this country.

The Middle East and North Africa region is home to 315 million Muslims. Iran supports Hamas ideologically and financially and aspires to possess a nuclear bomb. Israel left Gaza in 2005. There has not been an election there since 2005 and none in the Palestinian authority since 2006. The madrases of the Palestinian Authority groom tomorrow’s jihads.

A two-state solution will not guarantee Israel’s security. The issue is the truth and falsehood of religious claims and no-one wants to address them.

Rev Dr Robert Anderson, Dundonald.

A disgusting situation

EVERY decent person prays for aid to reach Palestinian civilians traumatised in Gaza.

However, there is something uniquely disgusting about dripping the tiniest amount of not-enough aid into an enclosed enclave while continuing to bomb civilians who have nowhere to go.

It's like human grouse shooting.

Amanda Baker, Edinburgh.

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Act on these hate crimes

WHEN is a hate crime not a hate crime according to police chiefs? When a female Palestinian supporter in London ripped down posters of kidnapped Israeli citizens who are being held hostage by Hamas. When Hamas supporters chanted "Jihad" and "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" on the streets of London.

If the police chiefs are not willing to act then the Government should sack them without compensation and appoint someone who will. Those convicted of hate crimes who have student, work or visit visas should immediately be deported and UK nationals jailed.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Read more: Negotiation is the only way to end the agony for Israel and Palestine

Double standards on the young

I FEEL sorry for judges in Scotland. The Scottish Sentencing Council guidelines state that a criminal below the age of 25 should only be imprisoned as a last resort and, if they are jailed, their sentence should be shorter than had they been 25 or over.

On Friday last week, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain told an appeal court that the sentencing judge placed too much emphasis on the age a triple rapist was when he committed the crimes ("Appeal judges asked to give multiple rapist longer jail term", The Herald, October 21). He was initially sentenced to eight years on the basis of the guidelines set out. Lord Advocate Bain told the appeal court judges that “the age of the accused at the time shouldn’t have applied”.

Lady Dorrian is one of the court judges dealing with this appeal. In January 2022 when these guidelines were introduced she said “the guideline will help to increase public understanding and awareness of why this is a different exercise to the sentencing of a fully mature adult, with rehabilitation as primary consideration".

This guideline is considered by many to be ridiculous as we are told that young people in Scotland are mature enough to vote, become politicians, change their gender and so much more. Yet we are meant to believe when they commit a crime that they should be treated differently as “a young person generally has a lower level of maturity and a greater capacity for change and rehabilitation”. Young people are also able to tell the difference between right and wrong. How are judges meant to sentence young people when they are now being told that some shouldn’t be treated as less mature or less likely to rehabilitate? You can’t have it both ways.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.