Interesting that as part of Holocaust Memorial Day we have a letter from Joshua Curiel that refers exclusively to Jews and Israel, simultaneously Jeremy Corbyn is pressured to privilege one group of victims of Nazi crimes against humanity, against all others.
In previous postwar years this type of thing would have been treated with disdain, given that the defining work on Nazi crimes was Pastor Niemöller’s poem “First They Came For The Socialists”, which referred to the conveyor belt of groups that were persecuted one after the other.
To the various Niemoller lists we can add the slightly fewer than 2 million Poles that died at Nazi hands, and more than 3 million Soviets that died in Nazi camps. Largely forgotten are a generation of black mixed-race Germans known as the “Rhineland Bastards” – referred to as “half-apes” in Mein Kampf – who were persecuted along with gay men and disabled people. Even if you managed to escape prior to the death camps, you’d probably had to live out the rest of your life castrated, due to the early Nazi eugenics programmes.
Attempts at hierarchies of Holocaust victimhood work against the interests of our multicultural society and demonstrate how failing our systems are of representation.
Dr Gavin Lewis
This weekend our nation remembered the suffering of the Jewish people during the second European war. On BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, the Chief Rabbi mentioned Rwanda, and in BBC broadcast church services, mention was made of Cambodia and the recent suffering of the Rohingya people of Myanmar.
The fine and noble words uttered by all during this national Jewish memorial is rendered empty if authorised speakers lack the courage to call the world’s attention to the 40-year-long continuous example of discrimination, occupation and injustice which is metered out daily to the Palestinian people.
If honouring those who have suffered injustice is to be meaningful and powerful today, then the world’s great publications, broadcasters, churches and speakers must be brave enough to remember that many of the descendants of those who suffered the horrors of the concentration camps during the war are today inflicting injustice, discrimination and military occupation on the innocent Palestinian youth.
It would be more cost-effective to treat immigrants with decency
I must say that I am frankly appalled at the reports of indefinite detention of alleged illegal immigrants, coupled with the huge amount of money we are spending in compensation.
The £21.2m of taxpayer money we have wasted over five years could be, ironically enough, used to deal with said immigrants in a more compassionate and fair-minded way.
Even if you were passionate about “locking them all up”, you could at least improve conditions with these funds.
Also, what genius at the Home Office came up with such a nonsense statement, given the span of time involved: “The fact that a court may subsequently rule that an individual has been unlawfully detained does not necessarily mean the original decision was taken in bad faith.”
Here then is a quote they should think about: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and thinking the outcome will be different.”
A trade deal is not what you may think it is
It seems that there is an enormous confusion in the ranks of the Brexiteers as to what a trade deal actually is. These dreamers seem to equate an international trade deal with a deal to export products, such as warplanes and bombs to Saudi Arabia.
This really is naivety of the first order. Britain has no trade deal with Saudi Arabia (though some other EU countries have some trade-related arrangements, according to the Saudi foreign ministry). This has not hampered British arms suppliers selling weapons there on a gargantuan scale.
In contrast, an inter-governmental trade deal is an agreement on tariffs and the harmonisation of regulations so that products may be easily transferred and sold. It is not an agreement to actually sell anything at all. It will only translate into actual exports if British companies manage to produce goods that comply with these harmonised regulations, and at an attractive price.
And if the “harmonised” regulations stem from dozens of different countries with diverse views on what is a hazardous ingredient, what is appropriate electrical safety, what margin of safety to use for mechanical equipment, what are acceptable spurious radio-frequency emissions, and so on, it is rather clear that British manufactures will have a hard time being compliant with everything.
It is not for nothing that it takes years to negotiate even a single trade agreement, so let’s try to clarify nomenclature between “trade deals” and “export deals”.
We must bear in mind the nuances of the Brexit vote
The ICM survey makes interesting reading. Voters aged 75 and over were heavily in favour of Brexit, that is, 69 per cent of the poll. Whereas the youngest voters, aged 18-24, were heavily against Brexit, that is, 73 per cent of the poll.
So these elderly persons are trying to dictate the future of their country when in all likelihood they will not be around to suffer any ill consequences or detriments of Brexit. I suspect it is the nostalgia of Empire and Britannia Ruling the Waves which has spurred these elderly persons to favour Brexit.
And one should remember that many of the elderly, with time on their hands, participated in the people’s referendum of 2016, whereas many youngsters were either not registered to vote or too occupied to take part in the referendum. This is another good reason to be suspicious of the referendum result.
We are fortunate that the House of Lords, as an integral part of our Parliament, is in a good position to take an independent and long-term view of the Brexit and Remain arguments.
In the run-up to the 2016 referendum, voters were assured that leaving the EU would be all gain and no pain: it would return our freedom, block immigrants, boost our international trade and free up vast sums to be spent on the NHS.
Those who could recall the days of the British empire plus Tory backwoodsmen and tabloid readers in the provinces thought this was great idea and voted to leave. The young, the educated, the urbanites and the Celts didn’t buy it.
As the House of Lords considers the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, it must decide if it should demand that the Government allow the people to vote again when they realise Brexit is a shambles and that their EU subsidies and dependent jobs will vanish.
The 2016 referendum wasn’t definitive. Government is divided on what to do and these divisions reflect those of the country. The fact is, if people in a democracy are not to be allowed to change their minds, it’s not a democracy.
Rev Dr John Cameron
Being vegan isn’t automatically good for the environment
There seems to be some confusion between being vegan and being a person who doesn’t bother weighing nutrition, carbon footprint, packaging, human rights, farming methods, and so on, while making decisions about food.
Some people really don’t think of any of these things while shopping; some manage to regularly meet all their ethical standards; and a lot of us do the best we can in our particular circumstances. These decisions are made by everyone, vegan or otherwise.
I’ve been navigating these issues since going vegetarian in 1985 and vegan in 1996, and I do better at some points than others. Going vegan does make you look at labels, and often encourages people to carefully examine the issues surrounding food production, so it’s no surprise that those who’ve recently changed their diet become hyper-aware of their choices.
Vegan or not, it’s important to commit to improving our decisions around consumption over the long term whenever it’s within our power to do so.
There’s more to solving homelessness than just finding somewhere for people to sleep
Jeremy Corbyn is right to advocate the buying of 8,000 homes to accommodate rough sleepers in his bid to solve homelessness.
Nevertheless, the issue is more broad and complex than this. It involves the inexorable interplay of factors ranging from poor mental and physical health, family breakdown to alcoholism, drug addiction, crime, unemployment, sexual abuse and molestation, domestic violence, tent arrears, debts, mortgage and most importantly, the recent Government’s austere measures to curtail housing benefits.
People live under the brunt of health and social burdens unable to reap the fruits of economic growth. Any future government must work relentlessly to put people’s welfare, sustenance and health at the heart of its agenda.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
Donald Trump’s tweets need more than a grammar edit
I read an interesting article about a copy editor who corrects the grammar in President Trump’s tweets and then she tweets them back to him. A fun task but a far more challenging job would be to fix the content and the logic so that they were informative and productive.