Letters to the Editor

Issue 

Bethlehem connection

Your article "Marrickville and Bethlehem twinned" (GLW #723) made two inaccurate statements which it is important to correct. It claimed that the visas of the Bethlehem delegation were delayed "due to complaints" made by me. It also claimed that I opposed the Marrickville-Bethlehem relationship because I believed the mayor of Bethlehem to be anti-Semitic. Both statements are false.

First, there is no substance to the claim that the Bethlehem delegation was delayed due to complaints made by me. I made no approach to the Department of Immigration, which is responsible for issuing visas. The only authority I approached was Marrickville Council.

Second, I have never stated that I believe the mayor of Bethlehem to be anti-Semitic. Our concern with the Marrickville-Bethlehem connection was based on the fact that Bethlehem Council has a dominant Hamas presence, and Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel.

We felt that if Marrickville Council was genuinely interested in promoting peace and goodwill, why not rather select a joint Palestinian-Israeli humanitarian project to support? There are many.

Vic Alhadeff

CEO, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies

Thanks

Thank you for printing John Pilger's article on Venezuela in GLW #723. His was one of the few names of any Australians I knew when I came here in 1983. He is internationally known and remains true to the real meaning of journalism, but hardly printed in this country.

A big thanks also to Craig Bulley at Radio Skidrow (88.9FM in Sydney) who managed to have John Pilger's address to the Socialism 2007 conference in Chicago on air three times, in the Democracy Now timeslot, 9-10am weekdays. A fabulous and inspiring talk.

With Kevin Rudd showing himself in his true right-wing colours, after professing to admire the German cleric who plotted with others to kill Hitler, I thought he might benefit from this:

"Are we still of any use? We have been silent witnesses of evil deeds; we have been drenched by many storms; we have learnt the arts of equivocation and pretence; experience has made us suspicious of others and kept us from being truthful and open; intolerable conflicts have worn us down and even made us cynical. Are we still of any use? What we shall need is not geniuses, or cynics, or misanthropes, or clever tacticians, but plain, honest, straightforward men. Will our inward power of resistance be strong enough, and our honesty with ourselves remorseless enough, for us to find our way back to simplicity and straightforwardness?"

That was from Letters and Papers from Prison, the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I believe Rudd's essay on Bonhoeffer in the Monthly was mainly for show. But the Bonhoeffer quote above is a great one, and ALP members with some integrity could benefit from it.

I think we should really support the media that are trying to tell the truth, with simplicity and straightforwardness. I could mention the great writer-activists at GLW, but there are too many. Well done. I enclose a donation.

Stephen Langford

Paddington

APEC

There is a famous Latin phrase attributed to Julius Caesar in 47 BC: Veni, Vidi, Vici (which translates as "I came, I saw, I conquered"). The most appropriate description for George Bush's attendance at APEC 2007 would surely be "I came, I saw, I conked."

Conked as in stalled and failed to make an impression before skipping town in the middle of the conference.

Granted, he thought it was "the OPEC summit", praised his groveling little mate John Howard, reassured us that the US was "kicking ass" in Iraq, warned against the dreaded Islamic extremist "Jima Islamia" group, and managed to ride his bike at St. Ives without falling off.

But did we really spend millions of dollars to be entertained by this caged clown?

Keith Mobbs

Lane Cove, NSW

Murray-Darling

For years I have been saying that, figuratively speaking, the citizens of Adelaide are going to march up the Murray-Darling river system and blow up every dam. And on the way back they are going to smash every irrigation pump.

Well that maybe a bit severe but whether the present over-allocation is due to corruption or to a naive belief that there will always be plenty of water we are being given a graphic example of the fact that we must live within our means.

It is essential that when it rains, and it will rain, that the first flows are allowed to run through to Lake Alexandria and carry away the accumulated salt.

If we dam it, and there will be great pressure to do so, we will be engaging in the same stupidity that brought about the present predicament. It is also essential that we get the major users of water out of the system by buying back their allocations and ensuring that that water is never allocated again.

Col Friel

Alawa, NT

Veganism

Ben Courtice (Write On, GLW #722) argues for what he calls balanced, sustainable agriculture including livestock in response to my article promoting veganism on environmental grounds.

I believe that arguing for a vegan diet certainly does not miss the point of the vast problems of modern agribusiness. One way to avoid these problems is through supporting organic farming — and yes, there are plenty of organic plant-based foods.

I am fully aware of the benefits of a small amount of livestock in alternative agriculture, which can avoid or limit machinery such as tractors, which are economically and environmentally costly. A vegan world would not mean an elimination of all livestock, it would just mean that there is not continual breeding, over-feeding and killing of livestock. Livestock can play a role in sustainable, plant-based agriculture.

Yet as soon as animal foods become a part of people's diets, the problems begin — with a massive increase in the number of livestock around and also an increase in what they are fed. Currently cows are the largest marine predator, with over half of the fish taken from the sea being fed to domestic livestock. So for anyone concerned with the disappearing of fish and marine ecosystems, it is best not to support this by avoiding the consumption of livestock.

The protein myth surrounding meat and other animal products is just that — a myth. Not only do soybeans have more protein than meat, but for anyone who can't digest soy, some of the other foods that actually contain more protein than beef are: pinto beans, lentils, broad beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach. Protein isn't a problem on a plant-based diet, no matter what your requirements are.

Of course "less meat but better quality" would be an improvement. However, a vegan diet walks most lightly on the earth. Just do a test on your ecological or carbon footprint and you'll find that the less animal products you consume, the lighter your footprint. So reducing is good, and eliminating is better.

Nick Pendergrast

Perth, WA

Amnesia Della Bosca

In announcing the closure of Maquarie Boys High, NSW education minister John Della Bosca signals that he intends to continue in the footsteps of his predecessors Andrew Refshaugie and Carmel Tebbutt who ruthlessly gutted public education in what seems a bold sortie to boost private school enrolments.

So much for NSW Labor government's election promise of ending cuts and providing new trades schools. Does it surprise you how quickly amnesia can take hold once a government gets re-elected?

Tony Backhouse

Dee Why, NSW