Letters to
the editor

Neither side has clean hands

Nothing justifies the sickening brutality of the crimes committed by Hamas. However, no side has clean hands (Jonathan Pearlman, “No clear end to Israel–Gaza ground invasion”, November 4-10). Israel has for years severely restricted the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza. The Palestinian population of Gaza lives in poverty and poor health. The current Israeli government includes the ultra-Orthodox, ultra-nationalist Religious Zionist Party that forces the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank in clear breach of international law. Many Palestinians have been forced from their land to make way for Jewish settlers. No matter how inconvenient, Israel has an obligation to minimise civilian casualties in its legitimate pursuit of Hamas. Israel cannot simply warn hospitals before an attack. It must ensure the hospitals genuinely have sufficient capacity to safely move staff and patients out of harm’s way before they attack. Surely failure to do so would be a crime against humanity.

– Graeme Vinall, Hazelwood Park, SA

Calling an invasion an invasion

It’s important that The Saturday Paper world editor Jonathan Pearlman in his fine piece called what’s happening in Gaza an invasion. When the Russians waged war and invaded Ukraine, they called it “a special military operation”. Now, most of the Western media would have us believe the Israeli invasion of Gaza is a “ground offensive”, a “land incursion”, “conflict in Gaza” or the “offensive in Gaza”. This is hypocrisy – it is an invasion!

– Bill Clark, Melbourne, Vic

A circular game of control

Mike Seccombe’s article is disturbing in its implications for governance at the hands of organisations such as Advance (“The man behind Australia’s new right-wing force”, November 4-10). The disturbance doesn’t arise from its right-wing affiliation; or from its name, which is a misnomer; or from the complaints lodged against it based on systematic and strategic lies. What Advance does by deliberately using division to spread disinformation is succeed in controlling the population. Control manifests itself in the way opponents are forced to defend their views to put paid to lies, thus reducing them to puppets dancing to pre-arranged tunes. Just pursuing truth in advertising allows more avenues for disinformation and control in a circular game. Perhaps what is required is that we reframe the agenda of “flooding the zone with shit” to label it openly as cynical, manipulative control. We might then, sensing that control, have more space to judge shared facts beneath the emptiness that is Advance’s rhetoric.

– Gil Anaf, Norwood, SA

Time to legislate against lies

Mike Seccombe chillingly describes a tipping point in our body politic. Now that wilful misinformation has sunk the Voice, groups like Advance are emboldened to further flood the democratic system. These reactionary bodies, bereft of any ethical reservations, are fixed on preserving the status quo for their wealthy backers, many of whom suck their wealth from fossil fuels. Cynically, diabolically and mendaciously, they flip facts to discredit progressive issues, finding eager outlets in a largely conservative media. The government must urgently legislate against lies in political advertising. The majority of Australians support this. Only Dutton and his shady far-right backers do not, having much to gain.

– Alison Stewart, Riverview, NSW

Personal insults unnecessary

I have read many splendid articles in The Saturday Paper and have enjoyed the excellence of the journalism. But I was disappointed to begin reading the article by Mike Seccombe about Matthew Sheahan. It’s quite possible to make your point without resorting to personal insults and abuse about a person. Telling us his hair was greasy, he was unkempt, overweight and also had a speech defect sounded like the sort of appalling comments Trump would make about his adversaries. Quite irrelevant and frankly sloppy journalism. I’m well aware of the part Sheahan played in the “No” campaign and his politically leanings, which I repudiate. Please maintain your quality journalism. We are not stupid and don’t need that kind of tactic to understand what the author is trying to say.

– Rosemary Embery, Dulwich Hill, NSW

Follow at own risk

John Hewson (“Albanese and the superpowers”, November 4-10) provides a perspicacious account of Australia’s history of “having America’s back”. It is worth noting explicitly that Australia has not followed the United States into a single conflict that has resulted in the desired conclusion. The interventions in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq were all disastrous. We can only hope Australia’s commitment to AUKUS is not equally terrible.

– Juliet Flesch, Kew, Vic

Former PM’s white-line fever

The naive might think it was the thrill of returning to the “mother country” that encouraged former PMs Tony Abbott and John Howard to speak at the ultraconservative conference of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, or as your editorial put it, the “conference of reactionaries” (“Truth or dare”, November 4-10). However, as you say, it was more likely the defeat of the referendum that emboldened them. Both believers in the supremacy of Western civilisation, they have little time for other cultures, Indigenous or otherwise. As John Hewson wrote, “echoes of White Australia, persists across the country” (“The stain of White Australia”, October 7-13).

– Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 11, 2023.

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