Israel’s wall protects it from terrorism
With regard to his letter on Israel (Irish Examiner 22nd September 2016), I would be loath to accuse Dr Edward Horgan of bias but his attention to accuracy and content seems to leave a lot to be desired.
He is obviously not aware of - or chooses to ignore - the terms, conditions and responsibilities enshrined in the Oslo Accords, signed on behalf of the Palestinians by Yasser Arafat - under which Israel is allowed to build in Area C of what is known as the West Bank just in the same way that these Accords allow the Palestinians to build in Area A which is administered by the PA. To my knowledge Israel has never breached these specific terms and conditions and neither has the PA.
With regard to his claim that Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) were ‘Palestinian lands’ prior to 1967, he obviously knows nothing about - or chooses to ignore - the history of the region; because prior to 1967, this territory was accepted internationally as being part of and governed by Jordan who sequestered it following the unsuccessful attempt to wipe out the fledgling state of Israel in 1948. And the whole concept of the Palestinians as a separate national group did not emerge until the early 1960s. Perhaps he can tell us how and when Judea and Samaria became ‘Palestinian land’.
As for the Peace Wall - which runs for less than 10% of the border between Palestinian-governed Area A and Israel/Area C, the rest being electronically-supervised and patrolled fencing - the reason for its height was to stop Palestinian terrorists firing bullets and grenades from high buildings and high land into Israel with the intent of killing Israelis and others. And the whole Peace Wall/Fence has been incredibly successful in limiting the number of terrorist attacks from Area A on Israeli citizens and tourists/visitors - Jew, Muslim, Christian etc alike: from over 200 in the year before it was built to less than 10 last year. Just think: if there had been no terrorist attacks in the first place there would have been no need for this barrier.
With regard to his assertion that Israel is an apartheid state, I really don’t think Dr Horgan understands the meaning of the word. If he’s suggesting that Israeli citizens by dint of creed or colour are treated differently from each other, he is wrong: just look at the number of non-Jews who hold high position in education, in the legal system, in the civil service, in the army etc. There are even Arab members of the Knesset (parliament) who oppose the existence of Israel. Apartheid? Perhaps he could provide substantiation for this allegation.
If, however, he is hijacking this word to describe the fact that non-Israelis do not have all the rights of Israelis, he is absolutely 100% correct in exactly the same way that non-Irish visitors do not enjoy all the rights conferred on Irish citizens by the Irish government. Another example of double standards - one set for Israel, another set for the rest of the world?
Dr Horgan’s letter reeks of ignorance and prejudice which some might regard as anti-semitism under the EU definition. Perhaps he could show more accuracy, context and substantiation for claims made in his next letter on Israel instead of simply parroting anti-Israel propaganda.
Opera House fire misrepresented
I am glad that George Harding (23/9/16) confirms that the Cork Opera House was not burned down by Republicans as stated in the recently published book On the banks: Cork city in Poems and Songs because he helps prevent this yarn acquiring legs as is wont to happen these days with such matters.
I am also glad for his assurance that the book’s editor, “the excellent Allanah Hopkin,” is well aware of the facts. I am sure therefore he, and readers, would agree that she has set a new, probably unique, standard in poetic licence in accepting a total misrepresentation of a well known historical fact in her collection. If not poetic licence maybe it should come under the rubric of Comic Opera?
Greatest threat to civil liberties
The article by Margaret Hickey entitled ‘‘Safe space’ now a tool of liberal censorship’ (Irish Examiner, 22nd September) has to be one of the most enlightened articles published in any newspaper in recent times. There is no doubt that the greatest threat to free speech and civil liberties comes from those who like to call themselves ‘liberal’.
Communities lose voice on housing
The Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, Rebuilding Ireland, has much to commend it. Its full implementation is likely to make a serious impact on a crisis that is otherwise threatening to spiral out of control. However, the proposal to amend planning legislation to allow large housing developments of 100 homes or more to go directly to An Bord Pleanala is a retrograde and unwelcome proposal.
This proposal will lead to a major weakening of the rights of local communities to have a voice in major planning decisions that impact on their community. These rights are enshrined in our legislation and supported by the legally binding EU Public Participation Directive. These legal rights should not be hollowed out or weakened.
A statutory pre-planning consultation process with local authorities, mentioned in media reports, will not address the democratic deficit that will be created.
Builders and developers building 100 houses are not just engaged in the business of building houses. They are building a community.
The expertise of local planners, and the statutory provisions of County Development Plans, along with local community inputs, are essential context for local decision-making about such significant developments.
It is unacceptable that this well-grounded and well-informed local knowledge would be effectively removed from the local sphere of influence and decision-making on large developments, and this at a time when exciting models of community engagement in shaping localities and in participatory design are taking hold.
An Bord Pleanala cannot and will not be a manageable forum for local engagement with projects in the way that the current planning provisions facilitate.
Indeed, Rebuilding Ireland (Appendix 3) proposes that in the interests of efficiency, requests for further information or the holding of oral hearings will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.
Of course it is essential to streamline planning processes and remove any unnecessary administrative delays in approving housing proposals, whether these occur at departmental level, at local authority level or indeed within an Bord Pleanala.
We are being asked to believe that this streamlining requires and depends on removing local citizen input. If there are resources available to gear up An Bord Pleanala for this body of work, why not invest that resource in strengthening and rebuilding local planning departments and leave our citizen rights alone.
Women would be misguided to back Trump over Hillary
I am amazed at Alison O’Connor’s article outlining all kinds of trivial reasons for being critical of Hillary Clinton’s attempt to become president of the US [September 23].
The under-representation of the majority of the population that are women in the decision-making forums of what are supposed to be representative democracies is one of the major faults of democratic rule world wide.
Marginalising the talents, perspectives and interests of such an important and vital majority is not in anyone’s interest.
It is, therefore, difficult to understand why the historical fact that Hillary Clinton’s attempt to become the first woman to be the most powerful politician in the world is either being ignored or is meeting with so much opposition, even from women.
In contrast the arrogance-will-get-you-everywhere attitude of Trump, her Republican opponent is receiving widespread publicity, and praise by commentators in TV, electronic media and newspapers.
Hillary Clinton is not without fault but she is an experienced and capable politician representing the mainstream, democratic centre which has kept totalitarian extremes at bay since WW2. Even more important she is also a member of the female majority of the population which has been politically marginalised for centuries.
If Hillary Clinton, representing mainstream democracy, , does not become the next president of the US when all she has opposing her is Trump — a representatives of the arrogant, patriarchal and near totalitarian right — one would worry for the future of democracy and for the sanity of the majority of the population that are women.