Since Nelson Mandela became the most loved and admired politician in the world, it is hard to remember that for many years people closed their eyes to what was happening in South Africa, and called those who opposed apartheid ‘terrorists’ – including the ANC and Mandela.
We were among the many Leeds people who campaigned for an end to apartheid through the Leeds Anti-Apartheid and Leeds Women Against Apartheid groups.
We are outraged by Israel’s current bombing of Gaza, but also by their ongoing unjust treatment of the Palestinians which is the root of the problem.
We feel the situation of Palestinians today has many similarities with the legalised discrimination against black people in apartheid South Africa. This includes being expelled from their homes and land and confined to small, discontinuous, unfertile areas
Over 50 laws within the Israeli state that discriminate against or disadvantage Palestinians, including a law preventing the marriage of Jewish and non-Jewish citizens.
Being prevented from travelling freely without permissions and border controls.
In the West Bank and Gaza (occupied territories) two thirds of Palestinians live in absolute poverty.
A total of 92 per cent of the land within Israel is reserved for Jewish citizens only.
Palestinians living within Israel live in separate areas and go to separate (and poorly resourced) schools.
Even if they were born in what is now the state of Israel, Palestinians are not allowed to bring spouses from the occupied territories to live with them in Israel. Surely the most important lesson from apartheid was not that such evil could exist, but that decent people could let it continue.
We urge YEP readers to take action as they did in the past, action which finally got Mandela released from prison and forced the apartheid regime to negotiate change with the ANC, leading to full equality for all citizens. Ask your councillors and MPs to press for an immediate and lasting ceasefire, an end to arms sales to Israel, an end to the blockade of Gaza and for justice for the Palestinians.
Stop buying Israeli goods and find out about the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign. International pressure helped changed South Africa and it can help change life for the Palestinians.
Frances Bernstein, Oakwood and 38 other signatories
Don’t mock sincere beliefs
MHIC McGlashan wants to know where God was during the First World War and wonders whether He was too busy jumping from one side of the front line to the other to notice the slaughter (YEP, August 7).
The answer is that unlike Mr McGlashan, God was in heaven. However, I can say with absolute certainty that wherever Mr McGlashan may be, at some point in the future this unenlightened person won’t be here mocking people who hold sincere beliefs.
AI Stubbs, Bridlington
TO answer Mhic McGlashan’s complaint against God, it seems to me that down the years man has always blamed someone else for everything that goes wrong.
Whatever your beliefs, it wasn’t God who said we should go to war in 1914 (or at any other time), so why would he take sides?
We all have free will. That is one of our greatest gifts, and unfortunately even today we squander it at our peril.
So I suggest Mr McGlashan puts the blame for all atrocities firmly where it belongs – with ourselves.
Denise Marsden, Cookridge
Importance of market building
IN his letter on Kirkgate Market (YEP, August 9), DS Boyes refers to the ‘dilapidated market buildings and open section to the rear.’
Unfortunately for DS Boyes it is his ‘thinking’ which is dilapidated and in need of repair.
The market is capable of, and should have been, repaired by the city council a long time ago and, hopefully, is now being repaired.
I will not ask Mr Boyes for his architectural, aesthetic or historian’s credentials – nor for his understanding of social need – but the market is architecturally meritorious, historically significant, as iconic as any of the buildings mentioned by Mr Boyes and is at least as socially useful.
I will just say this: the people for whom Mr Boyes (rightly) says that decent council houses are needed are among those who most need the market and who least need yet another upmarket shopping hub.
Mike Harwood, Kirkstall
Abolish the House of Lords
THE YEP editorial comment that the House of Lords is a discredited institution (YEP, August 9) was spot on.
The Tory party made attempts a couple of years ago to reform it but failed to reduce the number of elected MPs, at the same time bringing in 161 unelected members of the House of Lords since 2010.
David Cameron’s rewarding of party donors and cronies has cost the taxpayer of this country an extra £4m.
This has been done with the support of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who once said he wanted to democratise the House of Lords, when really this outdated institution should be abolished.
John Appleyard, Liversedge
PM needs to care for UK
I DOn’t understand the mixed messages put out by David Cameron.
He tells us we are skint yet there we are giving millions to every country in the world –some of which have much more than us anyway. All very noble of him, but what about this country, which is going down the pan at an alarming rate.
Food banks rising in numbers and disabled sick and unemployed people being persecuted – some to such an extent they actually kill themselves.
What a cruel government we have, I don’t know how they sleep at night.
This country seriously needs somebody with a backbone who cares about British people, not somebody who wants to look good on the world stage and cares nothing about British people’s living standards.
Phillip Ferry, Hawksworth
Missing out on transport plans
REV Robin Paterson does well to remind us of other cities’ transport plans and evokes a Headingley ‘Mafia’ opposing any change (YEP, August 4).
I think ‘resistance group’ might be more accurate.
The problem though lies elsewhere – our council’s historic failure to deliver the goods and successive councils’ inability to remedy matters by securing funding. Other cities constantly manage to get it for their schemes – and according to my AA road atlas and despite my doubts, they do all appear to be in the UK.
As we have German street cleaning machines, bus ticket machines and railway carriages, perhaps we should request a loan from them on favourable terms. This would involve using their expertise to design and/or build our integrated system. The outstanding debt could be paid from fare revenues and the devolved transport budget.
The majority of the labour force would be local.
If not, at this rate our only hope is for Manchester to keep extending its tramlines until they reach us.
Paul Kilroy, Lawnswood