An embarrassing stance for the PM

An embarrassing stance for the PM

THERE will be two especially red faces in Canberra this week, one of them Prime Minister Julia Gillard's and the other Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem's, given Ms Gillard was rolled in her bid to have Australia vote against Palestine being accorded observer state status at the UN, forced into an abstention instead. Tel Aviv's prompt and provocative response, announcing it will build another 3000 settler homes in occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank, will only deepen the Gillard embarrassment, serving as it will to make the point that Israel remains preoccupied with its own concerns while providing another 3000 legitimate reasons for Palestinians to express their anger.

Brian Haill, Frankston

The right conditions

YOUR editorial ("A small step for Palestine, and peace", 29/11) risks the opposite of "cynicism" - romanticism - with its assertion of Palestinian desire for peace. The reality lies in the Palestinian conditions for peace, or even talks, which are impossible for Israel to accommodate. The "intractable hostilities that have waged for decades" have been due to the refusal of Arab nations to accept the Jewish state, or a Palestinian state that could have existed 65 years ago, when the UN announced the partition of Palestine in 1947. You say, "Israel must deal with Palestine as a nation - that is the simple premise of a two-state solution". Surely, the Palestinians must also deal with Israel as a nation. Until they accept the right of Israel to exist there can be no real talking. The peace-pushers need to recognise that.

Liat Nagar, Inverloch

Analogy is offensive

HAROLD Zwier ("Leunig's cartoon deserves a more thoughtful Jewish response", Comment, 30/11) shamefully dismisses the legitimate concerns of many in the Jewish community that Michael Leunig's cartoon published in The Age (Comment, 21/11) was offensive, inflammatory and beyond the pale because it implied Israel was acting like Nazi Germany. According to the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, forms of anti-Semitism include "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" - and that is what Leunig's cartoon did. It is also worth recalling that Melbourne is home to a large population of Holocaust survivors, whose sensibilities should be respected.

Colin Rubenstein, executive director,

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, South Melbourne

A common humanity

LEUNIG'S sensibility is to be commended for exposing the darker truths shadowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The issues of social justice and the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people need urgent resolution. This is not anti-Semitic. It is about sharing a common humanity and responsibly working towards a just solution where peace is the outcome. Australia is beginning to see the light with its decision not to vote against Palestinians in the United Nations vote.

Carmen Jankovskis, Wheelers Hill

Opening our minds

HAROLD Zwier's comment that "the power of a cartoon is in the many ways in which it can be interpreted" is even more true than he articulates. A cartoonist with depth of thought such as Leunig puts a concept in our heads and can make us relate it to personal experience. That is the power of cartoonists - to help us think just a little bit deeper - and, maybe, think about the world from a different perspective.

Sue Acheson, Rokeby

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