A QUESTION was asked last week. Has Israel lost the moral high ground?

I would ask another. Did Israel have any moral ground to stand on prior to Hamas insurgents launching their murderous attack on Israel on October 7? It is said hundreds of Israelis were killed, and an estimated 240 hostages were taken.

Since the Balfour Declaration in 1917, to the eventual foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, and beyond, it seems Israelis have always considered themselves to be superior to Palestinians. Indeed, in the early 1940s, a group of Zionists were ready to proclaim their people as part of the master race, and openly co-operated with Nazi Germany against the Allies, until they discovered what Germany’s master race was predicated on.

Israel has always considered Palestinian life to be cheap, and during the period from 1948 to 1956, Israeli border guards are believed to have killed between 2700 and 5000 unarmed Palestinians who were only seeking to return to their old homeland for economic or social reasons. Up until the fateful day of October 7 of this year, Israel was utilising a form of apartheid to maintain control of what became an open prison for Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza, under an extreme right-wing Zionist government led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who will shortly be appearing in Israeli courts on charges of corruption.

He also seems to have been actively supportive of Israeli attempts to expand its legal territory, and backs Israeli settlers who think nothing of threatening, and then murdering Gazans, who simply refuse attempts by them to take over their land or property. Why did he ask America for 20,000 assault rifles? It certainly wasn’t for his so-called defence forces that are armed to the teeth and like a two-faced Janus can turn from defence to a belligerent aggressor in a trice as witnessed recently. So, it’s poor little Israel with all the latest weaponry, pulverizing an unarmed peace-loving civilian society with bombs and rockets back into the stone age.

So, back to October 7 and Israel’s much-vaunted security services were seriously ineffectual and failed utterly to unearth even a hint of Hamas’s preparations for the attacks, that were carried out in broad daylight, in full view of anyone who cared to watch. Israel’s immediate response?

The deaths of 15,000 innocent Gazan men, women and children, with 40% of them children, and similar numbers of them maimed or wounded. At least one million of the survivors have been declared homeless, and control freaks in Israel are totally responsible for an embargo on water, electricity, fuel supplies, food and medical supplies that have seen necessary operations carried out without anesthetic and babies set to die in their incubators when warmth was denied.

The National: Air strikes have resumed in Gaza (Adel Hana/AP)

Netanyahu has claimed that the above carnage is unfinished business, and following the current short ceasefire has promised that the wholesale horror of slaughter and creation of a wasteland will continue with unabated enthusiasm. Has Israel lost the moral high ground? It managed to win it for a couple of days thanks to Hamas, and managed to lose it again immediately thereafter.
Bruce Moglia
via email

TELL us, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, what is the difference between underground tunnels in Gaza and underground bunkers in Israel? The differences may be in what they contain.

Israel is estimated to have 90 nuclear warheads, with fissile material stockpiles of over 200. It has modern bombs and rockets to arm its F-15, F-16 and F-35 jet fighters, AH-64D Apache, AH-1 Cobra helicopters, Merkava tanks, M109 howitzers – the list is endless. Ammunition for such weapon systems must be secured and protected in vast underground magazines, built with reinforced concrete, connected by tunnels.

On the other hand, Hamas – a supposedly mighty adversary in encircled Gaza – have tunnels dug out by hand. Dug out with picks and shovels, carried out in bags. When such was done by allied prisoners of war in the Second World War, they had movies made to commemorate their heroism. Hamas are branded day and night as terrorists for trying to protect their identity in their own land. What we are witnessing is the orchestrated humiliation and slaughter of a nation’s people whose great sin is that they refuse to submit.

What armaments Hamas possess are mainly light infantry weapons, self-assembled homemade rockets, and drones. Compared to their oppressors, it might as well be bows and arrows.

Hamas are accused by some of hatred towards Israel. Is that feeling any different from what Europeans felt towards occupying Nazis?

During the Second World War, occupying Nazis behaved in a not dissimilar manner as Israel towards the occupied nation of Palestine. As in, if you kill one of us, we will kill ten of you.
Bob Cotton
via email

ANDREW Tickell, with no disrespect to any of the other contributors to the Sunday National, is in my view one of the most intellectual, considered, fearless writers for the paper (mind you, Mike Small is right up there with him too!). For me, Andrew epitomises the term “speaking truth to power” to a T.

His latest column in the Sunday National (November 26), about Alex Salmond’s legal action against the Scottish Government, was impeccable. It was an excellent piece on the technical, legalistic aspects of Alex’s case.

The National: Alex Salmond launches The Wee Alba Book at Cappielow..

All this “misfeasance in public office” stuff does sound pretty damning if true, but no doubt the courts will sort that out. It does, however – as meticulously explained by Andrew – require Alex to prove that those in government making decisions about what action to take in respect of sexual harassment allegations made against him by nine women, were made in bad faith.

As Andrew explains, the Scottish Government’s sexual harassment inquiry in 2019 into the case related to this, was “cocked up” which stymied any internal investigation into the matter. A subsequent criminal case against Alex, which has a higher bar regarding proof, compared to internal workplace investigations, in respect of these allegations proceeded and he was cleared of all charges.

READ MORE: Scotland must confront Westminster if we want our independence

What has never been proven in any court of law, to date, however, was that anyone was oot to “get” Alex in any sort of malicious manner. What we have to remember is that just because a court of law deemed that Alex was not guilty of these allegations, that doesn’t mean those women’s allegations weren’t made in good faith and were malicious. I acknowledge Alex’s case isn’t against these women but consider it’s vital to stress this, as there was much garbage spouted on social media about them at the time by some supporters of Alex. I can only imagine how these women felt about all this at that time and since.

Likewise, and this is where all this misfeasance stuff comes into play, there has been no evidence, to date that I’m aware of, that anyone in the Scottish Government acted in bad faith with respect to actions in relation to the case against Alex. I might be wrong but by bringing this case, sounds like Alex might have something up his sleeve, as they say. Whatever the eventual outcome though, I’m personally dismayed about Alex taking this action and the timing of it. It’s a gift for the SNP’s (a party Alex used to lead!) opponents with a UK election almost certainly sometime next year.
Ivor Telfer
Dalgety Bay, Fife

IN her column on Friday, Joanna Cherry describes supporting the campaign, led by Scottish Homosexual Action Group (SHAG), against section 28 in 1988. I was one of the small group of around eight SHAG activists. We started SHAG in December 1987 when Section 28 was announced, and we chose that name as a bit of a dig at the existing campaign group (Scottish Homosexual Rights Group), which was not taking action. Hundreds of LGB and trans people were united in support of the campaign during the first half of 1988.

I am lucky to have been able to continue LGBT equality campaigning for 35 more years, most recently as director of the Equality Network. And I do mean LGBT – trans people face some different equality issues from LGB people, but of course lesbians and gay men also face different issues (sexism and misogyny, reproductive rights, and HIV for example). That doesn’t stop us working together.

We do that in part because underpinning the different prejudices LGBT people face is the same idea, that there are unvarying traditional gender rules and roles that must not be transgressed.

Contrary to Joanna Cherry’s claim, no-one working for LGBT equality wants to erase same-sex attraction. As a gay man, of course I do not; the suggestion is absurd. But it does seem that Joanna wants to erase gender identity. She describes it as a “theory”, and seems not to accept that some people have a gender identity that doesn’t match their physical sex characteristics. But that’s a fact established by decades of science. Those people just want to be able to get on with their lives, living in their gender identity. That’s a right supported by two decades of international human rights law.

Back in 1988, I designed a poster for SHAG’s campaign against Section 28, which quoted from Martin Niemoeller: “First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists...”

In the UK, culture wars are currently targeting trans people, but elsewhere in Europe LGB people are also being attacked by new laws similar to Section 28. Homophobic hate crimes are on the rise here too. Now more than ever, we should be standing together, for equality for all.
Tim Hopkins
Director, Equality Network

SO the developed world, which largely caused climate change, is celebrating its generosity to countries which are being seriously impacted in their latest donation to COP28. An amazing example of self-delusion which the media happily promotes.

They ignore the fact that they made pledges before at earlier COPs but failed to fulfil them. Now years later, they offer $420m, about £333m. A lot of money, but embarrassingly short of what is needed. It’s the kind of money the UK Ministry of Defence could lose in a week.

How about the £8.7 BILLION which the UK Government has been found to have squandered on dodgy PPE during the Covid pandemic, or the £140m (and rising) being handed over to Rwanda for an unlawful project? And to be fair, you’d be lucky to get two new ferries for that amount in Scotland.

I wonder if the Maldives are celebrating today.
Roddie Macpherson