The Guardian 7 September, 2005

Readers are invited to submit letters to The Guardian.
Letters may be e-mailed to, or posted to:
The Guardian, 74 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia.
Letters of 300-400 words are preferred.

Letters to the Editor

Dear Settlers

"Dear" in the most literal sense. At long last it must be spelled out, without hypocritical pity, without "if" and "but".

We have paid billions of shekels in order to settle you in the Gaza Strip. We have paid billions to keep you there, and most of you have lived there at our expense. We paid billions to defend you, and dozens of soldiers, male and female, lost their lives doing this. Now we are paying billions (Eight? Ten? Twelve?) to get you out of there and pay you generous compensation.

But all this is not enough. Again you are shouting. Again you are being robbed. Again we owe you much, much more. Whole stretches of the country, preferably on the sea-shore, to be especially reserved for you, so that you can resettle "as whole communities". So that you can live separately. So that you can have your own separate schools. So that you can draw government salaries as employees of the local council, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Defence.

I don’t know whether the Guinness Book of Records awards a title for champions of impertinence, cheek, impudence — in short, good old Jewish chutzpah. If so, you should win it hands down. In the past we only owed each of you a luxury villa for next to nothing, as well as a source of livelihood, land and water, now it seems we owe you everything. It is your right to help yourselves from the money needed for the sick, the elderly, the handicapped, the children, the unemployed. Because you are the best of the best. Because you are holding on to the beard of the Messiah. Because you were personally chosen by God.

I might have some sympathy for your plight, if you had uttered one word of compassion for the inhabitants of the 1500 Palestinian homes that were destroyed because of you, a greater number than all the homes of the settlers that are being destroyed now. If you had expressed any compassion for the children that were evicted from their homes within half an hour, without compensation, without hotels and psychologists. For the thousands of trees uprooted in order to supply you with "security".

As the good Rabbi Hillel said 2000 years ago, when he saw the skull floating down the river: "Because you have drowned others, you were drowned…"

And please remember: the bill is not being paid by "the State", an anonymous body, but by me and the Israeli readers of this letter, out of our own pockets.

Yuri Avnery
Gush Shalom
Israeli Peace Bloc

Peter Costello & lefty teachers

Peter Costello’s loony theory that many Australians are anti-American because they were taught by lefty teachers has triggered much debate around the country.

Well, most of us can agree on one thing. Peter Costello is right — extreme right!

He would greatly assist this country if he resigned as treasurer and undertake a much more thorough study of social history. With his level of knowledge on the subject, he needs to.

He is not doing too good a job as treasurer either. He seems to think that his role in that position is to improve Australia’s assets (like Telstra) so that he can sell them off for a song.

As a failed Treasurer and failed social historian, we definitely don’t want him for a PM either!

Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Forestville, SA

FTA bad news —
US lobbyists "in the money"

There have already been some big winners out of Australia’s free-trade deal with the United States — American lawyers and lobbyists. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, in answer to a question from his Labor counterpart Kevin Rudd, has revealed the government spent $1.5 million on US-based lobbyists and lawyers to get the deal.

The firm Bockorny Petrizzo Inc was paid $605,409 over two-and-a-half years for its efforts.

Congress insider magazine The Hill recently named the firm, and one of its chief lobbyists David Bockorny, as one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington. Australia paid another $839,343 to the huge law firm Mayer, Brown, Rowe and Maw over the same two-and-a-half years for its efforts. The firm, with more than 1300 lawyers across the US and Europe, is one of the 10 largest law operations in the world.

Another $59,649 was paid to the firm Covington and Burling for its legal advice and lobbying over a new type of visa for Australian business people. Since the trade deal started operation this year, Australia’s trade deficit with the US has worsened.

Australian exports fell $9.4 billion over the 12 months to June this year, while imports from the US jumped $2 billion to $21.3 billion. The trade deficit now stands at $11.8 billion, the largest Australia runs with any nation. (Internet report). [Sep 2, 05]

Mary Jenkins
Perth, WA

Support Iraqi trade unions

The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau is shocked to learn the anti-labour and unfair practices, contrary to the International conventions and decisions, pursued by the Government of Iraq. We learn that on 7 August, the Iraqi Council of Ministers stated that the government would be "taking control of all monies belonging to the trade unions to prevent them from dispensing any such monies." This decree revokes the decisions taken on union rights by Iraq’s provisional government and permits the control and confiscation of trade union monies by the government authorities. It also states that the right to carry out union activities is to be reviewed.

Since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, an active union movement over 700,000 strong has emerged in Iraq. This attack on Iraqi unions is an attempt to stop their activities for improving living standards, for justice and democracy and their challenge to foreign ownership of Iraqi oil and privatisation.

The WFTU demands that the decree be revoked and the Iraqi government respect the democratic rights of workers to control their own unions without interference from government and corporations.

We express our solidarity with the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions and appeal to all affiliates of WFTU to support the just cause of the workers of Iraq who are fighting for the rights.

H Mahadevan
Deputy General Secretary WFTU

Back to index page