Latest violence might prove a turning point

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Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, on Sunday October 8.Credit: AP

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The surprise attack by Hamas forces into Israel (“Revellers run for lives as violence hits”, 9/10) reminds me of the surprise 1968 Tet offensive in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Though the US and South Vietnamese army defeated the North Vietnamese forces, it was eventually a turning point that led to a war-weary US and world opinion withdrawing support for the Vietnam War.
Could this present conflict see a war-weary Israel and world opinion finally deciding that occupation of Palestinian territory and control of population, doesn’t guarantee peace and security for Israel? Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

Take responsibility
Contrary to what your correspondents suggest (Letters, 9/10), the root cause of the latest war with Israel is the refusal of very many in that region to accept the right of the Jewish people to have a state in their ancestral homeland; a state that comprises merely 0.1 per cent of the landmass of the Middle East.
The UN Partition Plan of 1947-48 that allowed for the creation of both Jewish and Palestinian states was rejected by the Arab leadership, as has been the case with every subsequent Israeli two-state peace offer. To this day, the Hamas Charter advocates for the “liberation of all of Palestine”; the ultimate cause of the “ongoing hardship” experienced by Gazans.
Until the Palestinian authorities take responsibility for their own behaviour, including their making of generous payments to terrorists who kill Israeli civilians, rather than spending that money on schools and hospitals, there is little prospect for any meaningful improvement in the life of the average Palestinian.
Geoff Feren, St Kilda East

The toll will be immense
The surprise attack by Hamas on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war is seen as a failure of Israeli intelligence services, as was their failing to predict the surprise attack by Egypt and Syria in 1973.
While Hamas crows about its “victorious battle” and urges all Palestinians to rise up and liberate “their stolen lands”, its grasp on history is flawed as after initial success, the forces of Egypt and Syria (with contingents from other Arab states) were comprehensively defeated.

This surprise attack and killings of unarmed civilians, men, women and children has inflamed and united all Israelis to seek vengeance and wage total war against Hamas and its ideological partners. While the 1973 war did move Israel and Egypt to a peace treaty, Hamas’ stated aim to destroy the state of Israel negates such an outcome.

Israel will suffer further in the war, but the toll on Gaza will be immense and when the battles end, Hamas will have not achieved the liberation of Palestine but only great destruction and greater misery on the people of Gaza.
Harry Kowalski, Ivanhoe

Hate can only multiply
Lucy Cormack writes “Netanyahu vows to turn parts of Gaza into ruins” (The Age, 9/10) as the never-ending cycle takes another turn. Palestinians are desperate, fearing that for every Israeli death, 10 times more Palestinians will be obliterated. When will the dominant hardline Israeli power group realise that violence and hate only produce more violence and hate. As Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Two states must be protected
Members of the Palestinian community who talk about the need for their compatriots to be readmitted to the land of their forefathers need to be reminded that in November 1947 the United Nations General Assembly voted to create a Jewish state and an Arab state side by side. But Israel must vacate the settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Robin Rothfield, Brighton East


Progressive state
I have always been proud to live in Australia’s most progressive state. During the same-sex marriage postal survey Victoria returned the highest Yes vote, for example. More recently, the Yoorrook Justice Commission, the first formal “truth-telling” process into injustices suffered by First Peoples, opened in Victoria. It aims to speed up a formal treaty.

So it was sad to read that Victoria may not support Saturday’s referendum for a First Nations Voice to Parliament (“Victorians continue to turn against initiative”, 9/10). I can only put this down to the very different world we live in today where social media rules and the pace of living leaves many of us time poor. The short clip by Indigenous rapper Briggs reminds us that only a quick search is needed to find out what it’s about.

Hopefully, people have been too busy to respond to the phone surveys and the real Victoria will stand up on Saturday. If we don’t, Tassie will have a claim for our “most progressive” title.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Taking the lead
Your correspondent states that, “the Coalition has never taken a lead role in the campaigning for No” (“Careful approach”, 8/10). Clearly the most influential support for the No campaign came when Peter Dutton announced in May that the Coalition was supporting No and that his shadow cabinet members would be obliged to oppose the referendum (causing his then shadow minister for Indigenous affairs and shadow attorney-general Julian Leeser to resign from the shadow cabinet so that he could continue to support the Yes campaign).

Dutton’s stance saw an immediate plummet in the percentage of people supporting the Yes campaign with a corresponding jump in No supporters. Dutton’s stance belies the fact that the process that led us to this referendum commenced under John Howard and continued with bipartisan support through the Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments. Dutton is the first opposition leader this century to not offer bipartisan support, let alone to not even allow his cabinet members a conscience vote.
Mark Thomson, Beaumaris

Recognise and consult
New Zealand, Canada, US, Finland, Sweden and Norway all recognise and consult First Nations peoples. Some have designated seats in their parliaments, others have their own parliaments. These countries have such guarantees written into their constitutions, backed by treaties formed many years ago. We have a chance to catch up. We are simply being asked to recognise that First Nations people were here for more than 60,000 years by giving them a say in their affairs. I suggest that each of us read the Uluru Statement from the Heart out loud before we place our vote. How can we ignore the invitation “to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”?
Pauline Brown, Woodend

Viewing suggestion
I applaud your correspondent suggesting that we ignore the advice of both Yes and No proponents and instead read books such as Truganini by Cassandra Pybus (Letters, 9/10). I would also suggest that the seven-part documentary series First Australians be included in the mix. I doubt that anybody who has viewed this series could vote No.
Mark Hulls, Sandringham

I am tired of the condescension of correspondents who appear to think that when someone says “I don’t know” they haven’t taken the time to find out about the issues raised by the proposed Voice to parliament. I have taught Australian history at VCE and have read widely about this matter. However, I am still unconvinced that it’s the right thing to put an untested, inadequately explained body permanently in the Constitution. I am not ignorant, I simply don’t know.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont

Political tribes
The saddest thing about the poll numbers for the referendum is that only 16 per cent of Coalition voters have indicated an intention to vote Yes. This demonstrates that the referendum has become a political tribal issue, not a question of the merits of the proposal. As Sean Kelly writes (Comment, 9/10), Peter Dutton can claim responsibility for that. But like Coleridge’s ancient mariner, I suspect the result will be an albatross hanging around his neck for the remainder of his political career.
Daniel Cole, St Albans

International reputation
George Brandis (“What Albanese must say if Voice rejected”, 9/10) offers some advice to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese following the divisive referendum campaign. It should also be a cause for reflection by all Australians, regardless of the outcome. Australia once had a well-deserved, international reputation as an egalitarian, multicultural nation – committed to the ideal of a “fair go”.

Has this changed over the past 25 years as a result of: our cruel treatment of refugees arriving by boat and attempts to shift our responsibilities to poorer neighbours; our moves to undermine international climate agreements largely at the behest of the fossil fuel industry; the bitter, sometimes racist nature of the referendum debate, partly stoked by some political leaders; our apparent tolerance for leaders who seem to address most issues through a prism of possible political advantage, rather than national interest and reputation?
If most Australians feel satisfied with our record, then we should redefine “Australian character” to align more closely with our powerful US “protector” where survival of the fittest seems the defining value.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne

A simple request
According to George Brandis, a No vote would just be rejecting the model of recognition proposed in the constitutional referendum. The pejorative implication being that it is the prime minister’s model. Brandis himself fails to recognise that the referendum question is actually the request made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples themselves through the Uluru Statement. A No vote will resonate as a failure to listen to a heartfelt and simple request. It will hit all of us hard, not just the prime minister.
Russell Crellin, Greensborough

Good move
Congratulations to the NSW government for banning mobile phones during school hours, despite “no scientific evidence” this benefits students (“Phone ban at schools not backed by scientific data”, 8/10).

Some time ago I was a supervisor in a boarding school where it was decided that mobile phones (and computers) would be collected in the evenings and locked away till morning. At first there were complaints, even from parents who thought it acceptable to chat to their children at all hours. However, it was obvious the students benefited, particularly with the younger students.

It will be tricky to administer in day schools as students have second, old and even extra SIM cards, but the benefits are obvious. Freeing a child’s brain to concentrate on learning during the school day and even improving their social skills of face-to-face communication will be a positive move, even in the absence of “scientific evidence”.
Christina Foo, Wahroonga, NSW

Poor service
As a regular train commuter to Bendigo, it was fascinating to read about the future vision for the regional city (“Booming CBD: When the only way is up for Bendigo”, 9/10). Nowhere was an increase to V/Line services to bring workers and students from outlying areas into Bendigo mentioned. The Bendigo train service has the last first-morning service of all V/Line routes, getting into Bendigo at 8.20, and that’s when it’s on time and not cancelled. This doesn’t leave much time to get to work or school, forcing the commuters who can to drive. The train is overcrowded, there’s never enough room for the many bikes and sometimes cyclists are denied access to the train by the conductor.

Commuters have been campaigning for an earlier train for years, to no avail. Is it too much to hope, with the new premier being the member for East Bendigo, that Jacinta Allan will finally do something and make the future vision of Bendigo more than a discussion paper?
Rohan Wightman, McKenzie Hill

Still waiting
Much is made of the expensive projects currently under way in Melbourne to prepare for anticipated growth. But as a result, regional Victorians who travel into the CBD like five of my senior neighbours on Saturday, face a pretty shabby experience.

According to the PTV app, the 9.30 train would arrive in Flinders Street at 11am leaving three hours for shopping and a leisurely lunch before the show. Instead, at 11am they found themselves standing in a long queue outside a suburban station in the rain. Because of (scheduled) track work, they had to board a coach to Southern Cross station, and there were not enough seats arranged to accommodate all the passengers. When they finally arrived, the tram to the theatre stopped well short of their destination because the Bourke Street Mall was being dug up.

In the end they only had time for a quick coffee and a sandwich.

Perhaps some of the money lavished on grandiose city-centric projects could be used to improve the now lamentable co-ordination of the transport network serving the “world’s (once) most liveable city”.
Mike Sanderson, Drouin

Road blocks
When will roads in the Macedon Ranges and Hepburn finally be repaired after storm damage well over two years ago? Slowing traffic down works only for so long before frustrated drivers ignore the “temporary” speed restrictions. Road fatalities are reasonably foreseeable if urgent and proper repairs are not made.
Andrew Staite, Trentham East


Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

The Voice
Up with the top values we have instilled in our children is curiosity. Our education system celebrates curiosity among our children as an important value for them to have an engaging and inclusive future. If you don’t know … find out!
Sandra Bennett, Hawthorn East

Ralph Babet’s No advertisement via Clive Palmer says all Australians should have an equal voice … unless you are Clive Palmer who can shout at the whole of Australia due to his obscene amounts of money he spends on advertising his opinions.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

There are few things more inclined to make me vote Yes than a Clive Palmer advertisement encouraging me to vote No.
Colin Smith, Mount Waverley

Few would argue that our treatment of and attitude towards our First Nations people was not an utter disgrace when the Constitution was drafted in the 1890s. It is time that our Constitution reflected our growth over the past 120-plus years.
Lynne Vero, Ascot Vale

If America took only half the money it spends on election campaigns it would go a long way to helping solve the enormous poverty that overwhelms many of its citizens.
Anne Maki, Alphington

Make councils redundant? Great idea (Letters, 7/10). Other services no longer provided: building inspectors, air and water pollution control, effective noise control and more, despite expensive and unneeded bureaucracies.
Robin Stewart, Romsey

After the recent shootings in Melbourne, it seems that tobacco does indeed kill.
Denis Evans, Lisbon, Portugal

Why don’t they ever have referendums about starting wars? That’s one I’d vote No to!
Merron Cullum, Cremorne

Stop the flying boats.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West

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