Letters to the Editor: Palestine, PAD and Barnesy

Wayne Barnes. PHOTO: REUTERS
Wayne Barnes. PHOTO: REUTERS
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including the Israel-Palestine conflict, concerns about physician assisted dying (PAD), and is Wayne Barnes to blame?


Strong reactions to ‘The Mix’ feature

As a great supporter of the ODT’s high standard of journalism, I was surprised to see the major historical distortion in your feature "The New Apartheid" (The Mix, 11.11.23). Your writer noted the 1947 UN-sponsored partition into a Palestine and an Israel and then wrote "what came next is known to the Palestinians as the Nakba".

That was not what came next. What came after the UN-mandated partition and before the Nakba was a war in which Arab armies invaded Israel with the explicit recorded goal of wiping it off the map. To omit this is to misrepresent the history of this terrible blood-drenched conflict where one awful event has followed another for eight decades.

Stephen Davis


It was really nice to see journalists writing about what is going on with a clear understanding of the history and the horrors of the modern context, including the Nakba and day-to-day violence faced by Palestinians at the hands of Israel (and the US).

Peyton Bond


Tom McKinlay and the ODT have some difficult questions to answer. McKinlay’s article appeared only a few weeks after the horrific October 7 massacre. New Zealand Jews are traumatised and fearful, Jewish kids are being bullied at schools and businesses are being targeted.

Why is now an acceptable time to launch a public campaign of vilification and half-truths which will inevitably cause more aggression towards Aotearoa’s small Jewish population? Why was the old canard of a "new apartheid" resurrected, when this charge has been robustly defended for decades?

Why not castigate Hamas for hiding behind civilians? For shooting Gazans in the back as they tried to evacuate? For using children to dig tunnels? For transporting troops and weapons in ambulances? These are all questions that the journalist and editor of the ODT must answer.

Greg Bouwer


Tom McKinlay’s article is a great example of how many people around the world are making life vastly worse for the Palestinian people in the disputed territories of Gaza and the West Bank area. Anything bad Israel or the Jews have been accused of (and yes, there is evidence for some of it) is repeated over and over with no discussion of the context. No mention of constant attacks on Israeli settlers — just allegations of settlers sniping at Arabs in cold blood, as one small example. Hamas see articles like this and they know their best hope is to fan the flames against Israel in the West.

You want peace? Get rid of Hamas, Islamic State, Hezbollah and the like.

Robert Kyles


Credit to your feature writer, Tom McKinlay, for at least putting his name to the one-sided article "The New Apartheid". I look forward to the second part of the article, "The New Holocaust", on Jews having lived in "Palestine" for more than 3500 years; having been subjected to centuries of colonisation, persecution and exile, starting with the Assyrians; and the repeated attempts by Arab countries to kill every Jew and exterminate Israel, currently by Iran through its terrorist puppets.

In the same issue, you have published the latest in a series of attacks on Israel over the years by "Civis", who continues to hide under the cloak of anonymity.

The time has long since passed when readers are told who pens these attacks, or the newspaper stops publishing them.

Michael Harman


Don’t blame the ref, the Boks were luckier

While I agree with your correspondent's opinion (ODT 17.11.23), that Wayne Barnes has done little to warrant a knighthood, let us be fair to the guy in one respect. He did not, all by himself, stuff up the match which saw New Zealand's exit from the Rugby World Cup; he had considerable overly zealous and nit-picking assistance from the "dobbers-on-the-sideline'’. With so much at stake, he had been delivered a hospital pass by the organisers, from the first time-on.

Some of the final decisions, made upstairs, had strained credulity. Constant stop-start interference from those quarters badly diminished the enjoyment of the game as mass entertainment, and turned the determination of the final outcome into a lottery. The All Blacks were not beaten by a better team on the day, more of the chips simply fell in the Springboks' favour.

Ian Smith


School lockdown

Thank you Bayfield High School staff for prioritising student health and safety rather than ignoring the situation to tweet, post and update the world in real time.

Brent Caldwell


Agreement needed over slippery slope

In a recent Passing Notes (ODT 11.11.23), Civis discusses his/her concerns regarding physician assisted dying (PAD), shared by many who opposed the End of Life Choice Act 2021. One of the much repeated concerns is the risk of a seriously ill person being coerced to seek PAD to relieve pressure on friends or family. Under s24 of the Act a doctor cannot proceed with an application if there is any suspicion of coercion. Civis also discussed the contradiction of a physician's role in healing rather than “executing” patients.

Two friends in Holland had terminal cancer; both derived great peace of mind from the PAD agreements in place with their doctor, and both died peacefully without PAD. An important part of that peace was knowing PAD would be available if suffering became unbearable. A physician's role is to relieve suffering and PAD can be part of that role.

Civis makes the very good point of suicide not being a pathological reaction to ongoing, unrelieved and unbearable suffering. This suffering can include chronic severe mental illness. It is cruel to compare this state of being with inadequate housing or lack of social or psychiatric support. I agree palliative care should be fully funded, but for some it is not an option. It may not be available in close proximity to loved ones, or relief for their suffering may be beyond even the best palliative care.

Following a review of the present legislation, I hope anyone facing prolonged and unbearable suffering will be eligible for PAD. Also that doctors should be able to discuss this option with patients facing such suffering, and how relieved many of us would be if we could have an advance directive agreeing to PAD when our mental and physical "slippery slope" reached a point agreed between doctor and patient.

Elaine Pollock


Address Letters to the Editor to: Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, 52-56 Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Email: editor@odt.co.nz