Want true peace? Accept the need for a ceasefire

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The UN and the Australian government have finally begun doing the right thing, in voting for a ceasefire (“Australia breaks with US, backs Gaza ceasefire at United Nations”, 13/12). I am a Jewish Australian and find Senator Simon Birmingham’s suggestion that there could possibly be any such thing as a “premature” ceasefire in Gaza obscene and disingenuous.
The current war will certainly be fuelling more ongoing unbearable pain and justified anger for all Palestinians, and the first thing is to call an immediate ceasefire and for negotiations to begin.
The only way that Israeli people will ever be able to live in peace is for Israel to take its boot off the neck of every Palestinian.
Judith Pile, Abbotsford

First, drive Hamas out
Your correspondent objects to the US vetoing the UN Security Council motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza (Letters, 13/12). Are they aware that a permanent ceasefire would leave Hamas in place as Gaza’s rulers, only leading to more war, with more death and devastation and further attacks on Israel? Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar called the October 7 massacre a rehearsal. The only hope for peace for Israel and Palestinians is for Hamas to be driven out. I suspect some other countries would want Hamas removed too, and only voted for the motion to look humane, secure in the knowledge the US would defeat it.
Stephen Lazar, Elwood

Ideology can’t be destroyed
Recent correspondents continue to assert that a ceasefire in Gaza cannot be justified until Hamas is destroyed, but what does that mean exactly? Hamas isn’t simply individual human beings who can be killed, it is an ideology, and when has war ever destroyed a fundamental belief system? If Israel is entitled to remain outraged at what Hamas has done to Israelis, then are not Palestinians entitled to remain outraged at their oppression by Israel over decades? At what point do we say enough is enough?
Bob Thomas, Blackburn South

Heavy burden on Palestinians
It is good to see Australia voting at the UN for a ceasefire in Gaza. However, the joint statement with NZ and Canada spells out that conditions for a sustainable ceasefire “cannot be one-sided”. Beyond Hamas’ obligations (stop attacks from Gaza, stop use of civilians as shields, all hostages released) and necessary Israeli actions (end the bombing and respect humanitarian law) Anthony Albanese commits to little in the push for a secure two-state solution: an end to the Gaza siege, no Palestinian displacement from Gaza, West Bank settlements and recognition of Palestinian self-determination.
Ken Blackman, Inverloch

Stop the slaughter
I see Australia has voted in favour of a ceasefire at the UN, moving on from our previous abstention. Thank you to the government for this change in heart. There are many wrongs on both sides of this conflict, and we must condemn every one of them. Our first imperative must be to stop the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians, and seek a path to a negotiated peace. This is thankfully one small step in that direction.
Des Bleakley, Vermont South

Contradictory approach
On the one hand, the government issues a statement saying that it sees no place for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza. Yet shortly afterwards it supports a UN General Assembly motion demanding an immediate ceasefire that would allow Hamas to continue to hold onto the areas of the strip it still controls.
As a consequence of taking such a contradictory position, the government may succeed in keeping pro-Palestinian voters on side. However, it certainly won’t appeal to the Jewish community or anyone who admires a consistent and logical approach to international relations.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont


Unsung heroes
Every year, people who have never worked in education are obsessed with the VCE league tables. If only they got a DipEd and spent a year at the chalkface. Those who have spent a career there slog all year with the hand which is dealt, and the resources which are available. Over the years I have enjoyed surprise phone calls: “Remember me? I have just got my PhD”. “Remember me?” I now have a 16-year-old son tackling VCE, and can appreciate your understanding all those years ago. Some of my fondest memories have been helping an underdog achieve a breakthrough: a personal best that will never reach a newspaper.
Roderick Smith, Surrey Hills

Worth a celebration
It’s great that school performance and student achievement are being celebrated in the media (“Ballarat school tops the list for another year”, 13/12). And yes, the top performers tend to be many of the high-cost private and government select-entry schools. However, one government school in particular stands out.
Braybrook College is in one of the most disadvantaged areas in the western suburbs of Melbourne and most students are in the lowest quartiles of socio-economic advantage. Against the odds, it has consistently out-performed more advantaged schools across Melbourne. This year Braybrook achieved a VCE study score of 33 and almost 17 per cent of the cohort achieved study scores of 40+ (state average around 8%). The staff and students deserve congratulations.
Julie Chandler, Blairgowrie

In-depth discussion
Has the management at the ABC lost their marbles? (“Last plays of The Drum as axe falls”, 13/12). The Drum has consistently offered informative, respectful debate on a wide range of issues facing Australians and the wider world. Not just news bites but in-depth discussion on matters that are important to us all. Every week-night I look forward to hearing from people in all walks of life who share their experiences and expertise. It is a blueprint for how to conduct an intellectually stimulating discussion in a respectful way. If ever our politicians and neighbours needed that sort of interaction it is now.
There is not another program on air that comes close to the quality of viewing we’ve now lost.
Dianne Powell, Ivanhoe

Retrograde step
I was shocked and disappointed that the ABC is going to axe The Drum. This is an articulate and valuable program that is also carried out with courtesy even if participants disagree with particular issues. The ABC says that only low numbers of people watch this program. Is it not a retrograde step to eliminate an erudite and well argued program that deals with serious matters?
Louis Roller, Carlton

Predictable to the end
About time The Drum was silenced – always the same people and very predictable.
Mick Webster, Chiltern

Doesn’t speak for me
Peter Dutton’s demand for an apology for the cancellation of an Australia Day gala is beyond the pale (“Australia Day event in London will go ahead, declares Marles”, 13/12). He claims to speak for the majority of Australians who are supposedly proud of our heritage. I am one Australian who abhors the dreadful historic treatment of our First Nations people, which includes massacres and the forced removal of many children. Perhaps Dutton needs to talk to a broader range of people.
Geoff Lowther, Coburg

Built by migration
I am greatly saddened on hearing the news of the savage cutbacks in Australian migration rates by the Albanese government. As a young primary school teacher, trained in Melbourne during the hectic days of the late 1950s, l well remember teaching hordes of migrant children in Altona, with the vast majority of them going on to become carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc, while a few went on to university to study medicine, nursing, law and accountancy. My point is that this country since its foundation has been proudly built on immigration. Why halve it now?
Max Waugh, Melbourne

Keep it local
If our universities are so dependent on overseas students for revenue (“Unis may lose millions over migration call”, 13/12), this suggests we have too many institutions. Rationalisation would align universities with local student needs and free funds for other areas such as vocational education and TAFEs.
Martin Newington, Aspendale

Expertise lost
The creation of a new “super team of regulators” to oversee a seeming grab-bag of IVF, pest control, vaping, radiation safety, non-emergency patient transport, first-aid service providers and more is dismaying (“New ‘super-team’ of health regulators”, 13/12). One casualty will be the Victorian Reproduction Treatment Authority. VARTA does much more than regulate the assisted reproductive treatment industry. They provide independent information and support for individuals, couples, and health professionals regarding fertility, infertility, assisted reproductive treatment and the best interests of children born.
VARTA is a world-leader in this work. Assisted reproductive technology is a complex domain and people involved in assisted reproduction technology – have complex needs. VARTA’s specialist expertise and support functions that are so important to people affected by assisted reproductive technology will be lost in the new body, subsumed in the Department of Health.
Ian Smith, Hawthorn East

No time like now
It is not surprising the Suburban Rail Loop does not stack up on a cost benefit analysis (“First major SRL contract locks Victoria into sharing supply chain pain”, 13/12). Such analyses are conducted in today’s thinking and situations. Projects of this size and conception are not for today or tomorrow but for decades and even centuries into the future. We must change our thinking on how we should be travelling around our city and hence how it is designed. In 50 years’ time we must be less dependent on cars and more ready to choose other forms of transport. In this environment a fast rail line from the southern to eastern suburbs of Melbourne will be compulsory. It will be up to state and local government town planners, in genuine consultation with the community, to ensure the SRL is used as a natural first choice by many. Londoners were fortunate their underground was conceived well before cars came onto the scene. To build it now would be prohibitive. Similarly for the SRL in 50 years’ time.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North

Political games
During the COVID crisis, the state government gained well-deserved political mileage from fearlessly adopting the advice of experts in the field. But now with the Suburban Rail Loop, they seem to have disregarded expert advice, even throwing in snide anti-elite references. The SRL may or may not be worth the pain at this time, but given the huge cost disregarding the advice of virtually all those who live and die by their expertise in infrastructure is reprehensible.
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that this is mainly about propping up voter support in middle-ring suburbs, and voters should keep this in mind.
Graeme Lock, Oakleigh

Roads to ruin
Gridlock (“Shortcut to congestion”, Letters, 13/12) is indeed the fate that awaits the multibillion-dollar North-East link, which will debouch onto the Eastern Freeway, already full at peak times and busy at others. Meantime the logical connection to Eastlink, shown on Melway decades ago, has been abandoned, and Doncaster rail remains unbuilt since 1977 despite billions being spent on the dubious SRL.
Loch Wilson, Northcote

Keep it local
Urban planners should aim for local communities where services are within walking distance. Even electric vehicles produce pollution from tyres. We are encouraged to be consumerist but walking is the most environmentally friendly option and also provides exercise. Post offices and other services should be within walking distance.
Anne Kennedy, Surrey Hills

Half life
It’s not the U-235 (there’s so little of it left) or the U-238 in spent nuclear fuel that requires it to be safely stored for so long (“A long cost,” Letters, 13/12). It’s the radioactivity of the fission products, with short half lives, that makes it dangerous. Strontium-90 for example has a half life of just under 30 years, and increases the risk of bone malignancies. Nuclear waste needs to be stored for many decades, perhaps centuries, to allow the dangerous short lived fission products to decay away. The more stable fission products aren’t as much of a problem – because they decay so slowly, not exposing life to dangerous levels of radioactivity. But agreed – nuclear power isn’t an option for Australia. It’s too expensive, and takes too long to bring online.
Wayne Robinson, Kingsley

Simple giving
Shona Hendley, understandably, bemoans the teacher’s lot in present receiving (“A teacher’s Christmas wish? No more mugs”, 13/12). No doubt the parents are equally frustrated at thinking of something to buy. I wonder why more schools have not instituted the simple rule of one present from the class for the teacher. For the children in the class consider a Kris Kringle and a big gift exchange day at the end of the year.
Heather Barker, Albert Park

Keep it to yourself
I’ve contracted COVID again after getting it only two months ago. Feeling I had a slight cold, I did a RAT test which was positive, then isolated till I was negative. If everyone did a test, then isolated for a few days, COVID wouldn’t be as rampant as it is now. It’s not that hard.
Angie Gate, Surrey Hills


So America doesn’t want Israel to use the phosphorus bombs it sold them. What did it think Israel was going to do with them – fertilise the roses.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

The words of the Roman historian Tacitus come to mind as I look upon the images of the razing of Gaza: “they create a desert and call it peace.”
Peter Russo, West Brunswick

Whatever happened to peace on earth and goodwill to all men?
Carole Ruta, Cheltenham

With our self-respect restored after joining Canada and NZ in voting for a ceasefire in Gaza, let us hope that our courage will continue in thinking separately from the US and the UK.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Maybe COP28 could reconvene for an extra week, in Tuvalu, to help them reach a more sensible decision.
Duncan Reid, Flemington

Due to the new parking fees, it’s $6.50 an hour to fish at Mornington Pier – no one there, no wonder. Same for a walk on Flinders Pier. Money grab?
Ian Anderson, Surrey Hills

The European Union has finally reached agreement governing the development of artificial intelligence. The only thing that stops a bad guy with AI, is a good guy with AI.
Paul Custance, Highett

Re the Australia Day debate, if we get a public holiday because a bunch of criminals landed in Sydney, every day should be a public holiday.
James Lane, Hampton East

As the festive season approaches, I wish to announce that I am entering politics in order to spend less time with my family.
Paul Perry, Fitzroy North

Has anyone else noticed the overuse of the words “amazing” and “actually” in conversations? If you delete actually from the sentence, the meaning has not altered.
Kevin O’Callaghan, North Ringwood

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