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#################### Geoff Seidner
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
letters today - BDS supporters should explain their selectivity
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THE boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign discriminates against all Israelis, supposedly to penalise Israel for abuse of Palestinian rights ("Lynch like 'publican denying blacks, Jews' ", 28-29/12). Not only is the claim of abuse debatable, it ignores obvious abuse by others.
Israel occupied Arab lands in response to aggression and has made repeated offers to withdraw in return for peace. At the same time, without any provocation or offer of withdrawal, China occupies Tibet, Indonesia occupies West Papua, Morocco occupies Western Sahara and Turkey occupies Cyprus, holding their populations captive and abusing their rights. Yet apparently only Israel deserves the attention of Jake Lynch and the BDS gang. They should explain.
Dov Midalia, Bondi Junction, NSW
YOU should be thanked for telling readers about the derision used by the lawyer representing the Israeli law centre Shurat HaDin in their legal action against my Sydney University colleague Jake Lynch who is supported by more than 4000 signed-up co-defendants from 60 countries.
Shurat HaDin's action is a hysterical, albeit planned, response to the increasingly successful worldwide boycott of staff from academic institutions that assist in the occupation of Palestinian lands and thereby run roughshod over international human rights laws.
Without adherence to such laws, there can be no civility, no justice for Palestinians or for their supporters within Israel.
Stuart Rees, Sydney University, NSW
Sickness in the service
FOR many years, public sector sick leave has been running above that found in the private sector ("Sickies on rise in public service", 30/12). A crackdown on this is long overdue.
However, expecting the Australian Public Service Commission to lead any initiative would be rash given the rise in leave taking that has occurred under its stewardship.
If the APSC is expected to be the government's chief human resources management adviser, it would be expected that role would be occupied by someone who has standing as a senior HR professional.
Where leave is taken for reasons other than that claimed, the employee is imposing on the commonwealth. This should be treated as an offence.
More widely, though, the solution is in building an attendance culture. A first step might be to make unplanned absence a controllable cost sheeted home to frontline managers, not carried as a corporate overhead. After all, the workplace manager is likely to know which absence is honest and which is not.
William Forgan-Smith, Norman Park, Qld
Referendum a true test
RODNEY Croome has neatly confirmed the determination of the High Court to politicise its constitutional decision on the ACT's same-sex marriage law (Letters, 30/12).
By giving his Australian Marriage Equality leave to intervene to put an extraneous and unnecessary question about the federal government's powers to legislate on same-sex marriage, the court set itself up to deliver its gratuitous redefinition of marriage.
It thus attempted to pre-empt the role of the parliament to express the people's will through their representatives. That will has never been expressed - certainly not by the surveys of AME, which it has claimed as the basis for popular support, while rejecting the true test of a referendum.
Geoffrey Luck, Killara, NSW
BILL Moyle's response (Letters, 30/12) to my questioning of the effectiveness of laws that make the mere giving of offence unlawful is couched in academic language but divorced from reality (Letters, 28-29/12), as is his apparent belief in the ability of laws that are unintelligible to most people to influence everyday attitudes and social interactions.
Do we reach for the statute books before responding to our neighbour? It is the social acceptability of particular behaviour that determines our statutes rather than the converse.
My point is that when the law seeks to go beyond protecting people from real harm in trying to forcefully impose goodness on others, it becomes ineffectual and brings itself into disrepute. The test of the effect of such laws on social cohesion is whether those who fall foul of their provisions (or even those who benefit from them) would then feel more or less kindly disposed towards the other party.
Eric Lockett, Rose Bay, Tas
Defection no surprise
THE news that Zimbabwe's ambassador Jacqueline Zwambila is seeking asylum should come as no surprise. Robert Mugabe is a dictator who thinks nothing of persecution in order to distract attention from his nepotism and corruption.
However, the enthusiasm with which refugee advocates have greeted this news raises another issue. Why have they been silent on the need to tackle Mugabe and why haven't they been vocal in calls for easing the process for persecuted minorities in southern Africa to enter Australia?
The award for hypocrisy must go to former PM Malcolm Fraser who has tweeted Zwambila must be granted asylum now - especially considering his enthusiastic support for the Marxist Mugabe.
Andrew Phillips, Glendevie, Tas
Pessimistic on Syria
TO implore the international community to prevent an unmitigated catastrophe in Lebanon as a consequence of the Syrian crisis is to be wildly optimistic ("Containing Syria's civil war", 30/12).
The international community has been powerless to curb the violence in Syria. In three years, more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed by the regime. Any overflow of violence into Lebanon will not be averted by the international community.