I’m not an antisemitic Jew for shunning Netanyahu

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As a non-religious Jew, I am in total agreement with Jenna Price (″⁣As a non-Zionist Jew, I’ve had enough″⁣, 6/12). Benjamin Netanyahu and his cobbled-together coalition, composed of many fanatical conservatives, is a blight on Israeli politics. I have often been branded ″⁣an antisemitic Jew″⁣ by Jewish mates for being critical of Bibi and everything he stands for. How insulting. I’m neither an antisemite nor anti-Israel; I am anti-Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has done everything in his power to prevent a two-state solution. Hopefully, his comeuppance will come when Israel holds its next national election, post the horrors that are unfolding daily in Gaza and Israel itself.
Maurie Johns, Mt Eliza

Inflammatory claims
Unlike Jenna Price, the vast majority of Australian Jews are Zionists, meaning we believe in the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the form of a Jewish state in the Jewish homeland. We also understand that only antisemites are to blame for antisemitism. Her blaming of Netanyahu for antisemitism could be seen by antisemites as justifying their bigotry. Her claims against Israel are false and, in the current context, inflammatory. Israel is not murdering people. It is targeting Hamas terrorists who cynically hide among civilians. Israel is trying to minimise civilian casualties by evacuating them. Neither is it to blame for the failure to reach a two-state peace.
Robbie Gore, Brighton East

Seeking peace
Jenna Price hits the nail on the head. Can people with different religions, ethnicities, nationalities etc live peacefully alongside each other? Yes, and they do, worldwide. It is only the actions of extremists from either group, who extol the greatness of themselves and their particular clans over others, which induces the kind of horror we are witnessing in the Middle East. My guess is that most Israelis don’t want to wipe out the Palestinians, and most Palestinians (as opposed to Hamas) don’t want to wipe out the Jews. They want decent, peaceful lives for themselves and their loved ones. Richard Mitchell, Caulfield North

Education needed
Jenna Price shows why it’s important to make the distinction between Zionist and non-Zionist Jews and Israelis, as well as between Hamas and Muslims. Unfortunately, too many Australians don’t understand the difference. The government must lead the way in getting the correct information out to counteract increased levels of antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Elizabeth Sprigg, Glen Iris

What’s offensive about Zionism?
When Jenna Price states that ″⁣Australians seem unable to tell the difference between Jews and Zionists and between Muslims and Hamas″⁣), she appears to be implying that many, if not most, Australian Jews are not Zionists, and that to be a Zionist is akin to being a supporter of Hamas. She couldn’t be more wrong. A recent poll found that 88 per cent of Australian Jews consider themselves Zionists. And what is it that Price finds so offensive about Zionism, the right of the Jews to have a home in a land to which they have had a continual connection for 3000 years?
Geoff Feren, St Kilda East

Shift bigger than Bibi
Jenna Price celebrates Netanyahu’s popularity being ″⁣in the basement″⁣ but attributes too much of the ″⁣current torrent of antisemitism″⁣ to ″⁣the way [he] has gone about Israel’s business over decades″⁣. She’s suggesting his demise would fix much in Palestine. But the decades Price refers to saw an ominous shift in Israeli politics and society after its 1967 victory. Now, assertions – from prime ministers and generals to settler firebrands and quasi-fascist MPs – that ″⁣greater Israel″⁣ (all Palestine) is ours are unremarkable. This is the dangerous mindset which no Australian leader has the guts to question and underpins Israel’s practice of ″⁣permanent security threat, so constant war″⁣.
Ken Blackman, Inverloch


Education achievement
The PISA international education tests revealed that, for the first time ever, Australian teenagers have climbed into the world’s top 10 for all three metrics – reading, maths and science (“Nearly half of 15-year-olds fail to meet benchmarks”, 6/12). You wouldn’t know it from the headlines, which focused overwhelmingly on the negative aspects of the story. While there are indeed some concerning trends, a little less doom-mongering would be welcome.
While we’re at it, our reading results outperformed the English – something to keep in mind next time you see someone spruiking the virtues of “synthetic phonics”. The Poms have thrown everything at this over the last 15 years, with decidedly mixed results.
Joe Pugh, Warragul

Intelligent design
With the news that Australian-born students score at a lower level in all assessment areas, it’s clear that immigration is not just propping up our GDP and house prices. With the boost in migrants, we’ll become smart enough to solve the cost of living and housing crises. I just hope we can fit them all in. Gregory Hill, Brunswick

Equity the answer
Geoff Masters (″⁣Why Singapore’s school system is better than ours″⁣, 6/12) points out that the top-performing educational nation by world standards is now lessening an emphasis upon ″⁣streaming″⁣. This is heartening to hear. Too often the default option in Australian discussions around declining educational standards gravitates towards streamed classes as a panacea.
Based on my experience of having taught in England 30 years ago in a highly streamed secondary school, where the top tier of students were geared for Oxbridge outcomes and the lower tier relegated to bleak futures, stratified education can be for many young people soul-destroying. The effect on a school’s overall morale can be insidious.
It is significant that Finland, a nation with an archetypal Scandinavian public educational system based on non-streamed social equity, has in recent years consistently delivered results comparable to those of Singapore. Streaming is not the way to go.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Take the long view
I agree with Matt Wade that we must ″⁣take a long view on immigration″⁣ (Comment, 6/12). But his vision for the long view couldn’t be more different from mine. He welcomes continued high growth in Australia’s population through immigration, mainly because it would boost our economy from 14th largest in the world to eighth.
My alternative vision is a stable population. Our cities would stop sprawling and destroying natural habitat and arable farmland. Our suburbs would not be buried under more concrete and high-rise. Our precious rivers would not die from over-extraction. Our energy usage would stabilise and give us a chance to reduce emissions. While a population-fuelled growing economy is considered a measure of success, we face a dystopian future.
Ian Penrose, Kew

Housing first
I am not fearful of migration but I am concerned with the availability and high cost of housing created by people needing to live somewhere when they arrive here. Rather than focusing on the demand side of housing created by migration, I’m appalled at the failure of planning to supply housing for our newly arrived residents.
Geoffrey Conaghan, St Kilda

Fast lanes
The proposal by Infrastructure Victoria to consider constructing dedicated bus rapid transport lanes in Melbourne is a very practical and sensible approach to ever-increasing traffic congestion (″⁣Bus-only lanes aired as gridlock quick fix″⁣, 6/12). Provided that it does not unreasonably impede access for other road users, and encourages the use of public transport, it should be implemented.
This approach should also be considered as a solution to providing rapid public transport to Melbourne Airport until the contentious, and indefinitely delayed, rail link is completed. If adopted, the bus rapid transport vehicles should be electrically powered, thereby reducing both congestion and emissions.
Leslie Chester, Brighton

Cost incentive
If cheaper bus fares would get more cars off the road and lead to less traffic congestion, then why not make bus travel free? When I travel by bus I estimate that about 30 per cent of passengers don’t ″⁣touch on″⁣, many of whom turn to the driver with a wave and a cheery ″⁣Thank you″⁣ before departing from the rear door.
Kevan Porter, Alphington

Rail humour
The Suburban Rail Loop shows all the signs of being designed on the back of a beer coaster at the pub after work on a Friday night. As the beer consumption increased and the design evolved, I can imagine the hilarity of the design crew as they traded one-liners:
“If we started the line at Sandringham, with a station at Beaumaris, people might use it to go the beach, and rob the councils of their price-gouging non-resident parking fees.“
“If we built the northern section first, terminating at the airport, people might accuse us of building an airport rail.“
“The people of Heatherton would like the trains to stop there, so we will give them a rail yard, and the trains will stop all night.“
“If somebody is at Southland doing their shopping, I am sure they will want to go to Glen Waverley and Doncaster to compare prices at the identical shops in each location.“
“We don’t want to put stations in residential areas to get people into the new business centres. That is what Uber is for.“
And the clincher inspired by Yes Minister: “Imagine how efficiently this will run as a ghost train without any customers.”
Ken O’Brien, Parkdale

Community spirit
I have lived in four other suburbs prior to living for the past 22 years in East Melbourne, in which I found a strong community spirit that was lacking in the larger four suburbs, which is contrary to Christopher Bantick’s assertion that “East Melbourne lacks a vibrant community focus” (Comment, 5/12). Prominent are the East Melbourne Group (planning issues) and the Historical Society, both of which also run enjoyable social events. Complementing them is the East Melbourne Network, which organises monthly discussions, weekly exercise and walking classes, a choir and book groups. Then there is a long-standing monthly Sunday lunch group plus periodic musical concerts, while our local cafes and restaurants are where locals regularly meet after walking in our splendid parks. Taken together, these activities all help to create a lively community spirit that other suburbs might hope to emulate.
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne

Words a bond
Elizabeth Knight states ″⁣Letters, like bank branches, are best left to go the way of the dinosaur″⁣ (The Age, 6/12) She may not have heard of the ″⁣International Penfriends Assoc″⁣. I am writing to penfriends in America, Canada and several locations in England. Sitting with a morning cuppa and a long letter from a penfriend is a joy. Hearing about their lives, their families, hobbies, books and films enjoyed often leads to shared experiences.
Cecily Falkingham, Donvale

Give him dignity
In recent days correspondents continue the admonishment of David Warner over his involvement in ball tampering. He did the wrong thing, but isn’t it time to let it go? Surely he has paid a big enough price. There were many other high-profile players, from many of the major cricketing nations, who apparently were ball tampering without the ongoing condemnation that Warner has had to endure. Let the man who has had a significant cricket career retire with some dignity.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

Costly wait
A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were in a collision with another car. Luckily, due to seat belts and airbags, we sustained only very minor injuries. Because of her age the two lovely ambos were required to take her to hospital – in this case, one in the eastern suburbs. They then had to stand around (no seats, unless they got them for themselves from a cubicle or ward) for 4 hours until a medico accepted my wife into emergency. The ambos do 12-hour shifts, and I asked them how many calls, on average, they answered per shift and they said three to four, but several years ago it was twice that number. One said that he had recently spent his whole 12-hour shift at the same hospital doing nothing but waiting for a patient to be admitted. Apparently many ambos are leaving the service because of this complete waste of their time. More doctors and hospital beds are obviously desperately needed in the public hospital system, so that ambos can be out on the roads attending to those in dire need.
Don Jordan, Mt Waverley

Blaming Boomers
Boomers and their perceived affluence have been in the gun for causing housing prices to go through the roof. Simultaneously, Boomers are being blamed for causing a major burden on taxpayers and crises in health and aged care costs. Boomers are also being pilloried for being the audience of ABC Radio National programmes.
Perhaps, the Boomers’ critics need to look at substance rather than form. Gross generalisations are easy to make. Younger generations should remember that Boomers spent their working lives when various government policies exhorted them to put personal acquisitive interests before social justice concerns. Is it any wonder that our society is currently moving more towards two classes – haves and have-nots?
It’s time to give a care about all others, rich or poor, Boomer or Gen Z. What’s so hard about that?
Cheri Lee, Brunswick East


Credit: Matt Golding

Australia Post
Are we expected to applaud Australia Post’s pronouncement regarding mail deliveries every second day? That’s what we’ve been putting up with (and less) for yonks now.
Elizabeth Chipman, Seaford

The cheque’s in the mail, but I have no idea where the mail is.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West

Middle East
The Biden administration is advising Israel that it must do its utmost to minimise civilian casualties in Gaza. A quote from 1960s and ’70s Israeli defence minister Moshe Dayan comes to mind: ″⁣Our American friends offer us money, arms and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice.″⁣
Michael Ryan, Balwyn

John Lennon’s ″⁣All we are saying is give peace a chance″⁣ keeps swirling in my head.
Why not?
James Billings, Avenel

I’m grateful to your recent correspondents for drawing attention to Melbourne’s new pink Christmas livery, when I’d thought we were just being environmentally responsible by recycling last year’s faded red decorations.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Your corespondent (Letters, 5/12) suggests that the title choice of ″⁣Mrs″⁣ on forms is rather old-fashioned and should be dropped. I agree, but would like to add that any and all titles in front of names are a relic of times gone by, confer no relevant information and should not be needed on any form.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West

In modern German, all adult females are ″⁣Frau″⁣ (Mrs), just like all adult males are ″⁣Herr″⁣ (Mr) regardless of marital status (″⁣Mrs the point,″⁣ Letters 5/12). ″⁣Fräulein″⁣ (Miss) has disappeared from use. The same should happen in English with Miss being got rid of.
Wayne Robinson, Kingsley

Dom Sheed continues to amaze. It was reported that he was ″⁣relegated to signing autographs with his left leg in a moon boot″⁣. Degree of difficulty? Extreme.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West

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