Beware the distracting charge of equivalence


Sean Kelly (“The rule of law must apply to all”, May 27) puts it very well when, with regard to the International Criminal Court’s application for arrest warrants for leading Hamas figures and Israeli leaders, he states that “international law is important and should apply to all”. The charge of equivalence levelled by US President Joe Biden and echoed by many others is another example of the tactics of distraction and misinformation used to undermine valid criticism of Israel’s excessive retaliation and brutality in its response to the attacks of October 7. Rhetoric aside, the ICC has levelled individual and distinct charges against both parties to the conflict. These charges are based upon sound legal consideration of strong prima facie evidence of criminal conduct. To dismiss or label them as equivalence is an attack on the basic precepts of international law and justice. Our government should stand firm in supporting the international legal process against the partisan attacks of Israel’s apologists. Lindsay Smith, Linden

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Credit: Cathy Wilcox

Israel and Hamas may not be equivalent, but their actions may be. Hamas clearly targeted Israeli civilians on October 7. And, despite its claims to the contrary, Israel has used the suffering of Gazan civilians in its subsequent fight against Hamas. It would seem that drawing equivalence is now a separate, and bigger, crime than inflicting pain and suffering on innocents. And the ICC would have been criticised whatever it did. If the ICC had separated the two accusations and focused on just one of them, you can bet that those who support the accused side would claim bias amid cries of “but, what about what they did?” More broadly, however, this is what politicians do all the time. The suffering of others may well be of concern. But it is secondary. It is a hook to enable them to make a political point against their opponents. It is about time that they focused on what’s important – in this case, the suffering, not the equivalence. David Rush, Lawson

As emphasised by Sean Kelly, the decision of the ICC to apply for arrest warrants for leaders of both Israel and Hamas is a matter of international humanitarian law and the international rules of armed conflict. Whatever happened to the concept of allowing the legal process to take its course? Let’s leave it to the court to decide the validity of claims and counter claims, to determine and assess the facts, and to judge the innocence, guilt or relative culpability of those indicted. Meredith Williams, Baulkham Hills

Thank you, Sean Kelly, for calling out the “no equivalence” argument about the Israel-Gaza conflict. It is a distraction, and the deliberations by international courts seem little more than a sideshow. Hard to see that tallying up atrocities on both sides serves anyone, least of all the thousands of grieving families, when neither side is yet willing to cease hostilities. The conflict must end before any day of reckoning, but that day will come. Margaret Johnston, Paddington

Almost everything Sean Kelly argues about the fraught state of the Middle East has been said frequently by Herald letter writers. Ron Sinclair, Windradyne

Disabled parking is not a privilege, it’s a necessity

So, Malcolm Knox is captivated by his mother’s disability sticker (Letters, May 27). It does empower you, but the reality is somewhat different. I can walk about 50 metres on my sticks and even that is painful. This limits me enormously, so I am dependent on others for regular shopping, banking, meals out and entertainment, though I can drive. If I cannot get close parking wherever I have to go, I am unable to function. Physical difficulties reduce your ability to be as social and independent as you once were. Yet I find most people are kind and helpful. Disability parking, however, is gamed by many people. At one site, I found it used by an able nurse to permanently park all day while working. It’s usually possible to get a park at a big shopping centre alongside others, who may or may not have the required sticker in the disability parking area. The worst are the tradies and shoppers at Bunnings, who think all the disability parking is there for their convenience. The others are young mothers who, when questioned why they are using the disabled parking bays, reply that they are only there for two minutes. On one occasion, however, a ranger came and issued an infringement notice on the spot. Satisfying, but I still couldn’t park. Gwyn Burns, Manly

Please pay attention

Please pay attentionCredit: James Brickwood

Malcolm Knox “felt reduced” without the temporary use of “The Sticker”. How reduced does he think those of us who need one feel? Despite its privileges, I fervently wish I didn’t qualify. The reason I do sucks. Adrian Connelly, Springwood

Malcolm, your article hit a nerve with me. In my time with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority I had much to do with the Mobility Parking Scheme (MPS). The NSW scheme we have today is largely the one I designed back in the day when it went from the Disabled Persons Parking Authority scheme to the MPS. There are many stories I could tell you about the scheme, but what always struck me was the attitude of those able-bodied people who seemed to have the attitude of how lucky are those people with disabilities – they have special parking. Arthur Hennessy, Gymea Bay

Your correspondent rues the point he received for using a disabled parking space to be on time for his granddaughters’ athletics carnival. Perhaps he could consider that he may have prevented another person from attending their own granddaughter’s carnival altogether. Jennifer Briggs, Kilaben Bay

Snubbing Ukraine on coal a disgrace

How disgraceful that our government does not even have the courtesy to answer a plea from Ukraine for essential coal (“Ukraine plea to Australia for coal still unanswered”, May 27). We have plenty and surely can help them by organising an urgent, essential shipment through the ready and willing Whitehaven Coal company. Denis Suttling, Newport Beach

Coal - every little bit would help

Coal – every little bit would helpCredit: AFR

It is stunning to see a federal official reported saying that Australia has committed another $100 million to Ukraine without answering the question of why we are not sending the Ukrainians the coal they need. I seem to remember that this government has committed about $240 million to a football stadium in Hobart, showing its real priorities. Barry Laing, Castle Cove

Save our theatres

Sydney’s lack of theatrical venues seems like a never-ending cry in the dark from all the theatrical producers, constantly falling on the deaf ears of town planners (“Parramatta push shows city’s need for more theatres”, May 27). Whatever happened to the chance of giving the kiss of life to the old Minerva Theatre in Kings Cross? The recent possibility of such a dream seems to be just an ongoing series of indecisions. There is also the old Plaza Theatre site in George Street. Its magnificent Spanish mission facade cries out for it to house something more exhilarating than a burger chain, as its auditorium lies in the dark. The location of this old cinema site is for returning a Broadway or West End buzz to this once thriving arts strip. Sadly, Sydney’s town planners constantly turn a blind eye to the desperate need for a theatre district. The recent closure of the old Genesian Theatre, soon to be a hotel, is a wasted chance of keeping the area’s tradition alive by “incorporating” the theatre’s history within the re-invention of the site. British entrepreneur Sir Cameron Mackintosh put out a plea just like today’s editorial, 30 years ago, when he first saw the problems Sydney had with the destruction of so many of our theatrical venues. Sadly, the curtain remains fallen on any chances of change. Greg Vale, Kiama

The Minerva theatre, still waiting for a glass slipper

The Minerva theatre, still waiting for a glass slipperCredit: James Brickwood

I was born in Church Street, Parramatta, just down from the current Riverside Theatres. Last week, I returned and couldn’t help but marvel at its change from the 1940s when I grew up there. Now tall, state-of-the art commercial buildings comprising high-profile tenants including Western Sydney University, a world-class new library in a multimillion-dollar civic hub, skyscraper residential complexes, a vibrant Church Street dining precinct, not to mention Parramatta Wharf, greet residents and visitors. With construction of the new Powerhouse Museum well under way, a new light rail service soon to commence and now the announcement of a $188 million revamp, “About time” is all I wish to add. Edward Loong, Milsons Point

Hoping for a Sydney theatre revival gives me a dose of the Parra Road blues, but while state governments are obsessed with privatisation and the next election, our lord mayor has been here 20 years. Imagine a 2000-seat theatre with your name and we’ll all be in Clover. Peter Farmer, Northbridge

Perils of privatisation

The struggling Northern Beaches Hospital (and it is not alone) (“Auditors cast new doubt on hospital future”, May 27) was and is just another example of the Coalition’s attempts to privatise health, education and transport services in a supposed move to more efficiency, with the added benefit that politicians can point the finger at someone else when things go wrong. No country has ever managed to successfully run such public services in this way. Everyone knows the inequality and failures of private health systems in the US, where the wealthier receive expensive services, while the rest can go to the end of the line, if a line exists. Many years ago, NSW had a good public hospital system, with good outcomes in treatment. Donald Hawes, Peel

Addicted to sugar hits

I must respectfully disagree with your correspondent’s statement that “governments sometimes struggle to balance immediate cash benefits against the effect on consumers and the long-term results” (Letters, May 27). The evidence suggests that governments have no difficulty at all choosing between a quick truckload of cash and any long-term benefit for consumers. The overwhelmingly negative results of privatisation and public/private partnerships for consumers (and taxpayers) has not deterred governments from continuing to take the money and ignore the consequences. William Kennedy, Jordan Springs

Mystery of PM’s critics

Could critics of Anthony Albanese please spell out exactly what they decry about his leadership (Letters, May 27)? It helps no one to white-ant him with words such as “ordinary”, “was hosted at an expensive lunch” by someone or other or, as one writer complains, our PM “lacks charisma”. Heaven save us from leaders with charisma. Boris Johnson had plenty of it and he nigh destroyed his country with Brexit, flying by the seat of his pants, fuelled by charisma. Alice Spigelman, Wildes Meadow

The helium effect

Things to do with leftover helium

Things to do with leftover heliumCredit: Tamara Voninski

Regarding the letter on fusion (Letters, May 27), what would be the impact of helium on the environment as it accumulates in the atmosphere? Fusion as an energy source for human activity is a way off so, given that there is time to find out, maybe the new quantum computer being constructed in Brisbane can be set to work answering that question before we are subjected to living with unintended consequences. Glenn Johnson, Leura

Complaints register

Much to my husband’s horror, and my holidaying friend’s disbelief, a malfunctioning self-checkout once caused me to swear loudly at it (Letters, May 27). I am normally mild-mannered. I will now queue for however long it takes to have my items scanned by a human. Fiona Hainespettet, Pullenvale (Qld)

Kmart checkouts have confectionery at toddler height on either side of the queue. And there is always a sufficient number of “not in operation” registers to ensure that there is a queue. Don Firth, Wooli

Party games

Your correspondent (Letters, May 27) quotes apt aphorisms regarding the Albanese and Dutton teams. One other, never more true than now, is, “Without a good opposition, you won’t have a good government.” Alex Springall, Westleigh

Golden Brown

Sometimes a letter will make you smile and set you up for the day. Joan Brown’s did just that (Letters, May 27). Vicky Marquis, Glebe

Joan Brown - our woman on the inside

Joan Brown – our woman on the inside

I feel we have an undercover agent in Joan. Our own Mata Hari for truth in aged care. All the best, Joan, in your transition. Janice Creenaune, Austinmer

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