Allegations false

Allegations false

Allan Doobov's response (Letters, March 23) to my criticism of Israel's nuclear weapons is a collection of non-sequiturs and misrepresentations. He claims that I have said that possessing nuclear weapons is as bad as using them.

Nowhere have I hinted at such a proposition. To say, as I did, that both are generally illegal, according to the International Court of Justice, does not equate them. Not all crimes are equal. Doobov's suggestion that they are is quite extraordinary.

Doobov further misrepresents my position in stating that I condemn only Israel and not the other seven nuclear-armed states. (I think he means eight.) The Medical Association for Prevention of War, which I represent, has consistently and loudly condemned every nuclear-armed state for threatening the most extreme form of mass destruction.

Why did I criticise Israel specifically in my most recent letter? Because it is Israel that is threatening yet another catastrophic war in the Middle East. Doobov's claim that I ''apparently'' support Iran building nuclear weapons components is baseless and absurd. Please stick to the facts Mr Doobov, not false and sinister allegations.

Dr Sue Wareham, Medical Association for Prevention of War


Stance is simplistic

Sue Wareham's call (Letters, March 20) for a nuclear-free Middle East, while admirable, is the sort of naive gesture that dictatorships like Iran not only laugh at but use to their advantage.

Equally simplistic is her effort to draw moral equivalence between Israel and Iran. Not only has Israel never admitted to a nuclear weapons capability nor threatened to use it, but rather has promised never to be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East. This policy is unprecedented.

History shows a state which has attained a nuclear weapons capability will publicly trumpet this achievement with the obligatory demonstration, but Israel has not, despite having justification to do so.

If it has nuclear weapons or wanted to suggest it has them for deterrent purposes, then Israel is doing a poor job of it. And as WikiLeaks revealed, Arab leaders privately implored the US to neutralise the Iranian nuclear weapons threat, but ignored Israel because they know it would never use them offensively. The Medical Association for Prevention of War may think even-handedness is a cure-all, but it also exposes a worrying case of moral blindness.

Bill Arnold, Chifley

Protect the lake

Ray Nelson (Letters March 23) writes that ''as of Monday, power boats and water skiers have been able to access Lake Ginninderra''. He rightly mentions that ''the noise and wakes from power boats will impact on the safety and amenity'' of the lake. One has to question the wisdom of the people making these decisions.

I'm sure many Canberrans would prefer to share Lake Ginninderra with a quiet and beautiful teepee than a rowdy and dangerous mass of power boats. As Jonathon Crane (Letters March 22) wrote ''William Woodbridge's teepee adds something human, soulful and even magical to our increasingly delightful city'' and ''Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide haven't even dreamed of a floating Teepee yet''.

Let's keep the dream of a city with a heart and soul alive!

Mrs Jyoti Dambiec, Evatt

Needle swap vital

In his article ''Jail is no place for needles'' ( March 16, p17) the ACT's shadow minister for corrections Jeremy Hanson says ''evidence shows that hepatitis C transmission is far lower inside well-run jails where access to drugs and needles is limited than among similar demographic groups in the community''. If truth be known, there is no evidence of lower incidence of HCV transmission in prison. There are very few HCV transmission studies in the prison context worldwide, and none that have parallel studies in geographically-related outside communities.

Studies of that nature underway in NSW, however, indicate that while both prison and broader community HCV transmission rates are declining, HCV incidence rates are higher in prison than in greater metropolitan Sydney. Unfortunately, Mr Hanson's statement has no scientific basis.

While all this might sound academic, let's acknowledge that just one hep C or HIV infection in prison is one too many.

And Michael Doyle (Letters, March 22) and victim support advocates need to acknowledge that policing, corrective services, community justice all have budgets that the ACT government allocates to victim support. They can be reassured that the community supports their needs greatly. None of that should detract from the public health responsibilities that government has.

The evidence is clear. Prison needle exchange is vital to protect prisoner, prison officer and public health.

Christina Thomas, president, Hepatitis NSW, Surry Hills, NSW

Breaker was British

Once again (still) the historical facts have been distorted (''Breaking tradition: play gets modern twist'', March 22, p6). At the time of their offences, subsequent courts martial and punishments, Morant, Handcock and Witton were not Australian Army officers; they were British officers in a British Army irregular unit, the Bush Veldt Carbineers. In addition, it should be noted that no Australian Army soldier has ever been tried by any British military court for an offence that could have resulted in an execution. In 1929 Witton, whose death sentence was commuted to imprisonment, admitted that Handcock had carried out the murders under Morant's orders, and there is no proof, whatsoever, that Morant was acting under Lord Kitchener's supposed orders to ''… take no prisoners …'' Even if these orders had been issued soldiers have an obligation to disobey un-lawful commands and this protocol was well known then. Again, at the time Morant, Handcock and Witton were British Army officers, NOT Australian officers, serving in a British Army (irregular) unit and they WERE guilty.

Christopher Jobson, Monash

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