You publish a letter that I find shocking (26 January), arguing that terrorism is a justified moral response to Israeli intransigence. I have spent long periods in Israel and the Palestinian territories, meeting leaders on both sides, and doing the same in Republican areas of Northern Ireland. My conclusion is that terrorism’s audience is a domestic political one; it is designed to make militant a home population and render it fertile to the political ambitions of one party. It cannot be that it holds to a practical aim when that requires the abolition of the state of Israel or “the removal of the British from Ireland”.
Terrorism prolongs conflict and postpones resolution, as well as wasting innocent lives. The rowing back from the bloodshed is hard. Meanwhile, there is in Israel an articulate and motivated peace lobby. Who could argue that terrorism has not empowered the political right in that country and entrenched its divisions, weakening the case of those who argue for a settlement? There is neither a “moral right” nor a practical argument for terrorism in the modern world.
Rodborough Common, Gloucestershire
• I have been a supporter of the Palestinian cause for many years, but I do not believe terrorism is justified. If suicide bombing is the only avenue available, then that is tolerable against military forces. Blowing yourself up outside falafel stands is most definitely not.
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
• Various people have lined up to urge Ian McEwan not to accept the Jerusalem prize. It was such opposition that provoked Susan Sontag into attending. In her speech she attacked Israel for its policy of collective punishment, the demolition of homes and the building of settlements. People left the hall. Arthur Miller had his doubts, but accepted. In his recorded speech, he accused Israel of adopting a self-defeating policy. He was denounced by the newly elected ultra-Orthodox mayor. Good luck, Ian.
University of East Anglia
• Ian McEwan (Letters, 26 January) cites Daniel Barenboim in his defence. The incredibly brave Barenboim has not only formed a wonderful, ethnically inclusive orchestra. He has repeatedly championed the rights of the Palestinians. When a while ago he received an award in the Israeli parliament building, he was insulted for his peace efforts by a minister. He responded with vigour and without apology. Can we expect similar outspokenness from McEwan?
Lab, Manchester Gorton
• How sad that on Holocaust Memorial Day a British writer should be told not to accept a prize from his Jewish admirers in Israel.