Letter of the Week: The Truth About Haavara

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Your letter of the week (Correspondence, December 10th) made an excellent general statement about the predicament of the refugees. However, one sentence sticks out like a sore thumb: “Zionists in Palestine agreed to take in wealthy Jews as part of the Haavara trade agreement of 1933 with the Third Reich because they could share the economic booty.” That is completely mutilated. Palestine was under British rule at the time, not that of “Zionists”. The agreement imposed British restrictions on the economic status of Jewish immigrants in Palestine. A Nazi boycott of Jewish companies in Germany followed and enabled around 60,000 German Jews, not all of them “wealthy”, to escape the impending Holocaust. Even so, the agreement divided Jews around the world. In short, the subject is complex, the circumstances were extreme, and the Zionists were deeply divided over negotiating with the devil. You don’t have to be a Zionist to object to the distortions in this sentence, the connotations of which are also poisonous.

Brian Klug, Philosophy Emeritus Fellow, St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford University

Editor’s Note: In the December 10th issue of the New Statesman, Letter of the Week contained an inaccurate reference to the Haavara Accords of 1933. We apologize for the error and the offense caused by it.

Keep it up, doctor

When I finished Phil Whitaker’s excellent article (“The Doctor’s Last Days,” December 10), I cheered. His argument for the continuity of family doctor care is irrefutable, well researched and presented with calm, convincing force. And it’s done so well that the analysis is interspersed with the moving story of Daniel. A good doctor indeed – both in his patient care and in his advocacy of effective policy and practice.

Bryan Merton, Leicester

Phil Whitaker’s emphasis on continuity of primary care (or even medical) care is important. Scotland’s “new contract” requires GPs to be “knowledgeable medical generalists” (isn’t that already?) Dealing with complex care needs while nurses, physical therapists, etc. examine “simpler” conditions. But how are young GPs supposed to become experts without seeing the “simple” cases that help them understand the complex ones? This approach risks breaking continuity and ignores the holistic nature of good general practice.

Sandy Rough, General Practitioner, Aberdeenshire

Lessons from tragedy

Its leader (“We should never forget Arthur,” December 10th) condemns the appalling case of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and identifies failures by the government (in providing the necessary funding) and various local services (to communicate effectively and sensitively).

Contents of our partners

Feel safe giving technology to your children for Christmas

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Steve Morris of Bubblr on repairing the Internet's economic model

While all local services require significant resources to recruit a sufficient number of experienced staff, attention also needs to be paid to their processes: the way they work with parents and children and other professionals involved in ensuring safe care, health and care Education for children are involved.

Dr. Mike Davis, Blackpool

Not a dark age

Ian McEwan’s essay (Outside the Wal, Dec 10) vividly portrays the dilemmas faced by writers in the arenas of political struggle, and rightly highlights George Orwell and Albert Camus as writers who saw through the totalitarianisms of their time .

It was a shame he fell into the cliché when he said that “freedom of expression in Christian medieval Europe disappeared for a thousand years”. In fact, the scholars had considerable freedom in what they studied and wrote, including non-Christian sources. Heresy trials were rare and there were opportunities for repentance. If today’s “guardians of Orthodoxy” were so kind.

Gordon West, London W1

About Kevin

It was wonderful to see Kevin Maguire go back to the Commons Confidential December 10th special edition after just being online.

David English, Cardiff

Special delivery

Richard Dawkins ‘idea (“On Gods and Monsters,” Dec 10th) that “a gentle little questioning game” could reveal the truth about Santa, such as “’ How many chimneys would he have to climb to bring presents? “To all the children of the world?” Underestimates the amazement and joyful acceptance of magic. When my eight-year-old niece was told that Santa Claus was actually mom, she said, “Don’t be silly, mom can’t travel around the world in time to give the children all the presents!”

Helen Flanagan, via email

We reserve the right to process letters

[see also: Richard Dawkins interview: “What I say in biology has become pretty much orthodoxy”]

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