I was disappointed by the tone and the message of today’s News Letter editorial (‘Unionists should shun any citizens’ assembly on Irish unification,’ May 19, see link below) which, while arguing that unionists should not engage with events planning ‘Ireland’ Future’, used Israel’s response to Hamas in Gaza as an example of how to respond to terrorist attempts to overthrow the state.
I would argue the complete reverse of the News Letter argument, ie that Northern Ireland’s response to IRA terrorism is an example that we should have encouraged Israel to follow.
Gaza is not Northern Ireland and Hamas are not the IRA, but there are striking similarities.
Gaza has a similar population to Northern Ireland packed into a much smaller area, and like us endured decades of politically motivated violence, to which Israel has responded with overwhelming force on several occasions, eg Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009 caused over 1,100 deaths but solved nothing – the violence continues today.
We in Northern Ireland took the correct path in 1998, while Israel missed its opportunity to talk to an elected Hamas government after 2006.
Somewhat unwillingly, we discovered that talking to your enemy might not make him your friend, but it does stop you killing each other’s children.
No-one here would seriously like to turn the clock back and try the Israeli solution.
Out of interest I attended the first Ireland’s Future event in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast; it was interesting but my identity was not threatened and I was not turned into an Irish nationalist by listening to the views expressed or talking to the people in the audience beside me.
I suggest unionism loses nothing by engaging and talking to Irish nationalism.
Staying outside the room allows us to dismiss these events as echo chambers, but we miss out on the chance to engage with Irish nationalists and to introduce some realism by constructively criticising their plans.
In return, some of us unionists may even benefit from their constructive criticism of us.
Arnold Carton, Belfast BT6
• Editorial May 19: Unionists should shun any citizens’ assembly on Irish unification
• Other comment articles:
• Owen Polley May 23: Many culprits are to blame for Irish Sea border
• Ben Lowry May 21: There’s been a shift in London towards sympathy for NI over protocol
• Ben Lowry May 21: I do love Bangor, but it is hard to think of it as a city
• John Redwood May 20: The government must act soon over Protocol – NI unionists want their country back
• Owen Polley May 19: Expect full-tilt lies and hysteria in weeks ahead over Protocol
• Ben Habib May 18: There isn’t even a real threat of unilateral action on protocol
• Jim Allister May 17: Boris Johnson flew into NI with weak message on the protocol
• Ruth Dudley Edwards May 17: Thank you Lithuania for pursuing Omagh bomber
• Owen Polley May 16: Getting rid of the protocol is more important than the return of Stormont
• Henry McDonald May 14: Will Boris Johnson deliver beyond his rhetoric?
• Ben Lowry May 14: Here are six of the broad reasons for the turn against unionism