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Voting. In Israel

Jews in settlements in every corner of Judea and Samaria can vote for their representatives in the Knesset (Israeli Election – March 18). Yet millions of Arabs in the same West Bank territories, who live just as much under the rule of the Knesset and Israel Defence Forces, cannot. Sometimes, as in Hebron, members of the voting race live right across the street from the non-voting race.

For half a century, the explanation has been that this is a temporary situation. Well, the past and future prime minister of Israel has asserted it is permanent – there will never be a Palestinian state. Nor is it the first time he's said as much, yet the implications are usually passed over, at least in Canada, where Israel's status as a democracy is an article of faith.

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak spoke the obvious in 2010: "As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel, it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state."

Jeff White, Toronto


Israelis voted for a leader who is not afraid to call out the Middle East for what it is: a place of great danger for Israel, a place where Israel cannot, under any circumstances, be seen to be weak.

Rachel Goldman, Montreal


The mask is finally off. A Prime Minister who incites Jewish Israelis to vote for him, stating that "Arab voters are going to the polls in droves" (exercising their legitimate civic right and duty in a democracy) deserves to called racist and anti-democratic. Our Prime Minister? He chose to congratulate him. How depressing!

Yom Shamash, Vancouver


With Benjamin Netanyahu's solid win, the U.S. State Department will be busy for weeks untwisting Barack Obama's knickers.

Ken Greenberg, Toronto


The lever of fear is man's curse. Benjamin Netanyahu said the Arabs are coming, and the undecided succumbed and voted for him. Does that tell us something about the upcoming Canadian federal election? Stay tuned.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, Ottawa


G-Gs, bidden by PMs

Governor-General David Johnston was given his job by the Prime Minister, who can replace him at any time (Johnston's Term Will Continue Into 2017 – March 18).

The governor-general is one of Canada's democracy watchdogs because s/he determines: which party or parties form the government, when an election will happen, and when Parliament can be shut down. According to international best-practice standards, watchdogs should serve a fixed term and be appointed with the approval of all party leaders.

Recent surveys show a majority of Canadians want the governor-general chosen in a more democratic way, with clear, written rules (Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. have such rules).

Until these changes are made, the governor-general will unfortunately likely continue to do whatever the PM wants, no matter how questionable it is.

Duff Conacher, co-founder, Democracy Watch


MPs don't get it

Re Veterans' Benefits called 'Half Measure' (March 18): When will this government stop nickel-and-diming veterans?

When a country's servicemen and women come back damaged, it has a duty to care for them, for however long it takes. The treatment of our vets is a disgrace.

The trouble, as far as I can see, is that very few MPs have served; they just don't understand.

Patrick Bogert, Mono, Ont.


Ne'er the twain …

Re The U.S. Ambassador Who Got Left Out In The Cold (March 18): I guess it was mere coincidence that The Globe's article on the frosty relations between Canada and the U.S. came just one day after the 30th anniversary of the decidedly more amicable Shamrock Summit between prime minister Brian Mulroney and president Ronald Reagan, which kick-started a period of very close relations beginning in 1985.

Historically speaking, though, your article reminded me more of president Richard Nixon's 1972 address to Parliament when he said: "It is time for Canadians and Americans to move beyond the sentimental rhetoric of the past. It is time for us to recognize that we have very separate identities; that we have significant differences; and that nobody's interests are furthered when these realities are obscured."

J.D.M. Stewart, Toronto


Democratic reform?

While Canadians would have better government with proportional representation, it is difficult to see how any meaningful democratic reform could ever be enacted by the Conservatives (Everyone Loves PR Except Canada – March 18). This is the party that passed the deceitfully named Fair Elections Act, and whose data base was used for robo calls.

Canadians pay for a Minister for Democratic Reform who only blocks meaningful reform.

Rick Munro, Kingston


'A bizarre story'

Mark MacKinnon tells a bizarre story of bad judgment by the government and its High Commissioner in London (Shake The Foundation – Folio, March 14). The High Commission is trying to deliver a coup de grâce to the struggling remnants of a once-flourishing Foundation for Canadian Studies program in Britain.

Why would any reasonably sane diplomatic establishment want to shoot itself in the foot – in this case, alienating the academic community upon whose commitment and goodwill depended one of the most cost-effective programs available for the promotion of Canada? Appointing additional High Commission staff to outnumber and outvote the academics on a supposedly independent board funded largely by donations violates one of the basic canons of that relationship.

Sadly, this is of a piece with the government's policies for cultural policies overseas.

John W. Graham, former ambassador, Ottawa


Hats off

I'll be watching for more articles by Nathan VanderKlippe. His work on The Ghost Children Of China is one of the best pieces of writing I've seen in a newspaper in a long time (Focus, March 14). Important work, beautifully done. Stories like this especially make me appreciate The Globe as Canada's finest newspaper.

Thelma Fayle, Victoria


Here's tae us

Leave it to the Scots, the canny, Celtic cousins of the Irish to convert uisce beatha into whisky (Sláinte! – letter, March 18). I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to say the words in the original Irish before, let alone after, imbibing an evening's worth of the water of life.

Ken Mark, Toronto